Harkins: Nearly $1 million awarded to fight homelessness, fund home repairs, building improvements

(Jun 10, 2021)

ERIE, June 10 – Grant funding of $985,000 will help some of Erie’s most vulnerable residents find housing while ensuring others can obtain needed safety repairs, s tate Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced today. Harkins said the funding – administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency through the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund – will support programs to help residents at risk of homelessness secure housing and find paths to financial independence; assist low-income seniors needing home repairs; and allow the city housing authority to complete energy efficiency and security improvements to city buildings. “The pandemic has intensified hardships for Erie’s most vulnerable residents, including those who don’t have a safe place to call home,” Harkins said. “The funding awarded today is going to create new opportunities for our most vulnerable residents by giving them a path to housing and self-sufficiency. “Additional funding is going to help low-income seniors with essential housing repairs that can pose safety hazards and create safe, affordable housing for residents in need.” Harkins said the grants include the following: $160,000 to Greater Erie Community Action Committee for Senior Housing Improvement Program. $100,000 to Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $1 million awarded to bolster Erie County probation services, substance abuse treatment and education

(Jun 09, 2021)

ERIE, June 9 – More than $1 million in grants from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will improve Erie County probation services, help offenders transition to productive lives in the community and bolster resources for residents battling substance abuse, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the county will use some of the funding to boost programs that cut recidivism rates by offering effective alternatives to jail time. “Court-ordered treatment programs can sometimes accomplish much more than incarceration by addressing addiction, mental illness and other root causes of crime,” Harkins said. “That gives offenders a better chance of returning to the community in productive roles rather than landing back in prison. It also saves taxpayers the costs of incarceration, reunites families and puts people back to work so they can contribute to the economy.” Merski said, “In addition to strengthening probation services and court-ordered treatment programs, some of the funding awarded today will bring new hope for residents battling substance abuse by allowing the county to implement family behavior therapy. These intensive programs include in-home intervention that can rebuild lives and restore family relationships, creating benefits that flow to the whole community.” The grants – which also provide Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $50,000 awarded to support Erie historical preservation efforts

(Jun 02, 2021)

ERIE, June 2 – State grants totaling $50,000 from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will fund projects to preserve and promote Erie’s unique history, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the commission awarded two separate grants under the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program, including $25,000 each to the city of Erie and Presque Isle Light Station. “Erie’s history is filled with fascinating stories and places, but preserving them takes planning and preparation,” Merski said. “The funding awarded today is going to help ensure that historic sites like the Presque Isle Lighthouse and other uniquely Erie landmarks are around for future generations.” Harkins said, “This funding is truly an educational investment, because it will help us preserve the kind of connections to our past that future generations can touch and see and visit. Those insights into our roots are invaluable.” The lawmakers said the funding will go to the following projects: City of Erie – $25,000 to support newly formed historic preservation program The funding will allow the city to update its historic resource ordinance, create a permanent Historic Review Commission, pursue Certified Local Government designation, and hire a preservation planner to help develop a three-year plan for Read more

 

Nearly $7,500 to bolster urban agriculture in the Erie curriculum

(May 12, 2021)

ERIE, May 12 – Erie students will benefit from hands-on lessons in urban agriculture, thanks to a $7,478 grant that will support the Erie City School District’s urban greenhouse and garden project, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding under the state Department of Agriculture’s Ag and Youth Program – the second set of urban agricultural grants to Erie this month – will teach highly practical lessons in an outdoor classroom setting. “The past year has shown us the importance of equipping the next generation with skills that can empower residents in times of hardship and help our community be better prepared during emergencies and food shortages,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to enrich the Erie curriculum by including lessons in urban agriculture that teach these life-sustaining skills.” Harkins said, “The funding awarded today is going to support the Erie City School District’s Urban Greenhouse and Garden Project, which gives kids hands-on experience in growing food. Lessons like that, which yield real-life results, are the most lasting and powerful ones we can provide because they teach kids self-sufficiency. They also plant a seed of interest that will lead some students into agriculture as a career.” The 2021-22 Ag and Youth Program funded 57 projects, including 14 for Read more

 

Harkins, Merski join Acting Labor and Industry Secretary in calling for minimum wage increase

(May 12, 2021)

