Harkins bill to rid Public School Code of derogatory language passes House unanimously

(May 15, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 15 – The House today unanimously passed a bill that would remove outdated, derogatory language from the state’s Public School Code, according to the bill’s author, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie. “Our laws are a reflection of our values as a society,” Harkins said. “Pennsylvania has made measurable progress in updating our classrooms and educational programs to be inclusive of students with mental health issues and disabilities. At the same time, however, derogatory terms such as ‘defective’ and ‘handicapped’ remain in the Public School Code. “Language is powerful: Studies have shown that the use of certain words and phrases maintains the stigma surrounding mental health issues and disabilities. It is time to update our laws so that they keep pace with our advancement toward a more inclusive society. I’m extremely pleased that the House unanimously passed this legislation. Removing such language from our laws would go a long way toward eliminating it from speech, social interactions and perceptions.” The bill (H.B. 1196) now heads to the state Senate for consideration and a vote. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $65,000 in matching grants to help Erie County businesses grow greener

(May 08, 2019)

HARRISBURG, May 8 – State matching grants totaling $65,335 will help 12 small businesses in Erie adopt greener practices, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins, and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. The funding is provided by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Small Business Advantage Grant program. “I’m extremely pleased that we were able to help these seven small businesses in our district procure funding,” Harkins said. “Taking steps to be more responsible stewards of the environment helps recover natural resources and also makes economic sense for businesses, because energy-efficient practices are more cost-efficient in the long run.” Merski agreed, noting, “Greener practices translate to less waste, a healthier work environment, and greater efficiency for these companies, which helps their bottom line. It’s an investment that pays off for everyone.” Bizzarro added that businesses that work to protect the environment set a good example for others. “Small businesses can be a positive force for change by inspiring other companies and private citizens,” Bizzarro said. “By ‘going green,’ small-business owners encourage others in the community to do the same. It sends a great message.” The grant recipients, projects and amounts, by legislative district, are as follows: First Legislative District: Two Penny Corporation – HVAC – $7,000 Read more

 

Harkins announces grant of more than $14,800 to Erie Fire Department

(May 06, 2019)

ERIE, May 6 – The Erie Fire Department is receiving a grant of $14,811, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced. The grant is provided by Pennsylvania's Fire Company and Emergency Medical Service Grant Program, which is administered by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner. “Our firefighters never hesitate to be on the front lines, regardless of the emergency, and even while having to work under tight budget constraints,” Harkins said. “These first responders deserve the best for their courageous service, and this funding will help address some of the financial challenges they are facing.” Harkins added that in addition to funding equipment and training, the money can be used for repairing, building or renovating facilities and for repaying debt related to equipment purchases or facility building and maintenance. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $200,000 state grant to fund Erie regional job-training program

(May 03, 2019)

ERIE, May 3 – A $200,000 state grant will provide on-the-job training to Erie job seekers while strengthening the talent pool for regional manufacturers, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The funding to Erie Regional Manufacturer Partnership will allow it to partner with workforce development boards to create WorkAdvance – a short-term manufacturing training program that will provide job-training skills tailored to workforce needs as well as placement assistance for the Erie County region. “As the manufacturing industry continues to advance and incorporate new technologies such as robotics, it’s essential that our region has qualified workers who can step into these high-tech jobs,” Bizzarro said. “Programs such as WorkAdvance are extremely helpful because they address that potential manufacturing workforce gap and help ensure that our regional industries remain competitive.” Harkins agreed, noting, “While we are always looking for new business opportunities, it’s also essential to make sure we are doing all we can to strengthen our current industries. The funding for this program will help ensure that our local manufacturers have the pool of skilled workers they need to keep pace and remain competitive in today’s business world.” Merski added that the program will fund a range of services for area job seekers. “The program will be a terrific Read more

 

