“Housing stability plays a huge role in quality of life,” Merski said. "Today’s funding will help us make inroads by expanding housing options for residents in need and helping them to become more self-sufficient." Read more
Merski said, “The Mercyhurst campus is filled with exquisite architecture, including Gothic Revival buildings dating to the school’s founding in 1926. Securing this funding will support the work needed to nominate this beautiful campus for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places." Read more
ERIE, June 6 – Residents with prior nonviolent misdemeanors seeking to reenter the job market will find helpful information at a Second Chance Event co-hosted by state Rep. Bob Merski on Thursday, June 15. The event – which will feature a discussion on pardons, expungement and the state’s Clean Slate Law – will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ryan Hall’s Waterford Room at Mercyhurst University, 501 E. 38th St. Attendees should enter on Lewis Avenue. “Pennsylvania has been a leader among the states when it comes to helping people with nonviolent convictions return to the job market,” Merski said. “Several years ago, we enacted a first-of-its-kind Clean Slate law allowing Pennsylvanians with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to have their records sealed if they make restitution and stay out of trouble for 10 years. And just yesterday, the House passed a bill that, if enacted, would update and expand the law. “Not every conviction will qualify for clean slate however, which is why it’s important for folks to understand their options. I urge anyone seeking a second chance to visit our event, which will include an in-depth discussion and question-and-answer session on pardons, expungement and the Clean State law.” Merski is hosting the event in partnership with Mercyhurst University, Northwestern Legal Services, the Erie Read more
HARRISBURG, June 6 – County pension annuitants struggling to make ends meet are a step closer to more frequent cost-of-living adjustments after the PA House today passed legislation introduced by state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said they introduced H.B. 298 – which would amend the county pension law to give boards more flexibility in setting COLAs – to help retirees feeling the effects of inflation. “Under our county pension law, when retirement boards provide a cost-of-living increase, it must be in accordance with the full consumer price index at the time of review,” Harkins said. “Although the law is well-intentioned, its rigid requirement means that our county pension boards often can’t afford to provide any adjustments at all because the index is simply too high. “Our bill would amend the law to allow boards to grant a COLA of any percentage up to, but not more than, the consumer price index. The change would help counties and benefit county retirees who under the current all-or-nothing system might not receive a COLA for several years. “We need to reward these seniors who helped build our community and keep them out of poverty. Ensuring that they receive timely cost-of-living adjustments would bring them greater retirement security and help them maintain the quality of life they deserve.” Merski said, Read more
“In Pennsylvania, 1 in 7 children face hunger, which means that they show up to class each day without the fuel they need to concentrate, retain information and learn,” Merski said. “At the same time, a large amount of food goes to waste every day in our schools. In a state with one of the nation’s strongest agricultural industries – and far too much food waste – we can turn this situation around." Read more
“My bill would allow communities to join forces in fighting blight and would bolster those efforts by providing the additional resources needed to enforce code violations.” Read more
“Motorists will have an opportunity to fill out the MV-44 application for a replacement plate, and a state trooper on site will sign off on the form if the plate qualifies," Merski said. Read more
ERIE, May 11 – State Rep. Bob Merski introduced legislation today to standardize and streamline procedures for installing broadband cable across railroad tracks. Merski, D-Erie, said he introduced H.B. 1151 – which would establish uniform procedures for applications, approvals, fees and installation of cable – to prevent administrative and logical issues that can delay getting the needed infrastructure in place. “New funding and plans being deployed by our state broadband commission are laying the foundation for better connections in Erie and statewide. But as with any infrastructure project, there are roadblocks that threaten to slow the process,” Merski said. “One of those involves administrative snarls that can arise when fiber optic cable needs to be installed across railroad rights of way. “To help us address this proactively, I have introduced legislation that would create uniform procedures for broadband companies to use when they need to install cable across tracks. Having set standards in place for issues like obtaining railroad approval, setting licensing fees and installing the cable would help save taxpayer dollars and streamline the process so there are fewer delays in delivering these essential connections.” Merski’s bill would establish an application process for broadband providers and timelines for approval of Read more
"The funding will allow us to develop new evidence-based programs, expand those that are working, and broaden community outreach and education," Merski said. Read more
“For high school students contemplating career paths, the chance to enroll in postsecondary education classes can be a great way to explore emerging interests and gain confidence in their academic and technical skills." Read more
“Recent data comparing counties statewide shows a comparatively high rate of overdose deaths for Erie,” Merski said. “Bringing these numbers down will require a full-scale effort." Read more
The lawmakers said the funding will allow the department to purchase several new vehicles and electric bicycles. Read more
“Our committee will be reviewing and selecting ‘legacy’ projects – infrastructure improvements and similar projects designed to welcome regional, national and international tourists," Merski said. “It’s an exciting assignment for what is going to be an amazing celebration." Read more