ERIE, May 12 – Pennsylvania’s working families have been waiting years for an increase in the state’s minimum wage that never comes, even as they watch workers in neighboring states benefit from increased purchasing power, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins told listeners at a virtual press event today with the Department of Labor and Industry. Speaking at the event with Acting Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier and an Erie child and home care worker, the lawmakers, both D-Erie, urged support of the administration’s plan to raise the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour, with a pathway to $15. “If the past year showed us anything, it’s that we could not have made it without the efforts of store clerks, delivery people, childcare workers and scores of other frontline workers,” Harkins said. “We’ve praised them and told them how much we value them, but at the end of the day, we haven’t done very much to put more money in their pockets or make it any easier for them to pay their bills. “Our minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009, even as all the states surrounding us have raised theirs. When I was Democratic chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, we pushed hard to find common ground with Republicans in the House and Senate to raise the minimum wage. We made progress in the Senate, but the House Read more

 

Harkins: Nearly $15,000 awarded to boost urban agriculture in Erie

(May 07, 2021)

ERIE, May 7 – State grants totaling nearly $15,000 will enhance urban agriculture in Erie by funding materials to start a new urban farm and supplying equipment for two existing businesses, state Rep. Pat Harkins announced today. Harkins, D-Erie, said the funding from the state Department of Agriculture includes $10,000 to the SSJ Neighborhood Network, which will use the funds for a project to convert two vacant parcels into a new urban farm; $2,500 to Green Thumb Organics for a water line, and $2,497 to Wild Field Urban Farm for refrigeration. “As urban farming takes root in Erie, small farms are creating jobs, stimulating the economy, bringing together neighbors, and expanding access to fresh foods,” Harkins said. “Securing this funding is especially exciting because it is going to allow SSJ Neighborhood Network to complete the groundwork on its project to create a new urban farm. “The funding will also allow two area businesses to grow by helping fund the equipment they need for production and storage operations. It’s terrific to see urban agriculture continue to flourish in the district.” The grants are part of a package of nearly $500,000 in funding to 42 projects statewide. The Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program provides reimbursement grants that improve urban agriculture infrastructure in Pennsylvania by investing in the system, filling gaps, encouraging Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $23,000 awarded to educate Erie students on watershed, climate change issues

(Apr 22, 2021)

ERIE, April 22 – Area students will learn more about stewardship of Erie’s unique watershed and the impact of climate change thanks to nearly $23,000 in grants to support environmental education, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today, on Earth Day. The lawmakers said the grants from the Department of Environmental Protection will fund hands-on teaching models for K-12 students. “Climate change isn’t an abstract concept that can be taught in textbooks,” Harkins said. “The reality is that it impacts critical life-sustaining issues like local food access. This funding is going to allow the Erie City School District to establish two middle school greenhouses that will serve as outdoor classrooms, planting the seeds of awareness that give students an understanding of the importance of climate issues.” Merski said, “Our students grow up by the water’s edge, and that experience becomes a part of their identity. But enjoying the lake’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities isn’t the same as understanding how to care for our unique and delicate watershed. It’s incumbent on us to make sure we pass along that knowledge, and the new wetland model will be a great tool for that.” The grants include: • $20,000 to the Regional Science Consortium to construct an Interactive Wetland Model to support K-12 nonformal Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Erie Downtown Partnership awarded $50,000 grant for pandemic relief

(Apr 14, 2021)

ERIE, April 14 – A $50,000 state grant will provide pandemic assistance to a critical Erie community development organization, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to the Erie Downtown Partnership will allow the collaborative to replenish resources exhausted by the pandemic. “As COVID created new and immediate concerns for businesses and neighborhoods, community development organizations like Erie Downtown Partnership were forced to shift priorities from long-term revitalization and renewal to addressing more urgent community needs, and they are playing an important part in our recovery” Merski said. “This funding will help replenish resources for the collaborative so it can continue its vital role in rebuilding our downtown.” Harkins said: “Our business community and neighborhoods have faced unprecedented challenges over the past year, but Erie’s partnership of business and property owners, organizations and other stakeholders have been tireless in their resolve to get us back on the path to recovery. This funding is an investment that keeps us moving in that direction.” The grant is part of a package of nearly $2 million to 43 projects statewide that have been approved for funding under the COVID-19 Relief - Supporting Elm and Main program. The Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $238,000 in funding awarded to bolster tech, computer curriculum for low-income Erie students

(Apr 13, 2021)