Harkins, Merski add their names to brief supporting AG’s suit against UPMC

(Apr 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 25 – Vowing to fight for patient health care choice, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, have signed onto a legal brief filed yesterday by the House Democratic Caucus in support of the state attorney general’s lawsuit against UPMC. That suit is seeking to modify and indefinitely extend the UPMC-Highmark Health consent decrees that are set to expire on June 30. “Expiration of these consent decrees strikes at the very heart of patient choice and patient care,” Harkins said. “By refusing to extend the decrees, UPMC is effectively cutting off patients’ access to the providers with whom they have developed trusted, long-term relationships. I’m hearing from residents – including those who work at public safety jobs putting their lives on the line for us – who are deeply distressed about the thought of losing this access. We can’t stand by and allow that to happen.” Merski agreed, noting that members of the Erie community are particularly impacted. “So many in our community depend on these relationships that they’ve developed over the years with their chosen providers,” Merski said. “It’s reasonable to expect UPMC to abide by its responsibilities as a charitable organization. Unfortunately, UPMC does not appear to see it as an obligation, despite the fact that it is funded by patients’ taxpayer dollars.” Attorney General Josh Read more

 

Harkins takes ‘Keystone Worker Protection Pledge’ on Capitol steps

(Apr 09, 2019)

HARRISBURG, April 9 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, pledged to protect Pennsylvania’s workers as he joined union leaders, workers’ right advocates and fellow legislators for a rally today on the front steps of the state Capitol. Harkins and fellow legislators took the “Keystone Worker Protection Pledge,” affirming their commitment to protecting workers’ safety and their support for legislation that promotes workers’ rights – including the right to receive a living wage and the right to join and participate in unions. “I’m encouraged to see so many of my fellow legislators turn out today,” said Harkins, who is Democratic chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee. “We can’t afford to be silent on the issue of worker protections, and we can’t remain neutral when it comes to policies that help Pennsylvania’s working families. Our commonwealth is only as strong as the workers whose efforts build our economy and the working families who sustain it. When they succeed, we all succeed. “As part of my pledge today, I also want to reaffirm my commitment to working for the passage of Jake’s Law – my bill that would extend workplace protections under the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act to the state’s public employees. Currently, those standards apply only to private-sector and federal workers. My bill is named for Jake Schwab Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $1 million will fund new housing for Erie County residents with disabilities

(Mar 27, 2019)

ERIE, March 27 – New housing is on the horizon for Erie County individuals with disabilities, thanks to $1 million in funding from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The money will be used to fund the EHCA New Community Homes project, which will construct group homes for Erie County residents with physical and intellectual disabilities. “The many individuals in our area who live with disabilities are integral members of our Erie community,” Bizzarro said. “They’re our friends, our families, and our coworkers, and they have remarkable achievements to contribute. The funding announced today will ensure that they have housing that provides them with both the independence and support they need to thrive.” “I’m very pleased about this funding,” Harkins said. “The money will allow for construction of group homes that provide Erie County’s individuals with disabilities a true home environment while also providing the necessary medical, social and emotional support they need to live with dignity.” Merski said: “The measure of a community is how it provides for all residents of all abilities. The funding announced today will make sure our community is an inclusive one that offers the benefits of a warm, supportive living environment for all residents.” RCAP is administered by the Office of the Read more

 

House unanimously adopts Harkins resolution supporting crime victims’ rights

(Mar 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 26 – A resolution supporting crime victims and celebrating progress made on behalf of victims’ rights won unanimous House support today, according to the author, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie. House Resolution 137 – designating April 7 -13 as “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week” in Pennsylvania – also aims to raise awareness about the importance of victims’ rights and services. “Each year, several million Americans fall victim to crimes, and anyone can become a target,” said Harkins, who is co-chairman of the Law Enforcement Caucus. “In 2017 alone, approximately 5.6 million Americans were victimized by violent crime. While our national attention is often focused on the rights of criminal defendants, it’s important to remember that crime victims and their families are equally deserving of justice, rights, resources, restoration and rehabilitation.” Harkins noted that each year, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime encourages communities across the country to observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. “It’s a great opportunity for criminal justice officials, service providers and concerned citizens to join forces in celebrating the hard-won progress we’ve made thus far,” he said. Read more

 

House unanimously passes Harkins online career resource center bill

(Mar 20, 2019)

