Hazard Pay Grants will help bolster Erie frontline worker pay

(Aug 17, 2020)

Hazard Pay Grants will help bolster Erie frontline worker pay HARRISBURG, Aug. 17 -- Thanks to the COVID-19 PA Hazard Pay Grants, Erie businesses will receive $331,800 to boost pay to front-line workers helping the community through the pandemic announced Erie state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski. The following Erie-based service providers were awarded grants through the program to help boost essential workers’ pay from Aug. 16 through Oct. 24: $183,600 - LifeServices Management Corp., Westlake Woods Assisted Living Community, Southwoods Assisted Living Community, Hawthorne Woods Assisted Living Community, Richland Woods Assisted Living Community, and The Winds at Mattern Orchard Assisted Living Community. $169,440 - The Sarah A. Reed Retirement Center. “These grants will help front-line workers earn a living wage as they jeopardize their, and their family’s, health and safety by going to work, keeping shelves stocked, caring for children, keeping health care facilities clean, transporting our neighbors and more,” Bizzarro said. “Specifically, the workers of Erie’s care facilities have faced many challenges caring for our most at-risk population and their hard work and dedication more than deserves this boost in pay.” “Since the start of the pandemic, assisted living and nursing care workers have shown up day after day – under the Read more

 

Merski: More than $720,000 in grants to improve, expand sanitation services in Summit Township

(Aug 17, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 17 – Dual grants to the Summit Township Sewer Authority totaling $721,125 will fund a sanitary system upgrade for higher-capacity, more efficient operations and expansion of services to additional properties, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. Merski said the grants – both funded under the Commonwealth Financing Authority’s Small Water and Sewer Program – include $ 367,415 to install a new interceptor sewer, a large sewer line that transports sewage from branch lines directly to the treatment plant and $353,710 to expand sanitary sewer service to more properties. “These grants are investments in community health, but they will also work to make Summit Township stronger and more prosperous by funding upgrades that will eliminate system overloads, offer taxpayers and businesses greater efficiency and expand service to new populations,” Merski said. “I’m so excited for the township to reap the benefits of the new and expanded infrastructure.” Merski said the interceptor will provide additional capacity to the authority’s Route 97 sewer shed sanitary sewer conveyance system. By transporting sewage generated from south of Interstate 90 that is pumped by the Route 97 pump station, the new interceptor will eliminate a conveyance bottleneck north of Interstate 90. The project involves installation of more than 1,500 Read more

 

Merski demands U.S. Postmaster General end cutbacks that threaten to disenfranchise mail-in voters

(Aug 17, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 17 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is taking U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to task over service cutbacks that threaten to sabotage successful mail-in voting by Pennsylvanians in the upcoming General Election. In a letter to DeJoy , also sent to several members of Congress, Merski cites the recent elimination of Saturday hours at the South Erie Post Office and says the change will directly impact area residents, many of whom will choose to vote by mail or absentee ballots in the weeks ahead. “Residents have already been calling my office to complain about a slowing down of mail at the post office,” Merski said. “These aren’t actions taken to bring greater efficiency – they are deliberate attempts to silence residents who are looking to exercise their constitutional rights through our newly enacted mail-in voting system. “Democracy depends on full participation by the people, but the people can’t have a meaningful voice if their vote becomes lost in the mail. They say justice delayed is justice denied. The same is true of our democracy when actions motivated by partisan politics interfere with the timely delivery of our vote. That’s unacceptable – Americans everywhere have the right to know their ballot will be safely and timely delivered.” Merski is also co-sponsoring a resolution that commemorates the Read more

 

Rep. Merski's Summer 2020 Newsletter

(Aug 14, 2020)

Rep. Merski's Summer 2020 Newsletter. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: New project to transform Wayne School building will bring jobs, new community resources to Erie

(Aug 14, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 14 – An old building will take on new life as a hub of community resources for Erie residents, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the largely vacant Wayne School building will be transformed into multi-use space, with tenants providing job training, courses, affordable health care and other services. Funding comes from a New Markets Tax Credit transaction of $9.5 million that the Commonwealth Cornerstone Group has completed with the Erie Center for Arts and Technology. “The new center is going to provide services and opportunities that make life easier for residents,” Merski said. “One anchor tenant will be the Wayne Primary Care Clinic operated by Primary Health Network, which offers medical treatment on a sliding scale for low-income patients. “Another anchor tenant – The Erie Center for Arts and Technology – offers adult job training programs and expanded high school classes in photography and digital arts. It’s especially exciting to know that new resources are on the way to help Erie residents develop marketable job skills.” Harkins said, “The project itself is going to offer our community economic benefits in the way of new jobs. The work is expected to create 32 temporary, full-time construction jobs and, after the building is occupied, tenant employers are expected to create 29 jobs and retain 38 jobs paying Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski announce Erie to receive $300K investment for area housing security