ERIE, April 13 – Grant funding of $237,909 from the state Department of Education will bring a tech-enriched curriculum – including classes in robotics and coding – to students at Erie RISE Leadership Academy Charter School, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding under the PAsmart Advancing Grants program promises to help low-income and minority students compete in an increasingly tech-intensive modern workplace. “Being tech-savvy is no longer considered an added bonus in the workplace – it’s a required skill that employers are demanding for most high-paying, family-sustaining jobs,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to help level the playing field for students in underserved, low-income communities by teaching them skills that provide an entry into computer science and tech fields.” Harkins said, “The funding to Erie RISE is exciting because it will allow the school to add to its curriculum in ways that we know provide a pathway to good jobs. By teaching skills like robotics and coding, we’re giving kids a foundation in the kinds of concrete, tech-based subjects that allow them to compete later on. We’re also building a stronger pool of candidates for local employers and earners who can invest that money back into the community.” Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $800,000 awarded to fund Erie recreational fishing projects

(Apr 12, 2021)

ERIE, April 12 – Erie anglers will enjoy enhanced fishing opportunities thanks to $804,200 in newly awarded grants from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers – both members of the House Game and Fisheries Committee – said most projects are being funded through the Erie Access Improvement Grant Program, which was recently expanded based on legislation co-authored by Harkins and Erie colleague Rep. Parke Wentling. “Our legislation created greater flexibility to use the proceeds of fishing permit revenue by expanding permissible projects beyond access and habitat related projects to all public fishing-related projects,” Harkins said. “We wanted to see folks benefit more broadly from the fees they pay into the system. That flexibility is now there, and it’s terrific to see it yielding results for local anglers.” Merski said, “It’s great to see these dollars going back into funding projects to enrich recreational opportunities on the water. Projects like the pier are especially exciting because they will allow more residents – including veterans who may have mobility issues – to get there and cast their lines.” The lawmakers said the following projects are funded by the Erie Access Improvement program: $202,200 to Western Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Erie County schools expected to receive more than $115 million to defray pandemic expenses, keep students learning

(Mar 29, 2021)

ERIE, March 29 – Erie school districts and charter schools are expected to receive a combined $115.1 million in federal funding to ensure services and safety measures are in place as more students return to the classroom, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding will address a wide range of needs, from restoring gaps in learning during the pandemic to fulfilling the need for new supplies and materials. “The pandemic strained school budgets, tested the limits of online learning and left educators and school officials with a litany of new challenges,” said Merski. “This funding will allow schools to allocate resources where they are most needed to ensure programs can address gaps in learning, replenish shrinking supplies and guarantee the resources needed to ensure a safe and successful return to the classroom.” Harkins said, “Securing this funding is going to help ensure that our school buildings are safe, students are well supported and teachers and other staff have the resources needed to make our way back to traditional classroom learning without leaving anyone behind.” The lawmakers said schools in Erie’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Legislative Districts will receive the following: Erie City School District – $60.7 million. Fort LeBoeuf School District – $3.5 million. Millcreek Read more

 

House passes Harkins bill to rid school code of offensive language

(Mar 22, 2021)

HARRISBURG, March 22 – Pennsylvania is one step closer to eliminating outdated, derogatory language in the state’s school code with the House’s passage today of a bill introduced by state Rep. Pat Harkins. Harkins, D-Erie, said H.B. 365 would remove antiquated, harmful terms to describe students with disabilities or mental health issues – terms he said have no place in the state’s progressive education system. “Pennsylvania’s school code was written in the middle of the last century, which was still the dark ages in terms of what we understood about the abilities of students with disabilities and mental health issues,” Harkins said. “The code language reflected this, using words like “crippled,” “defective” and “retarded,” and other terms that only serve to reinforce negative stereotypes. “Although the state Department of Education has been trying to address the problem, we need a unified state effort that delegitimizes this language by banishing it once and for all from our laws. Our education system has come far over the past decades, creating an inclusive classroom environment that allows students of all abilities to learn and achieve. Now, it’s time to lead by example and make sure the language we use reflects that progress.” Today’s vote represents the second time the House has acted on similar legislation drafted by Harkins. In May 2019, the Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $46,000 in grants will boost security for area nonprofits

(Mar 10, 2021)