“State grant funding can be a lifeline for small businesses and nonprofits, but it's critical to know how to tap into that funding,” Merski said. “Our workshop will help participants learn about the different funding sources and how to maximize their return.” Read more
“Infrastructure plays a key role in delivering services, and breakdowns in the system not only cost taxpayers but can jeopardize public safety and health,” Merski said. “Today’s funding will play a major role in keeping our streets safer, our water cleaner and our sewer systems functioning properly.” Read more
“The lakeshore benefits our region in so many ways, from recreation to tourism to commerce, but we have yet to tap another resource with tremendous potential – the capacity for wind generation,” Merski said in the announcement. Read more
ERIE, March 14 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, has introduced legislation to develop areas of Lake Erie for wind generation, allowing the region to reap the economic benefits of this clean, renewable energy source. “The lakeshore benefits our region in so many ways, from recreation to tourism to commerce, but we have yet to tap another resource with tremendous potential – the capacity for wind generation. Plans have been approved in Ohio for a pilot project to build several wind turbines about 8 miles off the Cleveland shoreline. I believe it’s time for Pennsylvania to harness this powerful resource that would bring family-sustaining jobs and new revenue to our region. “Of course, it is critical that we remain good stewards of the land. With careful planning and design, I believe we can minimize any risk to the natural environment and cut our carbon footprint at the same time.” Merski said his H.B. 254 would establish the Lake Erie Wind Energy Development Act, to create a competitive process and award a permit lease to develop certain areas of the lakebed for wind energy generation, with a 2% royalty on gross revenue going to Erie County and several other government entities for lake- and county-related projects. The bill is in the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. Read more
HARRISBURG, March 8 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today that he has been appointed to serve on the House Professional Licensure Committee and reappointed to seats on the House Gaming Oversight, Game and Fisheries and Insurance committees. “I am excited by the chance to serve on the Professional Licensure Committee,” Merski said. “Licensing is a critical part of so many trades and professions, and the committee is the starting point for important laws like the one enacted last year to make the process run more smoothly for veterans. We will also be working with Governor Josh Shapiro on his recent executive order to make the licensing process more efficient and improve response times. “I am also looking forward to returning to the House Insurance Committee. The insurance industry is not only an important economic driver for our region, but a topic that ultimately impacts every family that calls our community home. We will be working to advance legislation and policies that promote continued good business practices here at home and throughout the state.” Merski said an important part of his work on the Game and Fisheries and Gaming Oversight committees will entail reviewing legislation to ensure that revenue from some of the state’s most popular recreational activities is invested back into programs that benefit residents. “It’s important to make sure this revenue comes back to Read more
HARRISBURG, March 7 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget address: “As a former teacher, I was encouraged to hear Gov. Shapiro talk about his commitment to fair education funding. Last year’s historic budget investment in our public schools was a great starting point, but it is going to take a sustained, large-scale investment to achieve the kind of overhaul needed after years of underfunding. “With the recent Commonwealth Court decision declaring Pennsylvania’s public school funding unconstitutional, there can be no clearer mandate: Now is the time to fix Pennsylvania’s public schools and ease the burden on local taxpayers by demanding the state finally make the commitment our students deserve. “Beyond funding for academic resources to level the playing field, other aspects of our schools need attention – many are literally falling apart. I was encouraged to hear the governor speak about the need to repair our aging school buildings. I recently introduced legislation with several colleagues that would make it possible for school districts to address hazards like poor ventilation, peeling paint, leaky roofs, structural defects and other problems posed by dilapidated facilities. “The governor also expressed his commitment to increasing funding for community revitalization, and I strongly support this aspect Read more
ERIE, March 3 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins today announced $896,000 in new grant funding to expand support for Erie businesses served by the Innovation Beehive Network – a partnership among Erie universities and the Erie County Public Library that provides specialized services to area businesses and entrepreneurs. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding – awarded by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority – includes $200,000 each to Edinboro University Foundation, Gannon University, Mercyhurst University and Penn State University and $96,000 to Erie Regional Library Foundation. “Erie’s reputation as a favorable business destination has been expanding nationally thanks in part to innovative partnerships like the Beehive Network, which provide specialized services to help young businesses grow,” Merski said. “The network already has a track record of success thanks to the talented folks involved. Today’s funding will help it continue to grow so it can attract and serve more businesses.” Harkins said, “Our library and universities have amazing resources and talented people committed to this network. I’m excited about today’s funding, which is going to enhance those resources and strengthen the collaborative as a whole. Like all startups, the young businesses served by the beehive face special financial and logistical Read more
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