(Aug 13, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 13 – State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, D-Erie, today announced that four Erie-based organizations will receive $300,000 in state funding to help local residents with housing costs. “As we navigate this pandemic, housing security is an important part of public safety. These projects will improve access to affordable housing while stimulating our economy. Public-private partnership is an important part of addressing the drastic need for housing that people can afford,” explained Bizzarro. “These funds will go directly to supporting our most vulnerable neighbors and those who care for them.” “Safe, affordable housing has never been more important as our community endures the economic impact of this pandemic,” Harkins said. “This funding is going to help make sure those in our community who are displaced or in danger of becoming homeless will have the security that comes with knowing they have affordable options. It will also assist residents in making necessary repairs and improvements.” “In addition to helping more Erie families find safe, affordable housing, this funding is going to support and improve related social services,” Merski said. “Some of the funding will be used to develop a centralized intake system so housing counselors can serve additional clients, while other funding will go to support our direct care workers who may facing evictions Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $125,000 in funding to ensure all Erie students can access online, remote learning

(Aug 07, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 7 – Erie schools are receiving $125,100 in grant funding to ensure all students have the tools they need to access online and remote learning programs, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding – administered by the state Department of Education through the Continuity of Education and Equity Grant program – includes the following grants: Erie City School District – $45,000 Iroquois School District – $37,850 Perseus House Charter School of Excellence – $24,250 Erie Rise Leadership Academy Charter School – $18,000 “As the pandemic continues and many families remain reluctant to let their students to return to the classroom, remote learning is proving critical to keeping students engaged,” Harkins said. “Unfortunately, it is only effective if students have the tools they need to access the curriculum. This funding is going to help make that happen by allowing our schools to purchase laptops, tablets, mobile hot spots and other resources for students needing them.” Merski said, “Although online learning can’t provide the social and developmental benefits that come with an actual school environment, it’s the best possible resource we have right now to ensure our kids continue learning. But it’s critical that no student gets left behind because they can’t afford the Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $300,000 in funding to help Erie career and technical education resume safely

(Aug 06, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 6 – Erie High School and Erie County Technical School are on track to receive $298,920 in federal funding to help both schools resume instruction while keeping students and staff safe, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The funding – including $182,819 to Erie High School and $116,101 to Erie County Technical School – comes from the CARES Act, which authorizes governors to determine the educational use of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds. “Knowing this funding is on the way will give peace of mind to students and their families,” Harkins said. “I have received many calls from worried parents wanting to know if steps are being taken to ensure that their students will be safe. Thanks to this funding, the schools will be able to implement plans they have developed to ensure the safest possible environments.” Merski said, “The funding is coming at a critical time for our many students who are on paths to high-tech careers and the many employers who depend on a well-trained, talented pool of applicants. These grants will allow our students to resume learning in safe surroundings as they hone their skills for the modern workforce.” The funds may be used for a variety of resources, including protective equipment, hand sanitizer and cleaning products, equipment or technology to take classrooms online; installation of barriers or other Read more

 

Merski: Medical marijuana dispensary to create 24 new jobs in Erie

(Aug 06, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 6 – A new medical marijuana dispensary will bring 24 new jobs to the area, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. Merski said the state Department of Health yesterday approved Goodblend Pennsylvania LLC as the eighth and final clinical registrant of Pennsylvania’s first-in-the-nation medical marijuana research program. One of the company’s two dispensaries will be located on Erie’s West Side, with the other in Pittsburgh. “The health department’s approval yesterday brings the best possible news for our community because the dispensary is expected to create 24 full-time-equivalent jobs with family-sustaining wages,” Merski said. “It’s also exciting to know that we will be playing a role locally in a unique new program to research the health benefits of medical marijuana for patients with cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder and other serious medical conditions.” Merski said the new dispensary is expected to be located at 2178 W. 38 th Street in Erie. Companies participating in the new research program hold both growing/processing and dispensary permits and will partner with academic institutions around the state. Goodblend will be partnering with the University of Pittsburgh. Earlier this year, another participant, CannTech PA, LLC, contracted with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $13,000 in COVID emergency relief to Erie Art Museum, Historical Society