ERIE, March 10 – More than $46,000 in state grants will fund security enhancements for two Erie community centers, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding, awarded under the Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program, includes $24,955 to the Islamic Association of Erie and $21,125 to the Urban Erie Community Development Corp. “No one should ever have to feel afraid or vulnerable to threats of violence, especially when they are gathering in their own community to worship, learn, improve their lives or support their neighbors,” Harkins said. “Securing this funding will help ensure that two well-loved organizations serving our community remain places of education and inspiration while also providing visitors the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are safe.” Merski said, “Erie pulled together to fight a major safety threat from the pandemic, and thankfully, as more vaccines become available, COVID should continue loosening its grip on our community. But even as public health risks diminish, we need to remain vigilant about protecting residents from other dangers, including security risks. The grants announced today will help provide the resources needed to make that happen.” The lawmakers said the funding may be used for a broad range of resources, including safety and security planning and Read more

 

As Hospitality Industry Recovery Program opens in Erie, Merski and Harkins urge local bars, restaurants to apply

(Mar 08, 2021)

ERIE, March 8 – The application period for Pennsylvania’s Hospitality Industry Recovery Program opens today for the Erie business community and state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are urging bars, restaurants and others in the hospitality industry to apply. “Of all the industries affected by the pandemic, bars and restaurants have been some of the hardest hit, and Erie is no exception,” Merski said. “They have faithfully complied with shutdown orders and restrictions, and that has come at a huge price. Now that the application process is open, local hospitality businesses have an opportunity to share in more than $3 million in funding. I’m urging those business owners to apply as soon as possible to get the relief flowing.” “The pandemic has placed a stranglehold on local mom-and-pop restaurants, bars, catering businesses and others in the industry,” Harkins added. “Although our community has been doing what it can to support these businesses, shutdowns and restrictions have made that extremely difficult. The funding program opening today can provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to help businesses get back on their feet, and I am encouraging businesses to apply immediately.” The lawmakers said businesses can apply here. To qualify, a business must: Have a North American Industry Classification System designation in the Accommodation Read more

 

Committee approves Harkins bill to remove offensive School Code language

(Mar 02, 2021)

ERIE, March 2 – A bill that would remove antiquated and offensive terminology from Pennsylvania’s School Code was unanimously approved today by the House Education Committee, according to the bill’s author, state Rep. Pat Harkins. Harkins, D-Erie, said he introduced H.B. 365 to eliminate derogatory terminology that reinforces the stigma surrounding mental health issues and disabilities. “Language shapes perception, and when official state codes use terms that stereotype or limit, this creates a destructive, long-lasting impression. Hopefully, with committee approval of my bill, we are one step closer to updating and modernizing official state terminology, and with it, the way students with disabilities are perceived.” Harkins, who has introduced the legislation in prior sessions, noted that the original state law, drafted in 1949, contained offensive terms such as “crippled,” “disturbed,” “handicapped” and “retarded.” Although he said the Department of Education has been working to update and correct some language, he believes it is time to resolve the issue permanently through legislation. “This is the 21st century,” Harkins said. “We are no longer stuck in the 1950s and constrained by the biases and ignorance of that era when it comes to what people with disabilities can achieve. Pennsylvania has taken huge strides to establish an inclusive classroom environment. Now, Read more

 

Harkins seeks to resolve confusion over why voters on ‘permanent’ mail-in ballot list are being asked to reapply

(Feb 25, 2021)

Harkins said voters who received the letter and wish to receive their ballots by mail for the 2021 elections should complete and submit the application form on the back of the letter. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins call for increase in vaccine doses to Erie

(Feb 17, 2021)

ERIE, Feb. 17 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins said Erie County is not getting its fair share of vaccine under the state’s distribution plan, and they are urging the governor and state health officials to correct the inequity. In a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam co-signed by other Erie state representatives, the lawmakers claim vaccine allocation is supposed to be based on population size, but records show Erie County is not getting a share proportional to its population. “Although Pennsylvania can’t control federal production and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the state can at least ensure that the supplies it does get are fairly distributed,” Merski said. “That isn’t happening right now – Erie is getting short shrift, and that’s not acceptable. “State records show Erie County has 2.1% of the state’s population, but it is only receiving 1.7% of the available vaccine. At the same time, it’s being reported that three counties in Pennsylvania representing 21% of the population are receiving more than one-third of the state’s total supply. We are urging Governor Wolf and state health officials to supply the additional doses to ensure Erie residents get the fair shot at this vaccine that they deserve.” Harkins said: “Our local Erie health officials and healthcare providers have the capacity to Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Penn State Behrend awarded $200,000 to develop tech training center for regional manufacturers

