The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 14, 2013

Senate floor vote suggests gay marriage can pass

(Continued)

ST. PAUL —

The bill also has to get through the House, where its opponents have said they see a better chance to defeat it. Senators aren't up for reelection until 2016, while House members face voters again in 2014.

House and Senate policy committees approved the gay marriage bill Tuesday on party line votes. Backers have said a final floor vote wouldn't come until later this spring, after both chambers have passed the state budget.

On Wednesday, Senate Republicans produced a document they said shows that authorizing gay marriage could cost the state's insurance fund over $600,000 a year to provide coverage to spouses of gay state employees. They questioned whether it could also increase court costs or have other ramifications on state spending, and said the bill should be reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees spending.

"I think it's going to cost the state of Minnesota a bunch of money," said Sen. Scott Newman, R-Hutchinson. "I think that impact is going to be significant. If I'm wrong, so be it."

But Sen. Dick Cohen, the St. Paul Democrat who chairs the Finance Committee, said any costs would be tough to estimate and likely not very high. He said his committee has rarely viewed the fiscal impact of judicial policy changes.

Gov. Mark Dayton has said he would sign a gay marriage bill if the House and Senate pass it. Gay weddings would be allowed starting Aug. 1 under the current proposal.

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