HARRISBURG, March 20 – Students navigating career choices would enjoy a simpler, more streamlined and more informative process under a bill the House passed unanimously today, according to the author, state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie. Harkins’ H.B. 393 – part of a bipartisan package of career training and technical education bills – would create an online career resource center that would consolidate information about career pathways and CTE resources into a single online clearinghouse. “Students contemplating career choices face weighty, sometimes confusing decisions,” Harkins said. “The commonwealth provides a wealth of resources on career pathways and CTE opportunities, but there’s currently no central location where students and those counseling them can go to easily access all of this information. Consolidating these resources in one online location would make the process less daunting and time-consuming and would ensure that students have all available resources at their fingertips when making these major life decisions.” Harkins’ bill would require the state Department of Education and the Department of Labor and Industry to establish the clearinghouse in consultation with the Department of Agriculture. The data would be updated annually and would include information on: postsecondary and career pathways and options. career and technical education and workforce opportunities. data Read more

 

Harkins: $300,000 state grant will fund rehab of Renaissance Centre elevator system

(Feb 26, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – A $300,000 grant from the Keystone Communities program will fund the renovation of a three-unit elevator system in Erie’s historic Renaissance Centre, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced today. “This grant is a terrific investment in one of Erie’s most important landmarks,” Harkins said. “The Renaissance Centre is more than just an important anchor for businesses in the heart of our commercial district. As the city’s sole skyscraper and tallest multi-story building, it’s a symbol of Erie’s strength and economic progress through the years. It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places. “Like any building, however, it requires upkeep and maintenance – particularly where safety is a concern. This grant will fund the necessary renovations to the building’s elevator system to ensure that the many workers and visitors who use the elevators on a daily basis have a safe and smooth ride.” The Keystone Communities program is administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development. The program is designed to support local initiatives that grow and stabilize neighborhoods and communities, encourage the creation of partnerships between the public and private sectors in the community and enhance the overall quality of life for residents. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $83,000 will fund paid summer internships for local students

(Feb 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 25 – Erie County students will have a chance to benefit from paid summer internships thanks to a grant of $83,122 from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. The funding awarded to NWPA Job Connect – the northwest region’s local workforce development board – will give area students and job seekers between ages 16 and 24 the opportunity to earn a minimum of $10.35 per hour as they participate in summer internships with local public- and private-sector employers. “Summer internships are an ideal way for students to get a feel for what it’s like to work in a real job setting as they start to explore careers,” Bizzarro said. “By contributing in a real-life work environment, students develop confidence in their abilities while at the same time getting a sense of how their interests and skills overlap with real-world opportunities.” Harkins agreed, noting, “Internships of all kinds are incredibly valuable because they give students a chance to start building real-world, employable skills. At the same time, these programs help local employers tailor workforce training to their emerging needs. So we’re opening up career possibilities for students while strengthening the employment pool for our local businesses." Merski added that he was especially excited by the program because of the valuable Read more

 

House Democrats sponsoring bills to improve access to career & tech ed programs in Pa.

(Feb 19, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, joined members of the Pa. House legislature in support of a bipartisan package of legislation that would enhance the quality of career and technical education programs throughout Pennsylvania. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $500,000 state grant will bring comprehensive computer science curriculum to Erie City School District

(Feb 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – A $500,000 state grant will allow the Erie City School District to offer students a greatly enriched curriculum in computer science, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The grant will help the school district provide the foundation for a kindergarten through grade 12 computer science college and career pathway for more than 11,000 students throughout 16 schools. “This grant is extremely exciting,” Merski said. “In the past, students in the Erie City district have had only limited access to computer science and STEM coursework. Fortunately, with the help of this grant, that’s about to change. The funding announced today is going to provide greatly expanded opportunities – including computer technology and programming – that were previously out of reach. The grant is going to provide students access to career opportunities they didn't even know existed. It’s going to bring them up to par with their counterparts in wealthier districts.” Harkins agreed, noting, “The grant is going to allow the district to offer courses that engage students’ minds, with activities like coding, programming, robotics, gaming, networking and cyber security. It’s also going to provide for resources such as new and renovated computer labs and internship opportunities – the kinds of opportunities that provide meaningful college and career pathways.” Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $460,000 in grants will boost industries, apprenticeship programs in Northwest Pa.

