Harkins, Merski to host May 5 live town hall addressing Presque Isle, Lake Erie cell service problems

(Apr 26, 2022)

ERIE, April 19 – State Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, will host a live town hall May 5 to address cell phone signal problems on and around Presque Isle and Lake Erie. The lawmakers said the event – from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Room 112 of the Tom Ridge Environmental Center – will bring together residents, business owners, local groups, county and state officials, and other stakeholders to identify the scope of the problem and lay the groundwork for developing solutions. “Our phones are lifelines to the rest of the world – connections for getting help in dangerous situations or contacting loved ones to let them know we’re OK,” Harkins said. “But for residents living near Lake Erie, tourists visiting Presque Isle and the surrounding shoreline, and businesses that rely on the lake, service has been unreliable and sometimes non-existent. Those connections are essential, and we need to get them working as soon as possible.” Merski said, “This is more than a convenience issue – it’s a public safety issue. It’s also an issue that affects the local businesses and the recreation and tourism that are so important to our area. Our live town hall will be an opportunity for residents and other stakeholders to discuss concerns and start collaborating on ways to solve the problem.” Speakers will include representatives Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $350,000 awarded for projects to improve Erie fishing opportunities

(Apr 26, 2022)

ERIE, April 26 – Erie anglers will benefit from $348,600 in funding awarded by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the following two grants were awarded through the Erie Access Improvement Grant Program, which was expanded based on legislation co-authored by Harkins and Erie colleague state Rep. Parke Wentling: $248,700 to Western PA Port Authority for Parade Street Dock Access Rehabilitation. The dock’s public access wall has failed, creating sidewalk cracking requiring the dock’s closure. The funding will allow the Port Authority and S.O.N.S. of Lake Erie Fishing Club to reconstruct the handicapped accessible fishing area by building a new sheet-pile retaining wall and concrete walkway and installing safety ladders. The facility and adjacent parking lot will be ADA-accessible. $99,900 to Penn State/Pennsylvania Sea Grant for Manchester Falls fish passage study. The Pennsylvania Sea Grant will lead a feasibility and design study to provide a framework for increasing fish passage and improved fishing opportunities upstream of Manchester Falls of Walnut Creek. The study will also address prevention of invasive species migration upstream. “The Parade Street dock along Presque Isle Bay has offered years of enjoyment as a special place for all anglers, including Read more

 

Erie Delegation: $7.75 million coming to boost regional economy

(Apr 22, 2022)

State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, D-Erie, today announced the approval of $7.75 million in funding for four economic development projects in Erie County. Read more

 

Merski: Bosnian Islamic Community Erie receiving $25,000 security grant

(Apr 14, 2022)

ERIE, April 14 – The Bosnian Islamic Community Erie Inc., has received a $25,000 grant under the 2022 Nonprofit Security Grant Program, state Rep. Bob Merski announced today. Merski said the funding will ensure the nonprofit’s members and visitors enjoy a safe environment. “No resident of our community should ever have to feel threatened, especially in places where they gather to celebrate cultural ties and plan and host educational, religious, charitable and other events,” Merski said. “This funding should help ensure that our friends and neighbors who frequent the organization have the peace of mind they deserve as they go about their community work that enriches Erie.” Merski said organizations receiving grants may use them for a variety of security measures, including: safety and security planning and training and threat-awareness and response training. equipment and technology such as metal detectors, protective lighting, surveillance equipment, emergency communications equipment, electronic locksets, deadbolts, trauma kits and theft-control devices. upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security. vulnerability and threat assessments. specialty-trained canines. any other safety- or security-related project that enhances safety or security of the nonprofit organization. The Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: New construction projects coming to region

(Apr 13, 2022)

ERIE, April 13 – Infrastructure projects coming to Erie and Pennsylvania’s northwest region will spell new opportunities for workers while shoring up public safety, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins said today after administration officials visited Erie to highlight nearly $300 million worth of projects for the region. The lawmakers said funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – which will support nearly 90 new or continuing projects – is good news on multiple levels. “Beyond building new roads and stronger bridges to connect our region, these projects will be bridges to greater economic opportunities for residents who do not have higher education degrees or specialized training,” said Merski, who is chair of the House Democratic Caucus’ Northwest Delegation. “It’s an opportunity to help families on an individual level build back their own financial independence as we strengthen the regional economy.” Harkins, who is delegation treasurer, said, “The recent Pittsburgh bridge collapse reminded everyone how vital these infrastructure projects will be – not just as a shot in the arm to our regional economy but from a public safety standpoint. It was a miracle no one was killed in that collapse, but we might not be as fortunate the next time around. As far as I’m concerned, we can’t get this work started soon Read more

