Merski, Harkins: Nearly $1 million awarded to expand housing assistance

(Jun 10, 2022)

ERIE, June 10 – Erie County organizations are receiving $970,000 in funding to expand housing-related services for families in need, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund will address a range of different needs that open doors for residents. “This funding will strengthen programs across the board for residents facing housing challenges,” Merski said. “Some of those dollars will support our most vulnerable residents, including folks in crisis, by strengthening resources for area shelters, while other funding will support home repair programs and programs to help families working toward first-time homeownership. All of the funding comes at an important time, when folks are still building back from the impacts of the pandemic.” Harkins said, “The stability that comes with having a home gives parents and caregivers the peace of mind to know their kids are safe, gives families the support of a caring community and provides people with the freedom and confidence to find work. Securing this funding today is going to help get those keys to self-sufficiency into the hands of more Erie residents in need.” The funding includes: $200,000 to Greater Erie Community Action Committee for the Corridor of Opportunity program. Read more

 

Erie awarded $37,500 for historical site survey, Old Customs House renovation

(Jun 09, 2022)

ERIE, June 9 – Erie is receiving two grants from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission: $25,000 to fund a historical site survey and $12,500 for the first phase of a project to preserve the Erie Art Museum’s Old Customs House, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the survey will help bring more of Erie’s past to light. “While much of Erie’s rich history is memorialized in treasures like the Brig Niagara, Presque Isle Light and Dickson Tavern, other markers of our past have yet to be discovered and preserved,” Merski said. “The survey funded by this grant is going to help us identify all historic resources within the city – including sites and landmarks that may be eligible for National Register of Historic Places designation – so they can add chapters to our unique story.” Harkins said the Old Customs House renovation is an important preservation project. “The Old Customs House contains more than 400 of the Erie Art Museum’s pieces and hosts several exhibitions yearly, but the structure is nearly two centuries old, and in significant need of preservation. This funding will help get that important project underway.” The funding is part of a package of Keystone Historic Preservation Grants awarded statewide and funded through the Keystone Recreation, Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $1 million awarded to strengthen victim supports, address student mental health, reduce recidivism

(Jun 08, 2022)

ERIE, June 8 – Erie County is receiving $1.02 million in funding to improve probation services, strengthen services for sexual assault victims, and respond to student mental health needs, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will ensure county services and supports have access to the staff, training and other resources needed for good outcomes. “Today’s funding is going to help us do more for victims of sexual assault by funding a Sexual Assault Response Team,” Merski said. “A swift team response means better professional support for those who have been traumatized by vicious crimes and heartier enforcement through training that improves investigation and prosecution of offenders. “Some of the funding will also help us better address student mental health needs by funding a mental health liaison to connect students needing support to counseling. Those services are critical for students who are in troubled or in crisis and may not know where to turn.” Harkins said, “In addition to strengthening resources for assault victims and student mental health needs, today’s funding will help improve county probation services and reduce recidivism. Some of those dollars will support key step-down, supervisory services that fill a gap between incarceration and probation. Read more

 

Harkins: Rule permitting clubs to use of 100% of small games of chance revenue for operating expenses ends this week

(Jun 06, 2022)

HARRISBURG, June 6 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, is reminding clubs in Erie and throughout Pennsylvania that beginning June 10, they must resume allocating 60% of their small games of chance revenue to public interest purposes. Harkins, who is Democratic chairman of House Gaming Committee, said the provisions of Act 118 of 2020 – which temporarily suspended the 60% rule and allowed organizations to keep 100% of their small games revenue for operating expenses – are set to expire. “I want to remind community clubs – including civic, fraternal and veterans’ organizations – that the temporary rule allowing them to use 100% of their small games of chance revenue for operating expenses is ending this Friday, June 10,” Harkins said. “The rule was essential for helping clubs meet operating expenses at time when pandemic-related closures and restrictions on gatherings severely limited revenue. “The legislation that established the new rule also created a time period for its application, permitting clubs to tap 100% of their small games proceeds during the governor’s disaster declaration and for up to one year following termination of the declaration. That period is ending this week, which means clubs will return to the standard rule, with 40% of the revenue used for costs and 60% for public interest programs and projects.” Organizations eligible for Small Games of Chance licenses in Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $530,000 in tax credits approved to boost young tech companies in Erie