(Feb 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – More than $460,000 in state grants will expand job training opportunities for Erie County residents, while helping regional industries become more competitive, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. Five grants – all part of the PAsmart initiative – will connect students and other area job seekers with regional employers in the advanced manufacturing, plastics, and building and construction industries. Apprenticeships are a major focus of the initiative. “Apprenticeships in high-tech industries are especially exciting because they introduce students to jobs in a real-world setting that teaches real-world skills,” Bizzarro said. “For example, students doing a pre-apprenticeship program in the plastics industry will get both an overview of the industry and specific training on working with injection-molding machinery.” “Programs like these are incredibly valuable because they offer young Pennsylvanians an opportunity to earn as they learn,” Merski added. “Students gain skills and confidence while working under the guidance and encouragement of a mentor, which is the ideal setting for developing career and technical skills.” Harkins agreed, saying, “There’s no replacement for on-the-job training, particularly where high-skill careers are involved. Registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs are a win-win for everyone Read more

 

Harkins: Governor’s budget a bold approach

(Feb 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 5 – Reacting to Gov. Tom Wolf’s address this morning on his proposed 2019-20 budget, state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie, said: “I was encouraged by the governor’s emphasis today on education and workforce development. In many ways, I think his address reflects a bold approach. A number of his proposals include measures that I’ve been pushing for during my 12 years in the House and in my work as Democratic chairman of the House Labor Committee. “A number of the governor’s proposals can make a positive impact, not only in the areas of education and labor, but in addressing the everyday problems facing Pennsylvania’s working families.” Read more

 

Harkins appointed Democratic chairman of House Labor & Industry Committee

(Jan 28, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 28 – As he begins serving his seventh term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, state Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie, will take on new duties as Democratic chairman of the House Labor & Industry Committee. Harkins, a longtime advocate for workers’ rights, said the appointment will allow him to assume a greater role in shaping legislation to protect Pennsylvania’s workers. “I’m excited because this position will allow me to be an even stronger voice for workers’ rights, both in Erie and throughout the commonwealth,” Harkins said. “Our state’s workers are the backbone of our economy. It’s critical that we do all we can to ensure that they enjoy fair pay, proper benefits and a safe workplace, especially as there are powerful interests on the other side that would try to subvert those interests.” Harkins has been active in pushing for legislation that would provide on-the-job safety protections to public employees by establishing OSHA-equivalent safety rules for public employers, including the commonwealth, political subdivisions, public schools, transit systems and nonprofit organizations currently exempt from OSHA standards. The Labor & Industry Committee reviews legislation on issues such as the state’s minimum wage, unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, building and construction codes, and workplace health and safety. The committee is Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $70,000 in grants will bring computer science to the classroom

(Jan 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 17 – The Erie County school curriculum is about to become broader and more tech-oriented thanks to $70,000 in grants that will introduce computer science into the classroom, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The Erie City School District and the Erie Rise Leadership Academy Charter School will each receive a $35,000 grant to fund the training and equipment needed to ready teachers and students to embrace the new, tech-oriented classes. “As a former educator, I’m really excited to hear about these grants,” Merski said. “Although many people automatically think of coding when they hear the phrase ‘computer science,’ it’s actually a subject that goes far beyond programming. With studies and exercises that teach kids how to think critically, it’s a discipline that introduces concepts of logic, problem solving and creativity – lessons for which kids of all ages are ready.” Harkins agreed, noting, “The skills computer science teaches cut across so many different fields. CS teaches students how to attack problems in a computational way, by breaking them down into smaller parts, and it helps older students become comfortable working with large amounts of data. It also gives them a chance to create technology, not just use it. It readies them for the modern workforce.” Merski noted that the grants are targeted at schools with little or no Read more

 

Harkins elected secretary of Northwest Delegation

(Jan 16, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 16 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, will continue his leadership role in the House Democrats’ Northwest Delegation after being elected secretary of the group today. Harkins previously served as the delegation’s treasurer. “I’m excited to continue in a leadership role with the delegation,” Harkins said. “While Pennsylvania’s working families share the same overall interests – a vibrant economy that offers good jobs, strong schools that prepare our kids for the future, affordable health care – there are specific challenges and needs that are unique to each region of our state. The delegation provides a way for us to work together as we shape a legislative agenda to meet those needs. It also provides a common, united voice for the residents of the Northwest.” Harkins added that he is looking forward to working with other leadership team members, including chairman Rep. Frank Burns, of Cambria County; vice chairman Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, of Erie County; and treasurer Rep. Bob Merski, also of Erie County. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins: Grant will help preserve region’s rich Civil War history