 

Merski joins colleagues to promote blight-fighting bills headed for House chamber

(Apr 12, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 12 – State Rep. Bob Merski joined colleagues at the state Capitol today to highlight his bill to combat blight and similar legislation that was voted out of the House Urban Affairs Committee. Merski, D-Erie, said his H.B. 1827 – which would provide a grant program cities could use to fund code enforcement efforts – was included as an amendment to H.B. 1791 – a vacant property registration proposal – as part of a bipartisan package of bills to address blight. “Blight stalls progress – it invites crime, lowers property values and discourages new businesses, residents, and investment. But redevelopment encourages more redevelopment, and giving our municipalities more resources to ensure properties are up to code enhances entire neighborhoods and communities. “Cities were struggling to keep these code programs funded even before the pandemic, and now, with budgets stretched to the max, those efforts are foundering. My bill would give them new life by funding grants that cities could use to launch new property maintenance code enforcement programs, hire inspectors or add more staff to strengthen existing programs.” Merski said the competitive grant program would be administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, and municipalities would be required to provide matching funds. Read more

 

Merski introduces legislation to help startup businesses hurt by COVID-19

(Apr 11, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 11 – State Rep. Bob Merski has introduced legislation that would help startup businesses that were hurt by the pandemic but ineligible for previous COVID-19 assistance. Merski, D-Erie, said he drafted H.B. 2487 after becoming aware that many small businesses that started in January 2020 or later did not qualify under existing relief programs. “The pandemic was incredibly difficult for every business in our community, but for startups that had just opened their doors and were looking to build momentum, it was like being hit by a tsunami,” Merski said. “Unfortunately, many of these new businesses were ineligible under existing relief programs. My bill would address this problem by establishing a grant program for companies that began operations between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021. “Every business deserves all the help we can provide, regardless of when they opened their doors. We need to ensure these young businesses trying to establish themselves in our community aren’t swept away before they get a chance to put down roots.” Merski’s bill would create a county block grant program that would provide grants of up to $15,000 for eligible businesses. The bill has been referred to the PA House Commerce Committee. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Gannon, Penn State Behrend students’ research projects to share in $2.3 million in grant funding

(Apr 08, 2022)

ERIE, April 8 – Research projects from student teams at Gannon University and Penn State Behrend were among 36 projects selected statewide to share in grant funding totaling $2.3 million, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants – administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development under the Manufacturing PA Initiative – were awarded to projects statewide that will help advance innovation in manufacturing sectors including 3D printing, waste sustainability, autonomous navigation, and several other areas. “I work closely with Gannon University President Keith Taylor, and I am constantly amazed and inspired by the talented minds Gannon, Penn State Behrend, and our region’s other universities attract,” Harkins said. “Innovation starts right here, at the local level, with ideas from young, bright minds. With support from area businesses and other partners, those ideas grow into plans and applications, and then into real-world manufacturing advances. “We are so proud of our brilliant young students, and also thankful to the local business community partners who partner with our schools to make this kind of innovation happen.” Merski said: “I want to congratulate the Penn State Behrend and Gannon University students who were involved in these projects, which show so much initiative and innovation. Efforts Read more

 

Merski, Harkins announce more than $8.3 million to Erie child care centers

(Apr 06, 2022)

ERIE, April 6 – Federal funding of more than $8.3 million will help stabilize Erie’s hard-hit child care industry so providers can be there for the families who rely on them, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the American Rescue Plan Act funding will provide nearly 100 Erie city childcare centers with grants ranging from $4,200 to $571,000. “Reliable, affordable child care is essential for working families,” Merski said. “Without it, parents are tied to the home and drastically limited in their job options. Unfortunately, lengthy shutdowns, declining enrollments and other pandemic-related problems dealt a huge blow to most child care providers, leaving many struggling just to keep their doors open. This funding will help with critical expenses to get these businesses – so vital to working families – back on their feet.” Harkins said, “Centers can use the dollars for a wide range of resources, including recruiting and retention programs; operational costs like rent, utilities, maintenance and insurance; equipment and supplies; mental health services for children and staff; and reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses, among other costs. Stabilizing the industry is critical for families trying to get back to work.” According to the state Department of Human Services, which administers the funding, centers will Read more