(May 12, 2022)

ERIE, May 12 – Early-stage technology companies in Erie will benefit from $530,714 in tax credits approved today, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the Keystone Innovation Zone tax credits will be key to helping a growing Erie industry flourish. “Erie’s growing tech industry is diversifying our manufacturing and business sectors and bringing more family-sustaining jobs to the region,” Harkins said. “But for young companies, solvency and cash flow can pose huge challenges. The tax credits awarded today will make it easier for these companies to grow so they can stay in Erie, strengthen their bases in the community and expand.” Merski said, “It’s exciting to see more and more tech companies putting down roots here in Erie, but we need to make sure we can offer the favorable business climate and incentives they need to survive and thrive here. One way is by lowering the state corporate income tax, and another is by providing tax credits like the ones awarded today, which help reduce the burden on young companies starting out.” The lawmakers say the tax credits include: Evident Holding Company, LLC – $26,087 Institute on Healthcare Directives – $11,370 Makerplace Inc. – $100,000 VelocityNet Video, Inc. – $40,735 Steel Toe Consulting, Read more

 

Harkins, Merski encouraged by turnout at town hall addressing cell issues

(May 06, 2022)

ERIE, May 6 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins said they were heartened that yesterday’s live town hall to address cell service problems on Presque Isle, the lake, and the surrounding shore drew a strong crowd and participation by area cell service providers. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the event was an opportunity to bring those companies together with community members so providers could understand the urgency of the problem. “This is an issue that has been coming up year after year with service along the lakeshore,” Merski said. “Calls are constantly being dropped, and for folks who live close to water and below the bluff, sometimes there is no service at all. It’s posing a safety issue, especially as more and more people have cut the cord on their land lines. “We heard from a Harborcreek Township woman who tried to call 911 when her husband needed emergency medical help, and the call kept dropping. Thankfully, she was able to get help, but the incident showed us how critical it is to get stronger service and why we need to address this now. People’s lives can be quite literally on the line. “It’s also a cost issue. The Harborcreek resident ended up having to sign up for a land line. We shouldn’t force people to undergo extra expenses. Companies should be providing this cell service as part of their obligation under the Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $2.25M loan funding 90,000-SF warehouse, distribution center

(May 04, 2022)

ERIE, May 4 – A low-interest loan of $2.25 million to the Enterprise Development Center of Erie County will fund construction of a 90,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center for lease to an expanding manufacturer, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said EDCEC will enter into a 15-year lease with Berry Plastics as the global manufacturer and marketer of plastic packaging products looks to expand its Erie presence. “The new funding is terrific news for our local workforce,” Harkins said. “When companies like Berry expand their footprint, it means new job opportunities for the district. With the plans for the new warehouse underway, Berry has already committed to creating 15 full-time jobs and retaining 145 current positions within three years. We are proud to have Berry here and even more excited to see this project get a boost with this new loan funding.” Merski said, “Berry has been a valued local employer for years now, and we are thrilled to see them expanding again. Our thanks to Tina Mengine and the Erie County Redevelopment Authority for their efforts to secure this funding, which helps ensure that this global leader continues growing its operations right here in Erie.” Harkins said the 15-year loan has a $1.5% reset interest rate. The total project cost for the facility – to be located at 1501 Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $1.5 million awarded for Erie-area recycling projects

(Apr 27, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 27 – Erie-area recycling and leaf-collection programs will get a boost from $1.48 million in grant funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding is part of a package of Recycling Development and Implementation grants that will help communities launch or continue successful programs. “Erie business owners and residents understand the economic and ecological benefits of recycling, and our communities have embraced these efforts,” Harkins said. “The investments made today are going to ensure those programs keep running strong.” Merski said, “This funding is extremely practical -- communities can use it to expand recycling facilities, start or continue curbside programs, operate leaf compost facilities, and other programs that make a very real impact when it comes to saving money, saving energy, creating jobs and all the other benefits those programs bring.” The following communities will receive grant funding: Erie City – $350,000. Millcreek Township – $350,000. Erie County – $334,622. Edinboro Borough – $291,103. Fairview Township – $153,000. Through the grant program, municipalities and counties in Pennsylvania are eligible for up to 90% funding of approved Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $350,000 awarded for projects to improve Erie fishing opportunities

