EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidate Jeremiah York could not be reached before the Journal-News deadline Friday, but we talked with him Saturday and included his comments in this updated version.
Incumbent State Sen. Bill Coley is seeking re-election to the Ohio’s 4th Senate seat, but three others are hoping to unseat the man who was elected in 2012, a year after winning the appointment.
Challengers in this race are Liberty Twp. businessman Eric Gurr, Fairfield Twp. real estate broker Joe Ebbing and West Chester Twp. resident Jeremiah York.
Coley, R-Liberty Twp., gave long consideration to be one of the candidates to replace former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner in Congress, but said the work he started five years ago when appointed to the Ohio Senate from the Ohio House is still unfinished.
“We’re getting stuff done,” said Coley. “We still have a long way to go and I want things to get better and I appreciate all the support people in the 4th Senate District has given me.”
Coley, who was one of the few Republicans in the Ohio Senate to vote against Medicaid expansion, said the state has gone from the fifth highest tax state in the country to 27th, and he has a plan that would reduce it even further.
Coley said he is working to introduce legislation that would dramatically change the taxing structure in the state to a 3.75 percent flat tax, or cheaper. He said it will bring in $188 million, and give Ohioans the flexibility to have higher income exemptions on taxes.
“You would have a really good chance going into the future,” he said.
His tax plan is revenue neutral, so it would not add to the already $2 billion state rainy day fund, nor would it dip into it.
He is also working to help the 8 percent of Ohioans who are uninsured despite the expansion of Medicaid, including incorporating the Federally Qualified Health Center program, which would be modeled after the Florida program, he said.
Gurr said he saw some of the things Coley had done, and was concerned. Most notably it was when Coley said he would “raise taxes” on casinos “and they’re already taxed really high.”
In August, Coley introduced Senate Bill 140 that limits the amount of non-taxable promotional gaming credits to $5 million for qualified establishments. Under Ohio law there is no limit. The bill is currently in the Senate Finance committee, of which Coley is vice chairman.
“At a certain pint you don’t raise taxes any more,” Gurr said. “I don’t think these people are bad, but I think these are career politicians and they get stuck in a rut.”
He said the bigger picture needs to be taken into account, and spending needs to be put into check.
Gurr also wants to address education. He said not only should Common Core be removed, but education needs to be more in control of those at the local level and not the state level.
“It should come from Lakota, Madison Twp,. and other school districts,” he said. “We’re doing good, but I think we can do better.”
Among the other things he’d like to address: college affordability.
Gurr said one idea he’d explore is to find out what common classes are taught at all state-funded public colleges and universities and require those classes to be taught by just a couple professors via online streaming.
“You can have the best professors in the world (in those subjects),” he said. “The kids can get a better education, and they can do it at home.”
He’d also cut redundancy among departments and responsibilities.
“It’s the burden of government itself,” he said. “If you read through that budget, you start realizing how much duplicate effort there is.”
Ebbing, of Fairfield Twp., would also make several cuts, namely to laws on the books that are irrelevant or what he sees as not making sense.
“All of our government is of the people, by the people and for the people, but that’s not the way it works,” he said. “In all level of government, we have government that fleeces the people. It seems that the purpose of government is to raise money so people can keep their own jobs.”
One rule he’d like to repeal is the fact that judges in Ohio must have a law degree. He said the judicial system has “It’s become absolutely corrupt since (that law was enacted). It’s rare that you have a contested judicial race.”
He said because laws are absolute, “there’s no interpretation possible” and if they need to be interpreted, then that law is “ambiguous and if it’s ambiguous it’s therefore unconstitutional.”
“Laws have to be immutable. They can’t be changed, they can’t be wishy-washy,” he said. “You don’t have a law degree to understand the law, all you have to be honest. You have to be honorable. That’s all that we ask.”
York said he would like to see more of the country’s Judeo-Christian history return how politicians legislate in the Ohio Senate, and Statehouse.
“I believe our government is forsaking the Bible and our Constitution, and as a Christian I believe we have to resist this anti-Christ agenda,” said York
He would push House Bill 69, “Heartbeat Bill,” a bill that would make it illegal to abort a fetus after 5 weeks, and work against Senate Bill 127, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which makes abortion illegal after 20 weeks. Both bills have received approval from one have of the General Assembly — H.B. 69 passed the House and S.B. 127 passed the Senate — and have been assigned to committees in the opposing chamber. An earlier version of the “Heartbeat Bill” passed the Ohio House in 2011 but failed to make it out of a Senate committee in the last General Assembly.
York, a U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz supporter, said he would institute the idea of “nullification” into the Ohio Senate and General Assembly.
“The beautiful thing is there are people who are constitutionally minded enough that understand nullification,” he said.
“Nullification” is a legal theory that asserts that states have the right to invalidate any federal law which the state deems unconstitutional. However, “nullification” has never been tested in court, according to the BYU Law Review.
The act of nullification would be tested on recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings concerning Obamacare and gay marriage, which he said the state’s previous definition of marriage as between one man and one woman should stand.
He would also work to “completely” repeal Common Core.
“I’m going to do what I think needs to be done regardless of what anyone thinks or says,” York said.
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