(Aug 05, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 5 – The Erie Art Museum and Erie Historical Society will receive $13,000 in federal funding to help with operations impacted by the pandemic, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The grants include $7,000 to the historical society and $6,000 to the art museum. “As we reopen, rebuild and restructure to adapt to life during the pandemic, it’s critical that we continue supporting these special places that showcase and preserve our unique Erie history and culture,” Merski said. “The artwork and documents they protect and display serve as a chronicle for future generations about how our community persevered and survived -- even during times of adversity. Keeping them operating is as important now as ever." Harkins said, “In addition to collecting and preserving unique and important art and artifacts, our Erie Art Museum and Historical Society do so much to keep our community educated and engaged through learning, community programs, classes and events. This funding will help ensure that these important community centers can continue operating to provide these services now and in the months to come.” Bizzarro said, “Through their exhibits and displays, our Erie Art Museum and Historical Society play an important role in attracting visitors and tourists to our area, which is important to our local economy. This funding is going Read more

 

Erie universities, institutes awarded more than $500,000 in COVID safety grants

(Aug 03, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 3 – Grant funding of $512,227 will help Erie’s postsecondary education organizations implement plans to keep students learning as schools resume operations this fall, state Reps. Pat Harkins, Bob Merski, and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants -- part of a package of $28 million in federal funding to organizations statewide – include the following: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania -- $239,640. Erie Institute of Technology Inc. -- $11,797. Gannon University -- $106,418. Great Lakes Institute of Technology -- $20,900. Mercyhurst University -- $133,472. “With this funding, our universities and tech institutes will be able to implement plans and purchase equipment to keep students learning in the safest possible ways – whether that’s through online instruction, in-person classes, or a combination of both,” Harkins said. “The money can be used for a variety of resources, from protective and sanitizing equipment to structural modifications to online technology.” “Although learning is most effective when it takes place in a live, energetic environment with real-time questions and demonstrations, the practical concerns raised by the pandemic mean that we have to sacrifice some aspects of that model,” Merski said. “With this funding and creative planning by school administrators, though, Read more

 

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro ask governor to remove 25% capacity limit on restaurants

(Jul 28, 2020)

ERIE, July 28 – State Reps. Pat Harkins, Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, have joined fellow lawmakers in calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to lift a recent restriction limiting bars and restaurants to 25% indoor capacity. In a letter to the governor co-signed by other members of the Northwest Delegation, the Erie lawmakers said the restriction does little to improve public safety while jeopardizing the survival of key local businesses. “Requiring local restaurants and bars to adhere to a 25% capacity rule will make it incredibly difficult for them to meet operating expenses and survive,” Harkins said. “Instead of punishing all restaurant and bar owners for the transgressions of a few, we should be better enforcing safety violations by the few and leaving our responsible business owners alone so they can help our community make an economic recovery.” Merski agreed, saying “ Protecting the health of our residents doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the viability of the local businesses that are the lifeblood of our economy. There is no reason to believe slashing capacity will enhance public safety, and there is no point in doing so if it will not change the behavior of the few bad actors responsible for the violations. “We need to reinstate the 50% capacity guideline before more residents are forced to resort to crossing state lines to dine out.” Bizzarro said, “We Read more

 

Delegation urges Wolf to reconsider restaurant restrictions

(Jul 28, 2020)

Lawmakers ask Wolf to rescind 25% occupancy limit to help local businesses Read more

 

Hazard pay grants now available to support frontline workers

(Jul 17, 2020)

HARRISBURG, July 17 – Workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic could see hazard pay through funding advocated for by the Pennsylvania House Democrats. Eligible employers can now apply for $50 million in available grants to offer hazard pay to frontline workers in life-sustaining industries. Throughout the COVID-19 health crisis, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus has fought to support frontline workers and worked to ensure federal CARES Act dollars were allocated as part of the state budget package. Businesses in the following industries are eligible to apply for the grant funding: Health care and social assistance Food manufacturing Food retail facilities Public transit and ground passenger transportation Security services Janitorial services to buildings and dwellings More information on the grants is available here . Since the very beginning of the pandemic, and during 2020-21 budget negotiations, House Democrats have advocated for fair compensation and protections for frontline workers. Democratic state representatives from across Pennsylvania lauded the opening of the new grant program. Northeast Region Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe : "I am a strong advocate for better wages and conditions for all workers. During times of financial uncertainty, hazard pay is crucial for all frontline workers facing increased exposure to the COVID-19 Read more

