Harkins, Merski: Nearly $3 million in tax credits awarded to boost investments in affordable housing, community revitalization, job training

(Nov 09, 2021)

ERIE, Nov. 9 – Tax credits totaling more than $2.8 million under the state Neighborhood Assistance Program will leverage investments in projects to improve life for Erie residents, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding will leverage investments in a broad range of projects. “The best investments are the ones that generate greater opportunities for people," Merski said. “By fueling projects to renew distressed areas, educate youth, address hunger insecurity and boost job training, these tax credits promise to expand the resources residents need to thrive.” Harkins said, “This tax credit funding will provide an infusion of lifeblood into our communities, which are still working to recover from the pandemic. From removing blight and revitalizing neighborhoods to improving literacy and increasing affordable housing, they are going to create new opportunities for residents and small businesses to build back and flourish.” The lawmakers say the tax credits include: Erie Playhouse – $26,125. ServErie – $5,500. SSJ Neighborhood Network – $27,500 and $200,000. YMCA of Greater Erie – $12,375. Erie County Historical Society – $5,500. Erie Center for Arts and Technology – $55,000 and $132,500. Gannon Read more

 

Harkins stands with governor on critical worker safety issue

(Nov 04, 2021)

ERIE, Nov. 4 – State Rep. Pat Harkins joined Gov. Tom Wolf in Erie today as the lawmakers pushed for passage of Harkins’ legislation to repair a critical safety issue that leaves Pennsylvania’s public employees unprotected in the workplace. Harkins, D-Erie, said he is encouraged by renewed attention generated by the governor’s recent executive order, which urges lawmakers to pass H.B. 1976 . Also known as the Jake Schwab Worker Safety Bill, the legislation would give Pennsylvania’s public employees the same protections enjoyed by the state’s private-sector workers. “Pennsylvania’s public employees – police, firefighters, teachers, corrections officers, transportation workers and others – are every bit as committed to doing their jobs and providing for their families as the state’s private-sector employees,” Harkins said. “But there is one glaring difference: unlike private-sector employees, who are protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the state’s public employees are left to fend for themselves because there are no regulations in place to keep them safe. “That lack of protection killed public transit mechanic Jake Schwab just days before Thanksgiving 2014, when the equipment he needed was unavailable at his job site, leading to a fatal explosion. It was seven years ago that Jake’s death spurred me to put this legislation in Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $200,000 low-interest loan to help fund unique Bayfront dining venue

(Nov 03, 2021)

ERIE, Nov. 3 – A low-interest loan of $200,000 will help fund a project to bring a unique outdoor dining and entertainment venue to the Erie Bayfront, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding to Scott’s Bayfront Hotel LLC will finance construction and renovations for Oliver’s Beer Garden that will help visitors capture stunning waterfront views. “The loan to Scott’s Bayfront Hotel LLC is especially exciting because it is helping to fund a project that builds on the Bayfront’s natural beauty in a way that draws visitors, increases commercial activity and attracts additional investment in our region,” Harkins said. “Scott’s Bayfront will also retain 55 permanent full-time jobs as a result of the project.” Merski said, “Today’s funding to Scott’s Bayfront will help move this special dining and entertainment project one step further by funding renovations that include site development, paving, landscaping, outdoor pavilion, fire pits, tiling, plumbing and electrical work. I can’t wait to see this area take on new life as the renovations take shape.” The total project cost is $803,647. The loan was approved through the Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission and is a seven-year, $200,000 loan at a 1.5% interest rate. The loan was approved Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $12,000 grant to bring fresh food, focus on agriculture to pre-k students

(Oct 26, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 26 – State grant funding of $11,876 will bring Erie pre-k students greater access to fresh foods and a chance to learn about the importance of agriculture, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to Early Connections Inc. – awarded by the state Department of Agriculture under the Pennsylvania Farm Bill’s Farm to School Program – can help the center shape healthy habits and stimulate interest in farming. “With so much cleverly advertised junk food around, it’s critical to make kids understand that there are healthy alternatives out there and that they have the power to make smarter choices,” Harkins said. “By providing access to local foods from Edinboro Farmers Market, this funding is going to help expose kids to those more nutritious options.” Merski said, “In addition to expanding access to nutritious foods, the grant to Early Connections will fund agriculturally focused children’s books and class programs and a field trip to a local maple syrup producer. By stimulating kids’ curiosity and teaching them that it can be empowering to grow their own food, we’re helping ensure a fresh crop of young minds dedicated to keeping urban agriculture thriving here in the region.” The grant is part of a package of funding to 47 projects designed to improve access to healthy local foods Read more

