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Burns calls on governor to suspend state gas tax in wake of pipeline cyber attack

(May 13, 2021)

Says, ‘Give families a break’ as gas prices skyrocket ahead of summer travel season Read more

Nearly $7,500 to bolster urban agriculture in the Erie curriculum

(May 12, 2021)

ERIE, May 12 – Erie students will benefit from hands-on lessons in urban agriculture, thanks to a $7,478 grant that will support the Erie City School District’s urban greenhouse and garden project, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding under the state Department of Agriculture’s Ag and Youth Program – the second set of urban agricultural grants to Erie this month – will teach highly practical lessons in an outdoor classroom setting. “The past year has shown us the importance of equipping the next generation with skills that can empower residents in times of hardship and help our community be better prepared during emergencies and food shortages,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to enrich the Erie curriculum by including lessons in urban agriculture that teach these life-sustaining skills.” Harkins said, “The funding awarded today is going to support the Erie City School District’s Urban Greenhouse and Garden Project, which gives kids hands-on experience in growing food. Lessons like that, which yield real-life results, are the most lasting and powerful ones we can provide because they teach kids self-sufficiency. They also plant a seed of interest that will lead some students into agriculture as a career.” The 2021-22 Ag and Youth Program funded 57 projects, including 14 for Read more

Harkins, Merski join Acting Labor and Industry Secretary in calling for minimum wage increase

(May 12, 2021)

ERIE, May 12 – Pennsylvania’s working families have been waiting years for an increase in the state’s minimum wage that never comes, even as they watch workers in neighboring states benefit from increased purchasing power, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins told listeners at a virtual press event today with the Department of Labor and Industry. Speaking at the event with Acting Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier and an Erie child and home care worker, the lawmakers, both D-Erie, urged support of the administration’s plan to raise the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour, with a pathway to $15. “If the past year showed us anything, it’s that we could not have made it without the efforts of store clerks, delivery people, childcare workers and scores of other frontline workers,” Harkins said. “We’ve praised them and told them how much we value them, but at the end of the day, we haven’t done very much to put more money in their pockets or make it any easier for them to pay their bills. “Our minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 per hour since 2009, even as all the states surrounding us have raised theirs. When I was Democratic chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee, we pushed hard to find common ground with Republicans in the House and Senate to raise the minimum wage. We made progress in the Senate, but the House Read more

PA Rescue Plan, $1.7 billion investment in workers’ focus of House Democratic leaders’ rally in State College Wednesday

(May 11, 2021)

STATE COLLEGE, May 11 – The workers who have been hit hardest by the pandemic need support. The PA House Democratic leadership team is hosting a rally Wednesday to make the case for workers’ rights to a fair wage, hazard pay and paid family and sick leave and how the PA Rescue plan would do just that. The rally will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 12 at The Borough Building, 243 S. Allen St., State College . The media is encouraged to attend. The PA Rescue Plan includes more than $1.5 billion for job training, hazard pay, wage boosts for direct-care workers and job creation efforts to kickstart the economy in communities across the state. The PRP aims to ensure federal American Rescue Plan funding is invested for immediate impact and long-term success. Additional information about the plan is available at www.pahouse.com/parescueplan . Read more

Harkins: Nearly $15,000 awarded to boost urban agriculture in Erie

(May 07, 2021)

ERIE, May 7 – State grants totaling nearly $15,000 will enhance urban agriculture in Erie by funding materials to start a new urban farm and supplying equipment for two existing businesses, state Rep. Pat Harkins announced today. Harkins, D-Erie, said the funding from the state Department of Agriculture includes $10,000 to the SSJ Neighborhood Network, which will use the funds for a project to convert two vacant parcels into a new urban farm; $2,500 to Green Thumb Organics for a water line, and $2,497 to Wild Field Urban Farm for refrigeration. “As urban farming takes root in Erie, small farms are creating jobs, stimulating the economy, bringing together neighbors, and expanding access to fresh foods,” Harkins said. “Securing this funding is especially exciting because it is going to allow SSJ Neighborhood Network to complete the groundwork on its project to create a new urban farm. “The funding will also allow two area businesses to grow by helping fund the equipment they need for production and storage operations. It’s terrific to see urban agriculture continue to flourish in the district.” The grants are part of a package of nearly $500,000 in funding to 42 projects statewide. The Urban Agriculture Infrastructure Grant Program provides reimbursement grants that improve urban agriculture infrastructure in Pennsylvania by investing in the system, filling gaps, encouraging Read more

Burns: Disabled veterans should get elk hunting license lottery

(May 06, 2021)

Bill proposes making two permits per year available Read more

Burns backs election junk-mail bill

(Apr 28, 2021)

EBENSBURG, April 28 – After hearing from numerous constituents during the last election about confusing and excessive ballot applications being mailed to their homes, state Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, has taken action and backed a bill that would ban the practice. “Just like all my neighbors, my mailbox was flooded by these ballot applications from third parties,” Burns said. “It was excessive, unnecessary and frustrating. This legislation would put a stop to that and hold these groups accountable.” In 2020, a record number of Pennsylvanians cast their votes by mail, but many eligible voters across the state were frustrated and confused by mail-in ballot applications sent to them by third-party organizations. Most third-party organizations do not ensure the accuracy of their mail-in ballot applications, leading to outdated or inaccurate prefilled information being sent to voters. House Bill 1270 , which Burns is co-sponsoring, would prohibit third-party organizations from sending ballot applications to eligible voters. Read more

Conklin supports measure to reform redistricting processes in Pa.

(Apr 28, 2021)

STATE COLLEGE, April 28 – State Rep. Scott Conklin is supporting a bill designed to reform the redistricting efforts in both state legislative and congressional districts. Conklin, D-Centre, said H.B. 22 would provide enhanced transparency, allow more input from Pennsylvanians, and create a user-friendly website with data, proposed maps, public comments and related information. “Our residents are beyond tired of partisan politics, especially in the redistricting process, and I am happy to join Fair District PA’s efforts to move this legislation forward,” said Conklin. “The redistricting process should be fair and open, with more participation and accountability.” The legislation would also ban gerrymandering, place limits on splitting counties beyond what’s required by population, end the division of voting precincts, and ensure protection of racial and language minorities against discrimination in the mapping process. House Bill 22 is under consideration in the House State Government Committee. Read more

Burns: $22.5 million available for community watershed and water quality projects

(Apr 26, 2021)

Urges schools, local governments and nonprofits to apply Read more

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $23,000 awarded to educate Erie students on watershed, climate change issues

(Apr 22, 2021)

ERIE, April 22 – Area students will learn more about stewardship of Erie’s unique watershed and the impact of climate change thanks to nearly $23,000 in grants to support environmental education, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today, on Earth Day. The lawmakers said the grants from the Department of Environmental Protection will fund hands-on teaching models for K-12 students. “Climate change isn’t an abstract concept that can be taught in textbooks,” Harkins said. “The reality is that it impacts critical life-sustaining issues like local food access. This funding is going to allow the Erie City School District to establish two middle school greenhouses that will serve as outdoor classrooms, planting the seeds of awareness that give students an understanding of the importance of climate issues.” Merski said, “Our students grow up by the water’s edge, and that experience becomes a part of their identity. But enjoying the lake’s natural beauty and recreational opportunities isn’t the same as understanding how to care for our unique and delicate watershed. It’s incumbent on us to make sure we pass along that knowledge, and the new wetland model will be a great tool for that.” The grants include: • $20,000 to the Regional Science Consortium to construct an Interactive Wetland Model to support K-12 nonformal Read more