 

Erie legislators laud Regional Response Health Collaboration Program grant

(Jul 14, 2020)

HARRISBURG, July 14 -- State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, today announced LECOM Health and UPMC Community Provider Services will receive $13.6 million to support COVID-19 readiness and response planning in long-term care facilities. The grants, awarded through the Regional Response Health Collaboration Program approved by the General Assembly, will help improve quality care related to infection prevention and allow long-term care facilities to expand COVID-19 testing to include asymptomatic staff and residents in facilities. “I am thrilled to see this investment in the fight against COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable citizens,” Bizzarro said. “Long-term care facility workers and residents need resources to help keep safe and mitigate the spread of this virus. When our health systems work together and the most innovative minds join forces, we can make meaningful progress in preserving the well-being of our community,” he explained. “It’s critically important to get this collaborative effort underway,” Merski said. “The pandemic’s effect on our long-term care facilities has been devastating, and we can’t attack the problem in a vacuum. By combining forces and pooling the best possible resources, professionals and information, we can help these facilities implement the kind of long-term planning and strategies they need to mitigate the Read more

 

Merski, Harkins remind area grocers, food retailers about COVID-19 relief fund

(Jul 10, 2020)

ERIE, July 10 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, want to be sure area grocery stores and other food retailers are aware of a new program designed to provide relief to these businesses impacted by the pandemic. The lawmakers said the Fresh Food Financing Initiative COVID-19 Relief Fund will support impacted businesses providing access to fresh, perishable and staple foods and will prioritize assistance to businesses located in and serving low-income communities. “Our small local grocers, food retailers and nonprofit distributors provide our community with critical access to fresh, nutritious foods – a resource that is more important than ever as residents strive to stay healthy during the pandemic,” Merski said. “But just as it has affected all businesses, COVID-19 has made it harder for these critical food retailers to continue operating. Harkins said, “This funding will help ensure that our community – and especially lower-income households –maintain access to the fresh, healthy food they need while also helping these key businesses contribute to our community’s economic health. We are urging all eligible local food retailers to apply.” Merski and Harkins said the program applies to traditional retailers as well as non-profit and cooperative entities such as corner stores and farmers markets. The applicant must: Read more

 

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: Nearly $10,000 in pandemic relief to local arts and cultural organizations

(Jul 06, 2020)

ERIE, July 6 – Five local organizations dedicated to arts, culture and behavioral health will receive $9,650 in CARES Act funding to help stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The Erie lawmakers said the organizations – the Erie Philharmonic, the Erie Playhouse, the Erie Art Museum, Erie Arts & Culture and Stairways Behavioral Health – will each receive $1,930. “These grants will help support the arts in our community and ensure they maintain their position as economic drivers,” Bizzarro said. “The arts are a vital part of our state, and many Pennsylvanians go on to play a role in the industry globally. It’s key that we make sure our arts organizations have the support necessary to bounce back from this pandemic and continue to create and inspire.” Merski said, “The arts enrich our Erie community in so many ways. They bring us together across cultural lines through shared enjoyment of performances, and they encourage expression of diverse stories. They inspire young minds, and they stimulate economic growth by drawing other businesses and commercial activity to the area. Our arts, cultural and behavioral health organizations have been hit hard by the pandemic, and this funding will help provide support they need to continue operating.” Harkins said, “Arts and cultural institutions Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Extended benefits available for those who have exhausted other UC benefits

(Jun 30, 2020)

ERIE, June 30 – Pennsylvanians who have exhausted their regular unemployment compensation and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits may qualify for an additional 13 weeks of extended benefits, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today . The lawmakers said the additional payments are available under the state’s Unemployment Compensation Extended Benefits Program, which becomes available when Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate reaches a certain level determined by law. “The extended benefits program was put in place to help working families who find themselves in severe financial straits through no fault of their own,” Harkins said. “The eligibility requirements are the same as for regular UC benefits, and applicants who qualify may receive half the amount of regular UC for which they were eligible. That means an applicant who was financially eligible for 26 weeks of UC may receive 13 weeks of EB payments.” Merski said, “Extended benefits can provide critical assistance for Erie families at a time like this. The benefits become payable only after an applicant has exhausted current PEUC benefits, but I urge anyone who may qualify to learn more about the program now. The Department of Labor and Industry will also be mailing information to those who potentially qualify.” The legislators said that to be eligible, an applicant must: Be totally or Read more