(Feb 10, 2021)

ERIE, Feb. 10 – A $200,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development will allow Penn State Behrend to develop a “4.0 Center of Excellence” for regional manufacturers, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the state’s Manufacturing Training-to-Career program will help ensure that area industry maintains a well-trained workforce. “With this funding, Penn State Behrend will be able to offer training in the latest tech-based tools that manufacturers need to compete in the modern digital world,” Harkins said. “By helping manufacturers ensure that worker skills keep pace with technological advancements – from robotics to digital systems to data analysis – the center will help regional industries reach more customers, speed production and improve efficiency. “I attended Penn State Behrend, and I am extremely excited to see the ways my alma mater will be helping our region remain competitive.” Merski said, “The new Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence is going to help bring manufacturing in our region further into 21 st century. Access to cutting-edge technology is one of the keys to competitiveness in the business world, but the technology is only effective if workers are trained to use it. By offering expanded workforce training on state-of-the-art systems, the new center is going to Read more

 

Harkins supports budget’s strong investment in education, working families

(Feb 03, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address today: “None of us could have imagined the widespread havoc COVID would wreak or the toll it would take, especially on our small business community. A major priority in the year ahead will be ensuring additional federal COVID relief funding makes it into the hands of our local businesses – and specifically the restaurants, taverns and bars and social clubs that are hanging on by a string – as quickly as possible. “In addition to the anticipated federal funding, I support the governor’s plan to distribute $145 million in state funding to help our small businesses survive. “Beyond helping our business community recover, education funding on all levels is a major priority, and I support the governor's proposal to increase the amount of basic education funding that is distributed through the fair funding formula. “Household income should never determine a child’s future, and the way to level the playing field is by ensuring that high quality public education is equally available to all kids and does not depend on a family’s ZIP code. I was encouraged by the governor’s proposal that would significantly increase funding for the Erie City School District, both in terms of basic education and special education Read more

 

State Grant Programs Now Open for Applications: June 15 Update

(Feb 02, 2021)

A listing of state grant programs open for applications. Click here to learn more. Read more

 

Harkins: Nearly $1 million awarded to fight homelessness, fund home repairs, building improvements
Jun 10, 2021

Harkins, Merski: More than $1 million awarded to bolster Erie County probation services, substance abuse treatment and education
Jun 09, 2021

Merski, Harkins: $50,000 awarded to support Erie historical preservation efforts
Jun 02, 2021

Nearly $7,500 to bolster urban agriculture in the Erie curriculum
May 12, 2021

Harkins, Merski join Acting Labor and Industry Secretary in calling for minimum wage increase
May 12, 2021

Harkins: Nearly $15,000 awarded to boost urban agriculture in Erie
May 07, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $23,000 awarded to educate Erie students on watershed, climate change issues
Apr 22, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Erie Downtown Partnership awarded $50,000 grant for pandemic relief
Apr 14, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $238,000 in funding awarded to bolster tech, computer curriculum for low-income Erie students
Apr 13, 2021

Harkins, Merski: More than $800,000 awarded to fund Erie recreational fishing projects
Apr 12, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Erie County schools expected to receive more than $115 million to defray pandemic expenses, keep students learning
Mar 29, 2021

House passes Harkins bill to rid school code of offensive language
Mar 22, 2021

Harkins, Merski: More than $46,000 in grants will boost security for area nonprofits
Mar 10, 2021

As Hospitality Industry Recovery Program opens in Erie, Merski and Harkins urge local bars, restaurants to apply
Mar 08, 2021

Committee approves Harkins bill to remove offensive School Code language
Mar 02, 2021

Harkins seeks to resolve confusion over why voters on ‘permanent’ mail-in ballot list are being asked to reapply
Feb 25, 2021

Merski, Harkins call for increase in vaccine doses to Erie
Feb 17, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Penn State Behrend awarded $200,000 to develop tech training center for regional manufacturers
Feb 10, 2021

Harkins supports budget’s strong investment in education, working families
Feb 03, 2021

State Grant Programs Now Open for Applications: June 15 Update
Feb 02, 2021