 

Harkins applauds governor’s executive order urging passage of worker safety bill

(Oct 21, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 21 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement today in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive action urging passage of H.B. 1976 , Harkins’ workplace safety legislation, also known as the Jake Schwab Worker Safety Bill. “I was encouraged to hear Governor Wolf call on lawmakers to pass my worker safety bill and eliminate a gaping hole in protections for our state’s public workers. The men and women who make up Pennsylvania’s workforce give it their all – whether they work for public or private employers – to support their families and keep our communities running. “But shockingly, although they do the same work, only some of them are safe from workplace dangers. That’s because basic safety protections exist for private-sector workers only. Public employees – from police to corrections officers to public transit workers – are left to fend for themselves. “My bill is named for Jake Schwab, a public transit mechanic who died just days before Thanksgiving because the equipment he needed was unavailable at his job site, leading to an explosion. Unlike mechanics in private garages, Jake was not protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and Pennsylvania has no state plan imposing comparable standards to protect public employees. “It’s my hope that with renewed attention focused on this critically needed piece of legislation, the families Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $700,000 in tax credits awarded to expand affordable rental housing

(Oct 14, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 14 – Erie residents will soon have greater options for affordable rental housing, thanks to nearly $700,000 in federal tax credit funding awarded today, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to GMA Development Group, LLC, for Royal Homes development sites in Erie will fund construction of 26 units. “Lack of affordable housing is a persistent problem for Pennsylvania’s low-income households, and too many families already spend more than half of their income on rent, leaving little left over for groceries, prescriptions and other necessities,” Harkins said. “Securing this funding will help expand housing options that give families livable options. It won’t solve our housing shortage overnight, but it’s a good start.” Merski said, “A stable, permanent place to call home is such an important foundation in life, but not all families have easy access to safe, affordable housing. The tax credits awarded today should help boost the supply of affordable rental units for Erie families.” The Low Income Housing Tax Credits are administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and were approved by the agency’s board. The funding is part of a package of $43.6 million awarded statewide for the construction of 1,974 affordable multifamily rental units. More information on the awards is Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $585,000 awarded to support pregnant, postpartum women in recovery

(Oct 05, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 5 – Pregnant and postpartum women recovering from substance use disorder will have greater support as they transition from treatment to the Erie community, thanks to $583,153 in funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to Allegheny Health Network will help the organization provide pregnancy support services and make referrals for outpatient treatment. “Getting through recovery can be difficult enough, but for pregnant or postpartum women, the added health and financial challenges can be overwhelming,” Harkins said. “Securing this funding will provide these Erie residents the added support and outpatient treatment they need to make a healthy return to productive lives.” Merski said, “After inpatient recovery treatment ends, expectant or postpartum moms need ongoing support to make a successful transition to the community. The funding announced today will help ensure services are in place to help them navigate the health-related, logistical and financial issues that may arise as they embrace the responsibilities of parenthood.” The funding – administered by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs – is part of a package of more than $12 million in grants announced today to help Pennsylvanians in recovery. That funding is part of a larger package of $55 million in federal money awarded to Pennsylvania Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: LECOM K-9 unit benefits entire community

(Sep 10, 2021)

ERIE, Sept. 10 – With classes back in session at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, LECOM students and staff are benefiting from a new K-9 unit supported in part by a $50,000 state grant, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the grant will enhance security for the campus and the entire region. “Like other campuses that host year-round speaking events and community activities, LECOM will benefit greatly from the added security of a K-9 unit,” Merski said. “Police dogs do an incredible job of rooting out suspicious packages containing weapons or explosives, which is important as larger gatherings resume on campus and in the community. “The campus and the entire surrounding community are going to be safer thanks to the new addition to the force.” Harkins said: “The K-9 unit is a great addition to LECOM’s security because it adds an important layer of protection for students and staff and enhances peace of mind for everyone – including the officers responsible for campus safety. It’s great to know that the campus is joining so many others across the country that have added police dogs to their security arsenal.” The lawmakers said LECOM is assisting with startup costs for the program, which total about $80,000. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $300,000 awarded to continue Erie opioid education, prevention programs

(Sep 08, 2021)