(Apr 26, 2022)

ERIE, April 26 – Erie anglers will benefit from $348,600 in funding awarded by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the following two grants were awarded through the Erie Access Improvement Grant Program, which was expanded based on legislation co-authored by Harkins and Erie colleague state Rep. Parke Wentling: $248,700 to Western PA Port Authority for Parade Street Dock Access Rehabilitation. The dock’s public access wall has failed, creating sidewalk cracking requiring the dock’s closure. The funding will allow the Port Authority and S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie Fishing Club to reconstruct the handicapped accessible fishing area by building a new sheet-pile retaining wall and concrete walkway and installing safety ladders. The facility and adjacent parking lot will be ADA-accessible. $99,900 to Penn State/Pennsylvania Sea Grant for Manchester Falls fish passage study. The Pennsylvania Sea Grant will lead a feasibility and design study to provide a framework for increasing fish passage and improved fishing opportunities upstream of Manchester Falls of Walnut Creek. The study will also address prevention of invasive species migration upstream. “The Parade Street dock along Presque Isle Bay has offered years of enjoyment as a special place for all anglers, including Read more

 

Erie Delegation: $7.75 million coming to boost regional economy

(Apr 22, 2022)

State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, D-Erie, today announced the approval of $7.75 million in funding for four economic development projects in Erie County. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski to host May 5 live town hall addressing Presque Isle, Lake Erie cell service problems

(Apr 19, 2022)

ERIE, April 19 – State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, will host a live town hall May 5 to address cell phone signal problems on and around Presque Isle and Lake Erie. The lawmakers said the event – from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Room 112 of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center – will bring together residents, business owners, local groups, county and state officials, and other stakeholders to identify the scope of the problem and lay the groundwork for developing solutions. “Our phones are lifelines to the rest of the world – connections for getting help in dangerous situations or contacting loved ones to let them know we’re OK,” Harkins said. “But for residents living near Lake Erie, tourists visiting Presque Isle and the surrounding shoreline, and businesses that rely on the lake, service has been unreliable and sometimes non-existent. Those connections are essential, and we need to get them working as soon as possible.” Merski said, “This is more than a convenience issue – it’s a public safety issue. It’s also an issue that affects the local businesses and the recreation and tourism that are so important to our area. Our live town hall will be an opportunity for residents and other stakeholders to discuss concerns and start collaborating on ways to solve the problem.” Speakers will include representatives Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: New construction projects coming to region

(Apr 13, 2022)

ERIE, April 13 – Infrastructure projects coming to Erie and Pennsylvania’s northwest region will spell new opportunities for workers while shoring up public safety, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins said today after administration officials visited Erie to highlight nearly $300 million worth of projects for the region. The lawmakers said funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – which will support nearly 90 new or continuing projects – is good news on multiple levels. “Beyond building new roads and stronger bridges to connect our region, these projects will be bridges to greater economic opportunities for residents who do not have higher education degrees or specialized training,” said Merski, who is chair of the House Democratic Caucus’ Northwest Delegation. “It’s an opportunity to help families on an individual level build back their own financial independence as we strengthen the regional economy.” Harkins, who is delegation treasurer, said, “The recent Pittsburgh bridge collapse reminded everyone how vital these infrastructure projects will be – not just as a shot in the arm to our regional economy but from a public safety standpoint. It was a miracle no one was killed in that collapse, but we might not be as fortunate the next time around. As far as I’m concerned, we can’t get this work started soon Read more

 

Harkins joins labor officials at state Capitol to push for public worker protections

(Apr 11, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 11 – State Rep. Pat Harkins joined labor officials at the state Capitol today as the state announced plans to study the feasibility of extending Occupational Safety and Health Act protections to Pennsylvania’s public-sector workers and urged support for Harkins’ legislation to put those protections in place. Harkins, D-Erie, said he hopes the study will move the state closer to passing H.B. 1976 , which would bring long-overdue protections to the more than 600,000 Pennsylvanians employed by state and local government. “For years, Pennsylvania’s public-sector workers – from first responders, transit workers and bus mechanics, to maintenance workers, equipment operators and water treatment plant workers – have been clocking into workplaces that are less safe than the ones run by private employers,” Harkins said. “That’s because OHSA regulations apply only to private businesses – they don’t protect public-sector workers. “These public-sector workers are the same ones who keep our families protected, our buses running, our roads repaired and our water safe. They face the same dangers – and in some cases, even greater ones – than private-sector workers. Surely, they deserve the same protections. “The feasibility study announced today will examine the benefits and costs of extending OSHA protections to public-sector Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Gannon, Penn State Behrend students’ research projects to share in $2.3 million in grant funding