 

Merski resolution urges greater U.S. involvement to aid Ukrainian refugees

(Apr 01, 2022)

ERIE, April 1 – State Rep. Bob Merski has introduced a resolution urging the U.S. government to broaden its role in addressing the Ukrainian refugee crisis by admitting more refugees and increasing aid to Poland as it assists millions crossing the border to safety there. Merski said he anticipates strong support for H.R. 191 , as Pennsylvania is home to the second-highest number of Ukrainian Americans in the nation. “Erie and other Pennsylvania cities with vibrant Ukrainian communities feel a deeply personal connection to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Europe,” Merski said. “Our efforts to help our sister city sister of Lublin, Poland, have shown us the magnitude of the problem, as we’ve learned the details about how officials there and in other Polish cities are working around the clock desperately trying to keep pace with the thousands of people arriving every day. “Our community and others like it have stepped up to help, but we need a more widescale effort from the federal government, which has accepted a relatively small number of refugees so far. My resolution urges Congress and President Biden to increase admission of Ukrainian refugees here in the states and to direct more humanitarian aid to Poland. “Our nation has a special history of opening its arms broadly to those needing a home, and we need to do that now to help stem the largest refugee crisis since World War II.” Calling for solidarity Read more

 

Collaborating for progress

(Mar 28, 2022)

A single voice can deliver a powerful message, but collective voices can carry that message farther, which is why the Northwest Democratic Delegation – our coalition of House lawmakers representing Erie and Northwest Pennsylvania – can be such a powerful advocate for our region. I was recently elected delegation chairman, and it is an honor to lead this hardworking group who stand united on so many issues that matter to our corner of the state. During my years as the group’s treasurer, I worked with my colleagues to bring nearly $40 million back to Erie and our region, expand pandemic relief funding and funding for early childhood education, and prevent closure of the Polk center. But as the pandemic has made clear, broad challenges remain. Long before COVID-19 shuttered storefronts and uprooted our economy, Erie and surrounding regions were grappling with the effects of a shrinking tax base, a growing labor shortage, and an economy no longer powered by heavy industry. To be sure, recent investments in commercial projects such as UPMC Park, major apartment renovations, expansions to the children’s museum, and many other projects are helping to stimulate the economy and transform the downtown landscape. At the same time, however, we need to change the landscape in more fundamental ways to encourage young families to put down roots here. That will be a top priority for the delegation in Read more

 

Merski resumes EMTA senior bus pass program

(Mar 24, 2022)

ERIE, March 24 – The return of a popular program offered by state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, will make it easier for Erie seniors to “ride the e for free,” Merski announced today at a news conference with Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Jeremy Peterson. Merski said a combination of factors prompted him to resume the program, which provides seniors who visit his 3901 Liberty St. office same-day service in applying for and obtaining the Senior Citizen Transit Identification cards that allow residents 65 or older to ride any EMTA bus for free. “The pandemic kept some seniors home and discouraged others from using mass transit more than strictly necessary,” Merski said. “Now, with more folks vaccinated and COVID-19 posing less of a severe threat, we’re anticipating seeing more seniors return to riding the bus more regularly – especially as gas prices continue to rise. “Our bus pass program will provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ in which seniors can obtain an application, receive any help they need completing it, and get their Senior ID card issued – all in one visit to our office. I encourage anyone who is eligible for a pass but does not yet have one to stop by.” “EMTA is proud to partner again with Representative Merski on this,” Peterson said. “We fully support efforts like this that facilitate easy access Read more

 

Harkins, Merski announce more than $6.6 million to area health care centers

(Mar 23, 2022)

