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: Feb. 16 Update

(Feb 02, 2021)

STATE GRANT PROGRAMS NOW OPEN FOR APPLICATIONS: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Hemp Promotion, Education and Export Promotion Matching Grant Program (Funding Source: General Fund) Who May Apply : Nonprofit agricultural product promotion and marketing organizations. Use : Projects aimed at increasing sales, export or consumer awareness of Pennsylvania hemp products. Eligible projects may include regional or national promotion. Funds : Reimbursement grants up to 50% of project costs. The minimum matching grant is $1,000. A total of $253,000 will be available statewide. Application Deadline : March 5 More Information : See the February 13, 2021, PA Bulletin at Pennsylvania Bulletin (pacodeandbulletin.gov) . Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: Federal Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (Funding Source: Federal Fund ing ) Who May Apply : State and local organizations, producer associations, academia, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders. Use : Projects that will increase visibility and competitiveness of the state’s horticultural specialty crops including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants and nursery crops. Funds : Requests may be made for a minimum of $20,000, provided the amount reasonably represents the cost of the intended project. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins assume new leadership roles in Northwest Delegation

(Jan 28, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 28 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are taking on new leadership roles in the state legislature’s Northwest Delegation, with Merski elected vice chairman and Harkins elected treasurer for the 2021-22 legislative session. As they embrace their new roles, the lawmakers, both D-Erie, said they are mindful of the challenges that lay ahead. “Restoring the economic health of our region will require the Northwest Delegation to play an active role in speaking out for Erie and the needs of our region, and I am looking forward to helping lead that effort as vice chairman of the delegation,” Merski said. “Being Erie’s voice in Harrisburg means understanding the specific challenges residents are facing here in our corner of the state, from a need for greater job opportunities and career training to reliable childcare and affordable health care. “Working families and small business owners in our region are looking to us for answers, and their needs will be front-and-center as we work to develop solutions that recharge our economy and restore quality of life.” Harkins said: “We know that it will not be an easy road ahead as Erie continues shaking off the economic impacts of the pandemic, and the delegation will need to be a stronger voice than ever as we work to get our region back on its feet. As the new delegation treasurer, I will be doing everything in my power help guide our small Read more

 

Merski, Harkins laud Erie blogger honored by historical society

(Jan 27, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 27 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are hailing local resident Erin Phillips, who was awarded a Community Initiative Award for 2020 from the State Historic Preservation Office for her “Old Erie on Foot” Instagram account and blog. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said Phillips’ work, which encourages others to discover and explore Erie’s historic places, is bringing attention to the area’s rich past and encouraging others to learn and participate. “Some communities are lucky enough to have natural storytellers who have a knack for sharing their love of history in a relatable, engaging way that excites others,” Merski said. “Erin Phillips is one of those natural storytellers. The stories and photos in her blog and Instagram account, “Old Erie on Foot,” have inspired thousands to learn more about the people, places and events that shaped us.” Harkins said: “We are so proud of Erin Phillips for her work in bringing attention to Erie’s rich history. Local history comes alive when it is shared by those who have roots in the community. By encouraging readers to explore historical buildings, homes and other sites, Ms. Phillips is laying a path through the fascinating events that happened here and inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.” According to the historic preservation office – a bureau of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Read more

 

Troubleshooting PUA claims: How to reopen/reactivate a PUA claim

(Jan 27, 2021)

How to reopen/reactivate a PUA claim : Log in to your dashboard Select “File for Weekly Benefits” Then select “File Your Weekly Certification to Continue Your Claim” You will see the message “You currently have a claim established however it is inactive.” Click on “here.” It will seem as if you are opening a new claim. The system knows you are only attempting to reopen the claim you already have established. Click Next. You will see the Welcome to Pennsylvania’s Pandemic Unemployment Portal Page. Click next. The next eight pages are pre-populated based on your initial claim information. You will click next after verifying the information is correct on each page. If it is not correct, you should make updates at this time. Note: This includes things such as your email, address, date of birth, education information and employment status. You will also be asked the COVID questions. PLEASE NOTE THAT FOR THE MAJOR DISASTER INFORMATION QUESTION YOU SHOULD SELECT COVID -19 NOT COVID 19 -2 If you reported that you are self-employed, the system will ask for you 2020 wages. This is an error. You should enter all 0s for those wages. You will also need to answer if you have worked since you last filed for weeks. If you have worked, you must click the “I have worked since my last Read more