ERIE, Sept. 8 – Grant funding of $299,733 from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will continue an Erie pilot program to educate students about opioid dangers and help families keep kids safe, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to Family Services of NW PA will support the Erie Opioid Misuse Prevention Project – one of five pilot programs statewide that are providing evidence-based strategies to reduce risk factors that lead kids to substance abuse and other problems. “The statewide Opioid Disaster Declaration recently expired after the Republican-controlled legislature failed to extend it,” Harkins said. “At the same time, the numbers are showing that opioid overdoses spiked during the pandemic. It’s a bad combination and highlights why it is so critical to keep youth education and prevention programs going.” Merski said, “The pilot programs are evidence-based and have been working to make sure kids understand the risks of opioid use and help families develop strategies to keep kids safe and steer them away from drug use and other risky behaviors. Thanks to this funding, those programs are going to continue for another year.” The lawmakers said Erie’s program, like the other pilots, is part of the Opioid Misuse Prevention Project and operates through partnerships among counties, school Read more

 

Harkins reappointed Democratic chair of House Gaming Oversight Committee

(Aug 19, 2021)

ERIE, Aug. 19 – State Rep. Pat Harkins announced today that he has been reappointed Democratic chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee. Although he is not new to the role – Harkins served as Democratic chair of the committee during the 2017-18 legislative session – he said he is especially excited to be returning now, at a time when state gaming revenue is setting new records. “Pennsylvania’s gaming industry is shattering records,” said Harkins. “This week, the state Gaming Control Board reported that combined total revenue for July from all forms of gaming topped $423 million – the highest monthly revenue recorded for regulated games. That’s on top of last month’s news that gaming brought a record $3.9 billion over the past fiscal year.” Harkins said casino revenue showed especially strong gains from last summer to this one, with Erie’s own Presque Isle Downs and Casino reporting a 40% increase. “It’s great to see casinos rebounding after being shuttered by the pandemic, especially because gaming funds so many critical areas, from property tax relief to seniors’ programs to local government services and contributions to the state’s General Fund,” Harkins said. “But there are issues – including protecting those vulnerable to the risk of addiction and rooting out competition from illegal, unlicensed machines – that require attention. Read more

 

Harkins mourns loss of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

(Aug 05, 2021)

ERIE, Aug. 5 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to news that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has died: “I was shocked and saddened to learn that labor leader Richard Trumka has died. “I attended a labor event with Richard in Pittsburgh two years ago, and I was taken by the depth of his insight, the passion of his commitment to workers’ rights issues, and how gracious he was with his time. “Richard was truly old-school labor, and he worked tirelessly to make life better for Pennsylvania workers – both union and non-union alike. “My heartfelt condolences go out to Richard’s family. The commonwealth has lost a great asset to labor and a true champion of workers’ rights.” Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $350,000 in grant funding will bring fresh produce to Erie elementary schools

(Aug 04, 2021)

ERIE, Aug. 4 – Erie elementary school students will see more fresh fruits and vegetables on the menu, thanks to $354,705 in grant funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said funding under the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program includes $311,870 to elementary schools in the Erie City School District and $42,835 to the Iroquois School District. “Decades of studies show a direct link between nutrition and kids’ ability to focus and learn, and it’s something I have seen firsthand during my years in the classroom,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to help ensure Erie’s grade-schoolers have access to those dietary benefits, regardless of household income." Harkins said, “I’m thrilled we were able to secure this funding. In addition to staving off hunger and providing the kinds of healthy menu options kids need to do well in class, fresh fruits and vegetables are key to boosting the immune system and fighting disease. That’s more important than ever this year.” The lawmakers said the grants are part of a package of more than $7 million awarded to 288 elementary schools statewide under the FFVP. Funding priority was given to the schools with the highest rates of students eligible for free and Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $500,000 awarded to fight blight, boost urban renewal in Erie

(Aug 02, 2021)

Erie, Aug. 2 – State grant funding of $482,251 will boost projects to clear blight and revitalize Erie’s urban landscape, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said three grants awarded by the state Department of Community and Economic Development under the Keystone Communities Program are: $229,251 to the City of Erie for the West Eighth Street Anchor Buildings Project. $150,000 to the Erie Redevelopment Authority for the City of Erie Blight Reduction Project. $103,000 to the PA Route 6 Alliance for the PA Route 6 Façade Program in the Great Lakes. “The grant to the city for the West Eighth Street Anchor Buildings Project is extremely exciting because it will build on investments and projects already underway to renew and regrow Erie’s commercial corridor,” Merski said. “With the additional funding, the city can continue efforts to anchor revitalization of this key section of the city with new residential and commercial spaces that draw families, businesses and jobs.” Harkins said the funding to the redevelopment authority will allow it to continue battling blight. “The redevelopment authority has been working hard to acquire abandoned and distressed properties and demolish or renovate them,” Harkins said. “While those efforts are Read more