ERIE, March 23 – Erie hospitals and behavioral healthcare centers strained by the pandemic will be receiving more than $6.6 million in federal funding to replenish resources and fund recruitment and retention efforts, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding, which represents Erie’s share of $225 million in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan Act, will provide critical reinforcements to healthcare workers who have remained on the front lines throughout the pandemic. “The pandemic showed us the heroic side of so many Erie workers, and our healthcare workers are a shining example of that,” Harkins said. “Incredibly dedicated frontline medical personnel have been working tirelessly through extreme challenges, and they need reinforcements. This funding is going to allow Erie hospitals and care providers deliver those reinforcements by funding recruitment and retention of staff and other critical resources.” Merski said, “Staffing shortages have not only strained our health care resources but can affect patient care. Securing this funding brings relief to frontline workers and also helps ensure that Erie residents continue receiving the dedicated level of health care they deserve.” The funding includes the following: LECOM Health Corry Memorial Hospital -- $118,100 Millcreek Community Hospital Read more

 

Harkins, Merski announce $500,000 grant to Erie City School District

(Mar 17, 2022)

ERIE, March 17 – The Erie City School District is receiving $500,000 in new state funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the Ready to Learn block grant will help the historically underfunded district shore up academic resources. “The new funding will help get critical resources into the hands of students and teachers,” Harkins said. “For decades, Erie City School District has been severely underfunded, in some cases operating with several thousand dollars less per student than other districts around the state. “We fought hard to get $14 million in recurring aid that is helping the district exit financial watch status and for level-up funding that is helping to level the playing field somewhat. But until fair funding is applied across the board – to every education dollar allocated – our students are still getting shortchanged. “A state court is finally reviewing the issue, and the right decision could right the tables once and for all. But until that happens, the district can use every dollar in additional funding it can get.” Merski said that the grant can be used to address a broad range of needs. “Ready to Learn grants are especially helpful because districts can use the funding to create or expand academics, reduce class size, build STEM skills, and strengthen other resources that Read more

 

Merski hosting drive to aid Ukrainian refugees in Erie’s sister city in Poland

(Mar 14, 2022)

ERIE, March 14 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is hosting a necessities drive to help thousands of Ukrainian refugees who are arriving in Erie’s sister city of Lublin, Poland, which lies about 70 miles from the Ukrainian border. Merski said that for many in Erie, the crisis in Ukraine hits close to home. “Erie has a vibrant Ukrainian community, and people are desperately worried for loved ones still in Ukraine or fleeing for safety,” Merski said. “My wife, Emily, and I have friends in Erie’s sister city of Lublin, Poland, which is not far from the border. When we reached out to them, we learned that tens of thousands of refugees are arriving. “Lublin residents have opened their arms and hearts, but they need our help. Officials there have provided a list of needed items, and I know our community will step up – as it always does in times of crisis – to help.” Merski said residents should bring the following to his 3901 Liberty St. office Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.: Space blankets/thermal blankets/sleeping bags/sleeping pads (foil covered)/mats. Raincoats/men’s, women’s and children’s underwear/thermoactivated underwear. Body soap/bodywash/toothpaste/toothbrushes/hairbrushes. Adult diapers/children’s diapers/sanitary pads. Reusable Read more

 

Rep. Bob Merski's Winter 2022 Newsletter

(Mar 10, 2022)

Rep. Bob Merski's 2022 Winter Newsletter Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $222,000 awarded to fight crime, reduce recidivism

(Mar 09, 2022)

ERIE, March 9 – The city of Erie will have new resources to combat crime, reduce gun violence and guide former offenders toward productive lives thanks to $221,836 in grant funding, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency includes three separate grants of federal funding that will continue the work of a police intelligence analyst, target gun violence and redirect offenders toward productive lives. “Securing this funding will allow us to up our game when it comes to tracking, investigating and prosecuting crime,” Merski said. “Part of the funds will support the work of a police intelligence analyst – a position that provides critical assistance in identifying suspects and witnesses and supplying other information that leads to arrests and convictions. Other funding will support ongoing targeted enforcement of gun and gang violence for safer neighborhoods.” Harkins said, “Equally important to crime investigation and prosecution is how we deal with folks exiting the criminal justice system and returning to the community, because the resources we provide can make a critical difference in the path they take and whether they end up returning to productive lives or falling back into recidivism. Some of the funding we secured today will bolster services that steer Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $118,000 awarded to upgrade Blasco Memorial Library

(Mar 09, 2022)