(Jan 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 11 – A $1,500 grant will help the Erie County Public Library permanently preserve the region’s rich Civil War history, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The library will use the Historical & Archival Records Care grant to digitize two volumes of books containing handwritten biographical sketches of Erie County Civil War veterans. “Documents like these tell the stories of our local heroes,” Bizzarro said. “The people and events they chronicle are part of the fabric that connects us as a community and gives us a common identity. It’s essential to preserve this history, and the funding announced today is going to do that for generations to come.” Harkins agreed, also noting the importance of document preservation for educational purposes. “Biographical sketches, first-hand accounts and similar documents are essential for preserving our region’s unique history and allowing us to corroborate information from other sources" he said. "Beyond that, they can provide something for students that textbooks can’t – a unique look back from a historical perspective that can make history come alive.” The grant – one of 16 approved by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission – is administered by the Pennsylvania State Archives, a bureau of the PHMC. More information about the commission – the commonwealth’s Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $157,160 grant will allow students to explore career pathways in manufacturing, health care

(Jan 10, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 10 – Students from low-income families will have a chance to explore career pathways in the manufacturing and health care industries, thanks to a $157,160 grant to a local workforce development board, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The funding to the Students in the Workplace project will offer about 400 low-income middle and high school students a real-world look at jobs in manufacturing and health care through programs such as job shadowing and career tours. “This grant is going to open doors for area students by bringing them into a real-world setting and letting them envision the possibilities,” Harkins said. “When it comes to career planning, there’s no better way to stimulate kids’ minds than to let them see and experience the real working world beyond the classroom.” Merski agreed, noting, “As essential as classroom learning is, there’s no substitute for letting kids interact with employers and employees in the field. This grant is going to provide for experiences such as job shadowing, soft-skills training and career tours, which will allow students to determine what careers truly excite them and how their own skills match up with real-world opportunities.” Harkins and Merski noted that in addition to providing students a real-world look at manufacturing and health care careers, the project aims to help area businesses and schools partner to Read more

 

Harkins bill to rid Public School Code of derogatory language passes House unanimously
May 15, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $65,000 in matching grants to help Erie County businesses grow greener
May 08, 2019

Harkins announces grant of more than $14,800 to Erie Fire Department
May 06, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $200,000 state grant to fund Erie regional job-training program
May 03, 2019

Harkins, Merski add their names to brief supporting AG’s suit against UPMC
Apr 25, 2019

Harkins takes ‘Keystone Worker Protection Pledge’ on Capitol steps
Apr 09, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $1 million will fund new housing for Erie County residents with disabilities
Mar 27, 2019

House unanimously adopts Harkins resolution supporting crime victims’ rights
Mar 26, 2019

House unanimously passes Harkins online career resource center bill
Mar 20, 2019

Harkins: $300,000 state grant will fund rehab of Renaissance Centre elevator system
Feb 26, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $83,000 will fund paid summer internships for local students
Feb 25, 2019

House Democrats sponsoring bills to improve access to career & tech ed programs in Pa.
Feb 19, 2019

Harkins, Merski: $500,000 state grant will bring comprehensive computer science curriculum to Erie City School District
Feb 11, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $460,000 in grants will boost industries, apprenticeship programs in Northwest Pa.
Feb 07, 2019

Harkins: Governor’s budget a bold approach
Feb 05, 2019

Harkins appointed Democratic chairman of House Labor & Industry Committee
Jan 28, 2019

Harkins, Merski: $70,000 in grants will bring computer science to the classroom
Jan 17, 2019

Harkins elected secretary of Northwest Delegation
Jan 16, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins: Grant will help preserve region’s rich Civil War history
Jan 11, 2019

Harkins, Merski: $157,160 grant will allow students to explore career pathways in manufacturing, health care
Jan 10, 2019