 

Erie Delegation to tour LECOM Tuesday

(Aug 02, 2021)

ERIE, Aug. 2 – State Representatives Pat Harkins, Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro are welcoming members of the House Democratic Policy Committee for a tour of Lake Erie College of Medicine, the nation’s most applied-to medical school. The tour will begin at 1 p.m. Tuesday, August 3 at 1858 W. Grandview, Blvd., Erie. The media is encouraged to attend and can submit inquiries to policy@pahouse.net . A roundtable discussion will follow the facility tour, aimed at learning more about LECOM’s impact on education, medical care and Erie’s economy. Information about this and other House Democratic Policy Committee hearings can be found at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more

 

Harkins, Merski announce nearly $103,000 in fire, EMS grants

(Jun 30, 2021)

ERIE, June 30 -- State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced that fire and rescue crews in their districts will be receiving $102,670 in state grant funding for equipment, training and other needed resources. “Our fire and EMS companies really took a hit during the pandemic,” Harkins said. “In addition to dealing with new risks and logistical issues, departments lost critical fundraising income because of shutdowns and restrictions. This grant funding should ease the burden a bit for those who work so hard at the front lines.” Merski said: “Departments have been dealing with recruitment, retention and funding issues for years, but the past year added a whole new layer of challenges. This funding won’t solve the longstanding issues, but it will at least allow departments to upgrade aging equipment, perform building repairs and ensure crews have the ongoing training and other resources they need to stay safe on the job.” The lawmakers said the funding includes : Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – fire company, $12,767. City of Erie Fire Department – fire company, $15,000. EmergyCare Inc. – EMS, $8,993. Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – fire company, $11,698. Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – EMS, $8,993. Perry Hi-Way Hose Co. – fire company, $15,000. Perry Hi-Way Hose Co. – EMS, $8,993. Read more

 

Harkins votes for new budget, citing strong investments in education

(Jun 25, 2021)

HARRISBURG, June 25 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement after the House and Senate Friday evening passed the new Pennsylvania budget: “I voted to support the budget because it holds the line on taxes and makes critical investments in education, including an increase of $300 million in funding for basic education. From that funding, the budget plan will allocate $100 million to the state’s most grossly underfunded school districts, including the Erie City School District. That investment is long overdue, and it should go a long way in helping to level the playing field and help our students compete for good, family-sustaining jobs. “I am also encouraged by the budget’s investment of nearly $5 million to help support the startup, growth and operation of the new Erie Community College as it attracts students and jobs to the area and builds our workforce. “Finally, the budget allocates $450 million in rent and utility assistance and provides funding to bolster public transit – a vitally important resource for working families. “Despite these investments, the budget contains a number of missed opportunities. For years, residents have been carrying the burden of property taxes without seeing the benefits, and I believe the spending plan missed an important opportunity to provide that relief for taxpayers. Read more

 

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: Nearly $3 million in tax credits awarded to boost investments in affordable housing, community revitalization, job training
Nov 09, 2021

Harkins stands with governor on critical worker safety issue
Nov 04, 2021

Harkins, Merski: $200,000 low-interest loan to help fund unique Bayfront dining venue
Nov 03, 2021

Harkins, Merski: $12,000 grant to bring fresh food, focus on agriculture to pre-k students
Oct 26, 2021

Harkins applauds governor’s executive order urging passage of worker safety bill
Oct 21, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $700,000 in tax credits awarded to expand affordable rental housing
Oct 14, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $585,000 awarded to support pregnant, postpartum women in recovery
Oct 05, 2021

Merski, Harkins: LECOM K-9 unit benefits entire community
Sep 10, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $300,000 awarded to continue Erie opioid education, prevention programs
Sep 08, 2021

Harkins reappointed Democratic chair of House Gaming Oversight Committee
Aug 19, 2021

Harkins mourns loss of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Aug 05, 2021

Merski, Harkins: More than $350,000 in grant funding will bring fresh produce to Erie elementary schools
Aug 04, 2021

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $500,000 awarded to fight blight, boost urban renewal in Erie
Aug 02, 2021

Erie Delegation to tour LECOM Tuesday
Aug 02, 2021

Harkins, Merski announce nearly $103,000 in fire, EMS grants
Jun 30, 2021

Harkins votes for new budget, citing strong investments in education
Jun 25, 2021

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