 

Merski, Harkins co-hosting COVID-19 Virtual Vaccine Town Hall Jan. 25

(Jan 21, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 21 – Erie residents can find answers to their questions about the COVID-19 vaccine by attending a virtual vaccine town hall at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said they are co-hosting the online event with their House and Senate Democratic colleagues and the state Department of Health to bring residents up to date on the latest vaccine information. “The state health department just announced that it is expanding the category of residents eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to include people 65 and older and those 16 to 64 with serious health conditions,” Merski said. “While that’s good news, most of us still have questions about the timetable and what it means for everyone in the Erie community. “I’m encouraging everyone with questions to register for the event, which will feature a health department official answering questions in an online, live forum.” Harkins said: “The COVID-19 vaccine is bringing cause for hope but also a host of questions -- from how safe and effective it is to when folks can expect to receive theirs. This is new territory for all of us, and we want to make sure the community has access to the latest, most accurate information. Joining the live event will give folks a chance to get that information straight from the best source – the state health department.” Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $41.4 million to Erie schools to support continued learning during pandemic

(Jan 15, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 15 – Area school districts will receive approximately $41.44 million in federal funding under the CARES Act to ensure students have the resources they need to continue learning during the pandemic, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to four school districts and three charter schools will help ensure educators have the resources and supports needed to continue a quality, safe curriculum. “Erie is fortunate to have incredibly dedicated school officials, teachers and support staff who are 100% dedicated to keeping quality instruction flowing at all levels K-12,” Merski said. “Throughout the pandemic, they have been working to keep the curricula engaging despite wrestling with tight budgets and strained resources. The funding announced today is going to put more resources into their hands to help them ensure students keep learning and thriving in a safe environment.” Harkins said: “The pandemic has tested the limits of our public education system. This much-needed infusion of funding is going help our talented educators continue inspiring kids and our districts ensure that all the planning and protections are in place to keep them safe. I am encouraging districts to apply as soon as they are able.” The lawmakers said districts will receive the following funding: Erie City School District Read more

 

Harkins announces committee appointments for 2021-22 legislative session

(Jan 12, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 12 – State Rep. Pat Harkins announced today that he has been appointed to the House Professional Licensure, Liquor Control, and Game and Fisheries Committees for the 2021-22 legislative session. Harkins said he is looking forward to playing an active role in developing legislative solutions that speed recovery to the community and small business owners . “Even as we begin the normal committee work of reviewing new legislation, there is nothing normal about this year,” Harkins said. “With community businesses and working families struggling to get back on their feet, we will be laser-focused on moving bills that help return the commonwealth to more stable economic ground. “In the months ahead, I will be working on promoting legislative solutions from the ground level, whether they involve expanding opportunities for licensed employees and constructive use of licensing fees, ensuring the most effective use of liquor sale revenue, or ensuring safe, affordable recreational opportunities for sportsmen and anglers. “Above all, we will be working to ensure that legislation designed to speed recovery and improve life for residents makes it to the full House for a vote.” The Professional Licensure Committee reviews bills involving licensing for qualified employees and businesses and includes Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Erie senior centers to benefit from nearly $50,000 in grants

(Jan 07, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 7 – State funding of $49,383 will help Erie’s senior centers weather the financial impact of the pandemic so they can continue serving the needs of older adults and resume full-scale operations in the future, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers said the funding from the state Department of Aging will go to the area’s agency on aging – the Greater Erie Community Action Committee Agency – to be divided equally among the county’s senior community centers. “ Our area’s senior centers provide Erie’s older adults with incredibly important connections to the community,” Harkins said. “But like all other businesses and organizations, they are feeling the economic brunt of the pandemic keenly. This funding is going to give them the shot in the arm they need to continue operating so they can safely welcome seniors back to a full range of engaging activities once it is safe to do so.” Merski said: “Our local Erie senior centers offer older adults access to vital services such as nutritious meals and transportation, but they also provide so much more in terms of quality of life –fitness, learning, volunteering and all the other activities that keep seniors engaged. “The funding announced today will be a lifeline for our area centers, which will be able to use the money Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $30,000 awarded to Mercyhurst University as part of statewide campaign to combat campus sexual assault

