Pa. candidates for House debate

October 19, 2000

Pa. candidates for House debate

By STACEY DANZUSO / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - National issues including prescription drug plans, gun control and the abortion pill RU 486 played out on the local level in Thursday's debate between the two candidates for Pennsylvania's 89th district house seat.

Democratic incumbent Rep. Jeff Coy and Republican challenger Ken Gill faced off for the first time, but in the end both agreed on many key points.

"People in this country should not have to drive to Canada to get good, high-quality drugs at a reasonable price," Coy said, recommending a national board look closely at prescription drug prices and encouraging the use of cheaper generic drugs.

On the first of many issues, Gill agreed with Coy and suggested the state organize a co-op to buy large quantities of drugs so they can sell them to seniors at a cheaper price.


The debate, hosted by the a Chambersburg newspaper and news radio station, at Wilson College drew a quiet crowd of about 75 people.

Coy, a Shippensburg resident is seeking his 10th term in the state House. Financial director at Penn State's Mont Alto campus, Gill, of Chambersburg, is one of a long line of Republican challengers who have been unable to knock off Coy and take control of the seat in the highly Republican Franklin County.

In this election, Gill's position seems to mirror Coy's.

"I agree with Mr. Coy almost 100 percent," said Gill on the issue of gun control, after hearing his opponent say guns are not the culprit but supported mandatory minimum sentences in gun crimes.

Gill added he believed instant background checks would only add an unnecessary level of state bureaucracy.

"People who commit crimes will not go through the usual sources," he said.

Tax relief was another key issue on which both men had strong opinions.

Gill said by abolishing the Prevailing Wage Law, which he said has cost taxpayers millions of dollars for school construction, the state could lower school property taxes and put that money back in the pockets of Franklin County residents.

Coy said he would reduce property taxes by 5 percent a year for the next 10 years by using the $1.6 billion state surplus.

Both men said they would work to eliminate Pennsylvania's inheritance tax, but they agreed it would have to be phased in so the state could adjust its budget to make up for the lost revenue.

"Families are unable to pass the farm or business from one generation to another. Many families have to sell the farm or business to pay the inheritance taxes," Gill said.

Asked about how the state should regulate the newly-approved abortion pill, Coy took the opportunity to remind the audience of his stance against abortion, while Gill said he wants to make sure the state monitors the risks of the drug closely.

The 75-minute debate was punctuated by just a few barbs between candidates, including Gill questioning how his opponent could use the surplus to reduce both the inheritance and property taxes.

"You can't spend the same dollar twice," Gill said.

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