(Apr 08, 2022)

ERIE, April 8 – Research projects from student teams at Gannon University and Penn State Behrend were among 36 projects selected statewide to share in grant funding totaling $2.3 million, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants – administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development under the Manufacturing PA Initiative – were awarded to projects statewide that will help advance innovation in manufacturing sectors including 3D printing, waste sustainability, autonomous navigation, and several other areas. “I work closely with Gannon University President Keith Taylor, and I am constantly amazed and inspired by the talented minds Gannon, Penn State Behrend, and our region’s other universities attract,” Harkins said. “Innovation starts right here, at the local level, with ideas from young, bright minds. With support from area businesses and other partners, those ideas grow into plans and applications, and then into real-world manufacturing advances. “We are so proud of our brilliant young students, and also thankful to the local business community partners who partner with our schools to make this kind of innovation happen.” Merski said: “I want to congratulate the Penn State Behrend and Gannon University students who were involved in these projects, which show so much initiative and innovation. Efforts Read more

 

Merski, Harkins announce more than $8.3 million to Erie child care centers

(Apr 06, 2022)

ERIE, April 6 – Federal funding of more than $8.3 million will help stabilize Erie’s hard-hit child care industry so providers can be there for the families who rely on them, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the American Rescue Plan Act funding will provide nearly 100 Erie city childcare centers with grants ranging from $4,200 to $571,000. “Reliable, affordable child care is essential for working families,” Merski said. “Without it, parents are tied to the home and drastically limited in their job options. Unfortunately, lengthy shutdowns, declining enrollments and other pandemic-related problems dealt a huge blow to most child care providers, leaving many struggling just to keep their doors open. This funding will help with critical expenses to get these businesses – so vital to working families – back on their feet.” Harkins said, “Centers can use the dollars for a wide range of resources, including recruiting and retention programs; operational costs like rent, utilities, maintenance and insurance; equipment and supplies; mental health services for children and staff; and reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses, among other costs. Stabilizing the industry is critical for families trying to get back to work.” According to the state Department of Human Services, which administers the funding, centers will Read more

 

Harkins, Merski announce more than $6.6 million to area health care centers

(Mar 23, 2022)

ERIE, March 23 – Erie hospitals and behavioral healthcare centers strained by the pandemic will be receiving more than $6.6 million in federal funding to replenish resources and fund recruitment and retention efforts, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding, which represents Erie’s share of $225 million in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan Act, will provide critical reinforcements to healthcare workers who have remained on the front lines throughout the pandemic. “The pandemic showed us the heroic side of so many Erie workers, and our healthcare workers are a shining example of that,” Harkins said. “Incredibly dedicated frontline medical personnel have been working tirelessly through extreme challenges, and they need reinforcements. This funding is going to allow Erie hospitals and care providers deliver those reinforcements by funding recruitment and retention of staff and other critical resources.” Merski said, “Staffing shortages have not only strained our health care resources but can affect patient care. Securing this funding brings relief to frontline workers and also helps ensure that Erie residents continue receiving the dedicated level of health care they deserve.” The funding includes the following: LECOM Health Corry Memorial Hospital -- $118,100 Millcreek Community Hospital Read more

 

Harkins, Merski announce $500,000 grant to Erie City School District

(Mar 17, 2022)

ERIE, March 17 – The Erie City School District is receiving $500,000 in new state funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the Ready to Learn block grant will help the historically underfunded district shore up academic resources. “The new funding will help get critical resources into the hands of students and teachers,” Harkins said. “For decades, Erie City School District has been severely underfunded, in some cases operating with several thousand dollars less per student than other districts around the state. “We fought hard to get $14 million in recurring aid that is helping the district exit financial watch status and for level-up funding that is helping to level the playing field somewhat. But until fair funding is applied across the board – to every education dollar allocated – our students are still getting shortchanged. “A state court is finally reviewing the issue, and the right decision could right the tables once and for all. But until that happens, the district can use every dollar in additional funding it can get.” Merski said that the grant can be used to address a broad range of needs. “Ready to Learn grants are especially helpful because districts can use the funding to create or expand academics, reduce class size, build STEM skills, and strengthen other resources that Read more