(Jan 06, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 6 – A $29,250 grant to Mercyhurst University under the state’s “It’s On Us” program will help ensure students remain safe from the threat of sexual violence, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers said the grant will help the school implement strategies to raise awareness about sexual violence and prevention, the reporting process and the resources available for survivors. “Sexual violence has no place in our community, but the reality is that it can happen anywhere –including college campuses – with devastating effects,” Merski said. “College is a place for young adults to learn, thrive and mature, but that’s only possible if they feel safe. The grant funding awarded will help ensure Mercyhurst has the resources it needs to maintain the safest possible environment for all students.” Harkins said: “No student should live in fear, but banishing the threat of sexual violence requires resources and vigilance. This grant will fund programs to raise awareness about this repugnant crime, help prevent campus assaults, and ensure students are aware of protections, reporting procedures and other available resources.” The funding for Mercyhurst University is part of a package of grants to postsecondary schools statewide. The schools use the funding for programs ranging from campus-wide training for students, educators and staff to campaigns to raise Read more

 

Harkins sworn in to eighth term representing state’s 1st Legislative District

(Jan 05, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 5 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, was sworn in today at the state Capitol in Harrisburg, beginning his eighth term representing Pennsylvania’s 1st Legislative District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Reaffirming his commitment to the Erie community, Harkins said his top priority will be helping residents and business owners overcome the multiple challenges created by the pandemic. “I am deeply committed to fighting for our district and ensuring that residents and small business owners get the funding they need to make it through this period,” Harkins said. “COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our community, threatening the survival of mom-and-pop businesses, destroying jobs and making it hard for families to meet basic living expenses. “My No. 1 priority in the year ahead will be bringing more money back to our district so we can begin to see meaningful recovery. At the same time, I will be working to expand access to job opportunities, affordable housing, and the quality health care and public education our residents deserve. “Even as the pandemic made life so difficult, Erie residents responded with strength and generosity. I am so proud to represent our district, and I plan to do everything in my power to help us build back quickly and return to a healthy local economy.” Harkins said his Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $162k to launch Erie watershed steward program

(Dec 30, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 30 – A $162,422 grant to the Pennsylvania State University will help ensure Erie volunteers have the knowledge and resources they need to keep stewardship of the coastal region alive and well, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener Program will fund the Erie launch of the Master Watershed Steward Program, which will train volunteers in watershed management so they can educate the community based on the latest university research and recommendations. “The steward program will broaden the knowledge base of Erie’s many volunteers who are devoted to caring for our coast and protecting our watershed,” said Harkins, who is a member of the Great Lakes Commission. “Armed with the latest information and research, those volunteers can pass this information along at the local level. Launch of the program in our area – made possible by this funding – is going to ensure that our precious lake region benefits from state-of-the-state conservation and management techniques.” Merski said: “Erie has some incredibly talented volunteers who understand our coastal region’s unique needs. But maintaining a balance between use and enjoyment on one hand and preservation of delicate ecosystems on the other is a constant Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $23 million to fund multiple Erie revitalization projects

(Dec 23, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 23 – Erie will be receiving an infusion of $23 million in funding from the state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, state Reps. Patrick Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding includes major capital investments that will spur growth and economic development for the area. “The funding awarded today brings the promise of major change and revitalization for Erie and our entire region,” Merski said. “The grants will be funding projects that are truly transformative, from a new community college to renovations for Mercyhurst University’s athletic center to new commercial development. We will also see funding to renovate and expand the SeaWolves’ team clubhouse and add a new structure to the park – the kind of investments that help keep our beloved SeaWolves here in Erie.” Harkins said, “The funding announced today will act as a shot in the arm for economic growth and development by building on so many of Erie’s existing resources. We will see funding to expand Liberty Park, development of new industrial facilities, and expansion and upgrades for many facilities and cultural attractions. All the investments help us attract new businesses, residents and visitors to the area. We appreciate Governor Tom Wolf’s assistance in helping bring this money to Erie.” The lawmakers Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $250,000 in Lake Erie coastal grants awarded