ERIE, March 9 – Blasco Memorial Library will be receiving some important upgrades, thanks to newly awarded funding of $117,757, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding -- awarded by the state Department of Education under the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund – will make the library safer and more accessible for visitors. “The grant is going to help Blasco with several important renovations, including construction of ADA-accessible restrooms on the second floor and upgrades to the existing 25-year-old elevators,” Harkins said. “The work is going to enhance safety for visitors and ensure that residents with mobility issues are able to enjoy the library as fully as everyone else.” Merski said, “Blasco brings our community together in the best possible ways – for learning, storytelling, community events and exhibits that celebrate our unique Erie culture and history. The funding awarded today is going to help modernize some of the facilities so visitors have the best possible experience.” The lawmakers said grant will fund half the projects’ total cost of $235,515. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins to host unclaimed property search March 15

(Mar 08, 2022)

ERIE, March 8 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are encouraging residents to visit their Treasure Hunt Unclaimed Property Search on Tuesday, March 15. The lawmakers said the event will be held from 9-11 a.m. at Merski’s 3901 Liberty Street office. “Many residents aren’t even aware they have unclaimed property being held in the state treasury,” Merski said. “Every year, the state Treasurer’s Office receives hundreds of millions in unclaimed property that never makes it to its rightful owner because of simple errors like misspelled names or wrong addresses. “If folks stop by our event, we can help them search the database. It’s quick and easy, and it sometimes yields unexpected but welcome results.” Harkins said, “It’s estimated that one in 10 Pennsylvanians has unclaimed property waiting for them in the state treasury. Those are pretty good odds, but there’s no way to find out without searching the database. I hope everyone will stop by on March 15 so we can help them search. It’s exciting helping folks discover money or other property they didn’t even realize they had.” The event is free, and no registration is required. The lawmakers said that if residents are unable to make it to the event, they can also call Merski’s office at (814) 455-6319, and staff can help them over the phone. Read more

 

Merski hosting Black History Month virtual town hall on Feb. 17

(Feb 15, 2022)

ERIE, Feb. 15 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is hosting a virtual town hall at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17 to discuss issues impacting Erie’s Black residents and other residents of color. “Black residents and other people of color have invested decades of effort to help build our community, yet most still face an unequal return on that investment compared to white residents when it comes to health care, education, jobs and general quality of life,” Merski said. “Our live event Feb. 17 will be a dialog to discuss these issues and what we can do to bring about change. “I encourage everyone to tune in and become a part of the conversation.” Those interested in attending the live online Teams event or learning more should send their name and e-mail address to Merski’s office by emailing RepMerski@pahouse.net or calling (814) 455-6319. The event also will be livestreamed on Merski’s Facebook page. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski to host May 5 live town hall addressing Presque Isle, Lake Erie cell service problems
Apr 26, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $350,000 awarded for projects to improve Erie fishing opportunities
Apr 26, 2022

Erie Delegation: $7.75 million coming to boost regional economy
Apr 22, 2022

Merski: Bosnian Islamic Community Erie receiving $25,000 security grant
Apr 14, 2022

Merski, Harkins: New construction projects coming to region
Apr 13, 2022

Merski joins colleagues to promote blight-fighting bills headed for House chamber
Apr 12, 2022

Merski introduces legislation to help startup businesses hurt by COVID-19
Apr 11, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Gannon, Penn State Behrend students’ research projects to share in $2.3 million in grant funding
Apr 08, 2022

Merski, Harkins announce more than $8.3 million to Erie child care centers
Apr 06, 2022

Merski resolution urges greater U.S. involvement to aid Ukrainian refugees
Apr 01, 2022

Collaborating for progress
Mar 28, 2022

Merski resumes EMTA senior bus pass program
Mar 24, 2022

Harkins, Merski announce more than $6.6 million to area health care centers
Mar 23, 2022

Harkins, Merski announce $500,000 grant to Erie City School District
Mar 17, 2022

Merski hosting drive to aid Ukrainian refugees in Erie’s sister city in Poland
Mar 14, 2022

Rep. Bob Merski's Winter 2022 Newsletter
Mar 10, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $222,000 awarded to fight crime, reduce recidivism
Mar 09, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $118,000 awarded to upgrade Blasco Memorial Library
Mar 09, 2022

Merski, Harkins to host unclaimed property search March 15
Mar 08, 2022

Merski hosting Black History Month virtual town hall on Feb. 17
Feb 15, 2022