 

Merski, Harkins support bill to permit fireworks regulation

(Jun 30, 2020)

ERIE, June 30 – Citing growing frustration by residents over neighborhood fireworks noise, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, have signed on to legislation that would permit municipalities to regulate their use. “While most of us understand the well-loved tradition of celebrating warm-weather holidays with fireworks, the unintended consequence of expanding firework sales a few years back has been the chronic disruption of entire neighborhoods, especially in urban areas,” Merski said. “This legislation would help address the problem of fireworks in urban areas at all hours of the day and night and would strike a balance between permitting their safe, responsible use on one hand, and preserving residents’ right to peace and calm on the other.” Harkins said, “This issue has been simmering for some time, with residents calling to complain about terrified pets, disrupted sleep schedules and even traumatized loved ones who suffer from post-traumatic stress. This bill would bring some commonsense measures – including time-of-day limitations prohibiting fireworks use after certain hours – to help solve the problem.” According to the co-sponsorship memorandum , in addition to permitting municipalities to set and enforce regulations, the bill would limit fireworks use to between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Neary $6,000 in mini grants to bring horticulture to curriculum, educate public about lakeshore habitat

(Jun 26, 2020)

ERIE, June 26 – Two mini grants totaling nearly $6,000 will broaden the Erie public school curriculum to include urban gardening and horticulture and will fund interactive signage to help educate the public about lakeshore habitat, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced. The lawmakers said a $2,908 mini grant will allow the Erie City School District to develop middle school curriculum units – “An Urban Gardening Design Challenge” and “A Culinary Connection” – which will connect elementary school programming and high school career tracks. “By incorporating subjects like urban farming and horticulture into the school curriculum, we’re doing more than just teaching kids the hands-on basics,” Harkins said. “We’re generating a love of science, an appreciation for the natural world and an awareness about the world’s diminishing food supply. We’re also helping to create a culture of self-reliance and putting knowledge into the hands of our kids that can one day help sustain our community.” Merski said, “Garden classrooms are the perfect places to teach so many different lessons. They offer a hands-on look at the life cycle, teach kids about the importance of being good stewards of the environment and give them the thrill of seeing what they can produce with their own hands. They also provide real-world career tracks and introduce Read more

 

Hazard Pay Grants will help bolster Erie frontline worker pay
Aug 17, 2020

Merski: More than $720,000 in grants to improve, expand sanitation services in Summit Township
Aug 17, 2020

Merski demands U.S. Postmaster General end cutbacks that threaten to disenfranchise mail-in voters
Aug 17, 2020

Rep. Merski's Summer 2020 Newsletter
Aug 14, 2020

Merski, Harkins: New project to transform Wayne School building will bring jobs, new community resources to Erie
Aug 14, 2020

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski announce Erie to receive $300K investment for area housing security
Aug 13, 2020

Merski, Harkins: More than $125,000 in funding to ensure all Erie students can access online, remote learning
Aug 07, 2020

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $300,000 in funding to help Erie career and technical education resume safely
Aug 06, 2020

Merski: Medical marijuana dispensary to create 24 new jobs in Erie
Aug 06, 2020

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $13,000 in COVID emergency relief to Erie Art Museum, Historical Society
Aug 05, 2020

Erie universities, institutes awarded more than $500,000 in COVID safety grants
Aug 03, 2020

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro ask governor to remove 25% capacity limit on restaurants
Jul 28, 2020

Delegation urges Wolf to reconsider restaurant restrictions
Jul 28, 2020

Hazard pay grants now available to support frontline workers
Jul 17, 2020

Erie legislators laud Regional Response Health Collaboration Program grant
Jul 14, 2020

Merski, Harkins remind area grocers, food retailers about COVID-19 relief fund
Jul 10, 2020

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: Nearly $10,000 in pandemic relief to local arts and cultural organizations
Jul 06, 2020

Harkins, Merski: Extended benefits available for those who have exhausted other UC benefits
Jun 30, 2020

Merski, Harkins support bill to permit fireworks regulation
Jun 30, 2020

Harkins, Merski: Neary $6,000 in mini grants to bring horticulture to curriculum, educate public about lakeshore habitat
Jun 26, 2020