 

Rep. Pat Harkin's 2022 Winter Newsletter

(Mar 10, 2022)

Rep. Pat Harkin's 2022 Winter Newsletter Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $222,000 awarded to fight crime, reduce recidivism

(Mar 09, 2022)

ERIE, March 9 – The city of Erie will have new resources to combat crime, reduce gun violence and guide former offenders toward productive lives thanks to $221,836 in grant funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency includes three separate grants of federal funding that will continue the work of a police intelligence analyst, target gun violence and redirect offenders toward productive lives. “Securing this funding will allow us to up our game when it comes to tracking, investigating and prosecuting crime,” Merski said. “Part of the funds will support the work of a police intelligence analyst – a position that provides critical assistance in identifying suspects and witnesses and supplying other information that leads to arrests and convictions. Other funding will support ongoing targeted enforcement of gun and gang violence for safer neighborhoods.” Harkins said, “Equally important to crime investigation and prosecution is how we deal with folks exiting the criminal justice system and returning to the community, because the resources we provide can make a critical difference in the path they take and whether they end up returning to productive lives or falling back into recidivism. Some of the funding we secured today will bolster services that steer Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $118,000 awarded to upgrade Blasco Memorial Library

(Mar 09, 2022)

ERIE, March 9 – Blasco Memorial Library will be receiving some important upgrades, thanks to newly awarded funding of $117,757, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding -- awarded by the state Department of Education under the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund – will make the library safer and more accessible for visitors. “The grant is going to help Blasco with several important renovations, including construction of ADA-accessible restrooms on the second floor and upgrades to the existing 25-year-old elevators,” Harkins said. “The work is going to enhance safety for visitors and ensure that residents with mobility issues are able to enjoy the library as fully as everyone else.” Merski said, “Blasco brings our community together in the best possible ways – for learning, storytelling, community events and exhibits that celebrate our unique Erie culture and history. The funding awarded today is going to help modernize some of the facilities so visitors have the best possible experience.” The lawmakers said grant will fund half the projects’ total cost of $235,515. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $1 million awarded to expand housing assistance
Jun 10, 2022

Erie awarded $37,500 for historical site survey, Old Customs House renovation
Jun 09, 2022

Merski, Harkins: More than $1 million awarded to strengthen victim supports, address student mental health, reduce recidivism
Jun 08, 2022

Harkins: Rule permitting clubs to use of 100% of small games of chance revenue for operating expenses ends this week
Jun 06, 2022

Harkins, Merski: More than $530,000 in tax credits approved to boost young tech companies in Erie
May 12, 2022

Harkins, Merski encouraged by turnout at town hall addressing cell issues
May 06, 2022

Harkins, Merski: $2.25M loan funding 90,000-SF warehouse, distribution center
May 04, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $1.5 million awarded for Erie-area recycling projects
Apr 27, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $350,000 awarded for projects to improve Erie fishing opportunities
Apr 26, 2022

Erie Delegation: $7.75 million coming to boost regional economy
Apr 22, 2022

Harkins, Merski to host May 5 live town hall addressing Presque Isle, Lake Erie cell service problems
Apr 19, 2022

Merski, Harkins: New construction projects coming to region
Apr 13, 2022

Harkins joins labor officials at state Capitol to push for public worker protections
Apr 11, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Gannon, Penn State Behrend students’ research projects to share in $2.3 million in grant funding
Apr 08, 2022

Merski, Harkins announce more than $8.3 million to Erie child care centers
Apr 06, 2022

Harkins, Merski announce more than $6.6 million to area health care centers
Mar 23, 2022

Harkins, Merski announce $500,000 grant to Erie City School District
Mar 17, 2022

Rep. Pat Harkin's 2022 Winter Newsletter
Mar 10, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $222,000 awarded to fight crime, reduce recidivism
Mar 09, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $118,000 awarded to upgrade Blasco Memorial Library
Mar 09, 2022