Merski, Harkins: More than $44,500 in targeted funding will help underperforming students

(Aug 26, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 26 – A grant of $44,583 will help bring targeted assistance to schools with underperforming students, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding awarded under the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund will go to Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5, the educational service agency serving Erie, Crawford and Warren counties. “As the new school year begins, we like to think every student will be starting from the same place, with the same opportunities,” Merski said. “Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Many traditionally underserved schools – including some here in Erie – have student groups that underperform, and that issue is only compounded by the pandemic. “Just as we have worked to keep all students safe during COVID-19, it’s incumbent on us to ensure that all students have the same opportunities to thrive and advance. The targeted support this funding will provide is a great step in the right direction.” Harkins said, “Successful businesses and industries need a diverse, talented pool of workers to survive, and that can’t happen when significant numbers of students fall behind. This funding is going to help ensure students identified as underperforming have the support they need to flourish. Ultimately, they are our next-generation workforce, and an investment in them is an investment in Read more

 

Merski chairs House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on instructing students during COVID-19

(Aug 25, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 25 – Ensuring safe education during the pandemic was the topic of a House Democratic Policy Committee hearing chaired by state Rep. Bob Merski today at the state Capitol. Merski, D-Erie, requested the hearing to bring lawmakers up to date on school district preparedness and ongoing needs. “Many schools will be providing regular, in-class instruction as we begin the new year,” Merski said. “School administrators and educators have worked hard to put detailed safety plans in place; this hearing was an opportunity for us to hear details of those plans and also learn what actions we can take here in Harrisburg to ensure continuing school safety for the duration of the pandemic." Merski and other lawmakers heard testimony from: Richard Emerick, superintendent of Fort LeBoeuf School District, and Ian Roberts, superintendent of Millcreek Township School District – Both officials testified about measures schools have implemented – including daily temperature checks, hand sanitization stations, reduced class sizes, reconfigured classrooms and staggered dismissal times, among other measures – to keep students and staff safe. Aaron Chapin, vice president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association – Chapin testified regarding PSEA’s recommendations for emergency legislation, including, among other measures, a bill Merski is Read more

 

8/25/20 – Instructing Students During COVID-19 – Harrisburg

(Aug 25, 2020)

Materials from a House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing held in the Capitol and co-chaired by State Rep. Bob Merski. Read more

 

House Democratic Policy Committee to hold Tuesday hearing in Capitol on instructing students during COVID-19

(Aug 20, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 20 – State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, announced today that the House Democratic Policy Committee will hold a public hearing on instructing students during COVID-19. The hearing will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25 in Room G-50 Irvis Office Building in Harrisburg. The media and public are invited to watch the livestream at www.pahouse.com/live . Requested by Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, the hearing will feature testimony from school districts in Erie County and educators. Testifiers will speak remotely, while members will participate in person and remotely. Testifiers will include: Brian Polito , superintendent, Erie School District. Richard Emerck , superintendent, Fort LeBoeuf School District. Ian Roberts , superintendent, Millcreek Township School District. Aaron Chapin , vice president, Pennsylvania State Education Association. Following the hearing, testimonies and full hearing video will be posted at www.pahouse.com/policycommittee . Read more

 

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Nearly $190,000 to help students with special needs retain crucial skills during pandemic

(Aug 20, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 20 – Funding of $189,895 to six area schools and districts will help ensure Erie students with special needs are not left behind during the pandemic, state Reps. Bob Merski, Pat Harkins and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, announced. “One of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic from a learning standpoint has been the loss of classroom learning,” Merski said. “All students benefit from in-person instruction, but for students with special needs, specifically designed instruction can be essential. This funding will help provide those extra services to ensure students with special needs don’t fall behind and are prepared to tackle the new year with skills intact.” “Our exceptionally dedicated teachers and special education staff are doing what they can to ensure students with special needs don’t fall behind during the pandemic,” Bizzarro said. “Nevertheless, gaps in classroom learning have posed special challenges requiring additional resources. This funding is going to put those resources into educators’ hands so they are able to supplement remote learning with real-time instruction and ensure vulnerable students continue to thrive.” “Inclusion is the key to ensuring our next generation is equipped to face the future and step into good-paying jobs,” Harkins said. “But that means giving all of our students an equal opportunity to advance. When Read more

 

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: More than $44,500 in targeted funding will help underperforming students
Aug 26, 2020

Merski chairs House Democratic Policy Committee hearing on instructing students during COVID-19
Aug 25, 2020

8/25/20 – Instructing Students During COVID-19 – Harrisburg
Aug 25, 2020

House Democratic Policy Committee to hold Tuesday hearing in Capitol on instructing students during COVID-19
Aug 20, 2020

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Nearly $190,000 to help students with special needs retain crucial skills during pandemic
Aug 20, 2020

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