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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, May 24, 2010

Study says little economic, government impact to Hawaii civil unions law

Advertiser Staff

Implementing a civil union law in Hawai'i would have a minimal impact on Hawai'i's economy and government, a study by two University of Hawai'i economists says.

The paper by Sumner La Croix and Kimberly Burnett looked at how the measure passed by Hawai'i's state Legislature might impact the state if it is signed into law by Gov. Linda Lingle.

Among the items examined include the effect on tourism, state government revenues and spending, employer health insurance for civil union partners and their dependents.

"We conclude that the legalization of civil unions in Hawaii will have only a very minimal impact on any aspect of Hawaii's economy and state government operations," wrote La Croix and Burnett.

The 12-page paper concludes:

•Based on the experience other states implementing civil union laws, the state's adjustment to such legislation would be smooth and cost little.

•A small increase in visitors and spending by same-sex couples from other states can be expected. The couples would see Hawai'i as a place they could go to enter into civil unions or to celebrate their civil unions.

•Enactment of the law is unlikely to lead to substantial increases in people covered by public and private health insurance. There also won't be substantial increases in health insurance expenditures by either public or private employers, the study said.

•There is likely to be a small gain in state revenues because of civil union registration fees, excise taxes and state income taxes.

La Croix and Burnett noted the views expressed in their paper were their own and not the official view of the university or other organizations.