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Kauffman readies for his new role in Pa. legislature

November 04, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - A day after being elected to the 89th District seat in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Republican Rob Kauffman said his first priority is logistical rather than legislative.

"We'll be working on getting our legislative offices up and running," said Kauffman, who defeated Democratic nominee Doug Harbach in the contest to win the seat held for nearly 22 years by Democrat Jeff Coy.

"The mechanics of that are just like I'm starting anew," the Greene Township supervisor said. Kauffman said he has to find office space and staff for constituent service offices in Chambersburg and Shippensburg, Pa.

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Coy, who did not run for re-election, resigned in September to take a position with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. His offices in Chambersburg and Shippensburg remained open to provide constituent services, but will close on Nov. 30, according to a staff member.

Kauffman, 30, tallied 15,659 votes to 10,583 for Harbach, 43, in Tuesday's election, according to complete, but unofficial results from the Franklin County Election Board and Cumberland County Bureau of Elections.

"First we had to worry about winning," Kauffman said of his focus in the months leading up to the election. He said he does have two priorities after he is sworn in on Monday, Jan. 4.

"It's the same kind of things I talked about in the campaign, property tax reform and medical malpractice reform," said Kauffman, a former legislative aide to state Rep. Patrick Fleagle, R-90th.

This year the General Assembly passed a complicated school property tax reform that ties tax reductions to funding education with revenues from slot machines.

"I don't expect to see much in the way of tax reform from the legislation already enacted," Kauffman said. "We need to go in new ways and look for other methods of tax reform," he said.

During the campaign, Kauffman advocated a mixture of sales and income taxes to replace school property taxes.

Reforming medical malpractice laws, he said, will require amending the state constitution, according to Kauffman. "That was thwarted in the last session" of the General Assembly, he said.

"Before any real medical malpractice reform takes place, there has to be a constitutional amendment capping awards," he said.

Kauffman said the election resulted in a minor shift in the balance of power in the House with the Republicans picking up one seat to increase its majority to 110-93.

"It's a process of getting like-minded people elected," he said of the prospects for moving that agenda forward. However, he realizes he has a lot to learn as a freshman legislator.

"I'll have to get the lay of the land when I get there and see how things play out," he said.

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