(Dec 17, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 17 – Grant funding of $252,717 from the state Department of Environmental Protection will support efforts to protect and preserve Lake Erie’s coastal zone region and fund related projects, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants will fund technical support and assistance for ongoing efforts to manage and protect the Lake Erie watershed; testing and analysis of algae-based toxins; rehabilitation of the Lakeside Park boat launch ramp, resources for an educational camp, and other projects. “One of the unique aspects of Erie County is that more than three-quarters of our residents live within a coastal zone,” said Harkins, who is a member of the Great Lakes Commission. “Having that concentrated population stresses the ecosystem and creates problems such as nonpoint source pollution, water quality issues and shoreline erosion that threaten the natural environment. This funding is going to help us stave off these threats. “Our district is also receiving nearly $50,000 to restore the Lakeside Park boat launch ramp infrastructure and restore it to its original condition for residents to ensure maximum safe use for residents.” Merski said: “Those of us who grew up along Lake Erie’s shores understand the special joys – and many economic benefits – the lake provides. But Read more

 

Rep. Pat Harkins' Pandemic Help Sheet

(Dec 17, 2020)

Rep. Pat Harkins' Pandemic Help Sheet Read more

 

Erie officials debut new firetruck, thank Harkins, Merski for securing funding

(Dec 16, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 16 – At a news conference this morning, Erie city and fire officials unveiled the latest addition to the Erie Fire Department’s fleet: a new engine acquired with state funding secured by Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said securing $300,000 toward the purchase of a 2020 Pierce pumper truck – the second truck they helped the department obtain in two years – provided a chance to give something back to the city’s frontline heroes. “Erie firefighters are asked to do so much with such limited resources, and they always rise to the challenge,” said Harkins. “They have worked hard through the years to maintain an aging fleet of vehicles. “Despite those efforts, the older trucks and equipment begin requiring more frequent and costly repairs, to the point where maintenance is no longer cost-effective. Securing funding for fleet upgrades like this one and last year’s new rig for the crews of Engine 6 means less down time for crews, more cost-efficient operations and, ultimately, savings for Erie’s taxpayers.” Merski said: “ As a former Erie city council member, I know there is a need to replace our aging fire apparatus, with many engines at the end of their recommended time as frontline vehicles. Replacing a fire engine is a very expensive line item for the city budget, and financial challenges Read more

 

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: Feb. 16 Update
Feb 02, 2021

Merski, Harkins assume new leadership roles in Northwest Delegation
Jan 28, 2021

Merski, Harkins laud Erie blogger honored by historical society
Jan 27, 2021

Troubleshooting PUA claims: How to reopen/reactivate a PUA claim
Jan 27, 2021

Merski, Harkins co-hosting COVID-19 Virtual Vaccine Town Hall Jan. 25
Jan 21, 2021

Merski, Harkins: More than $41.4 million to Erie schools to support continued learning during pandemic
Jan 15, 2021

Harkins announces committee appointments for 2021-22 legislative session
Jan 12, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Erie senior centers to benefit from nearly $50,000 in grants
Jan 07, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $30,000 awarded to Mercyhurst University as part of statewide campaign to combat campus sexual assault
Jan 06, 2021

Harkins sworn in to eighth term representing state’s 1st Legislative District
Jan 05, 2021

Harkins, Merski: More than $162k to launch Erie watershed steward program
Dec 30, 2020

Merski, Harkins: $23 million to fund multiple Erie revitalization projects
Dec 23, 2020

Harkins, Merski: More than $250,000 in Lake Erie coastal grants awarded
Dec 17, 2020

Rep. Pat Harkins' Pandemic Help Sheet
Dec 17, 2020

Erie officials debut new firetruck, thank Harkins, Merski for securing funding
Dec 16, 2020