With greater numbers at risk, Merski bill takes aim at human trafficking

(Feb 26, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 26 – With the risks related to human trafficking on the rise, state Rep. Bob Merski this week introduced a bill that would extend a possible lifeline to victims by mandating that hotline information be posted in public restrooms statewide. Merski, D-Erie, said he introduced H.B. 644 – which would require that the National Human Trafficking Hotline number be posted in stalls, on mirrors, and by all hand dryers and paper towel dispensers – to increase access to a lifesaving tool at a time when pandemic-based hardships have upped the risks for trafficking victims. “Human trafficking is modern-day enslavement that exploits captives for commercial sex or forced labor,” Merski said. “Hundreds of cases have been reported in Pennsylvania in recent years, and that number stands to rise as pandemic-based hardships have created new opportunities for perpetrators. “Although anyone can be a target, traffickers tend to prey on people who appear vulnerable because of homelessness, poverty, depression and other circumstances that breed a sense of desperation. The pandemic – which has exacerbated those problems – has only increased the risk to vulnerable populations and made it more difficult to identify and help them,” he said. “Posting hotline information in public places where captives may see it can give them a chance, when seconds count, to learn that help is just a phone call away. In other Read more

 

Harkins seeks to resolve confusion over why voters on ‘permanent’ mail-in ballot list are being asked to reapply

(Feb 25, 2021)

Harkins said voters who received the letter and wish to receive their ballots by mail for the 2021 elections should complete and submit the application form on the back of the letter. Read more

 

Merski bill would shed light on local board decision-making

(Feb 25, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 25 – Local government boards would have more of a public face and greater accountability under a new bill introduced by state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie. Merski said H.B. 647 – which would require municipal authorities, boards and other local government bodies to maintain public websites listing board members’ names and other information – would bring greater transparency to the decision-making process. “Citizens have the right to know more about the local authorities whose decisions impact their lives and spend their tax dollars,” Merski said. “That’s more important than ever today, as the pandemic has strained resources. But it can’t happen when the decision-making process takes place behind closed doors, where special interests can poison the process. Open meetings laws can sometimes provide access, but the laws can be complicated to use, and some meetings remain closed. “Requiring boards and other local decision-making authorities to publish members’ names and contact information would provide citizens a simple way to reach members with questions or concerns and help ensure critical decision-making does not slip under the radar. By putting a public face to these boards, we let in the sunlight, and with it, greater accountability to taxpay ers.” Merski said that under his bill, all political subdivision Read more

 

Burns urges PA to reprioritize vaccine rollout

(Feb 24, 2021)

Says smokers should be treated like everyone else Read more

 

Merski, Harkins call for increase in vaccine doses to Erie

(Feb 17, 2021)

ERIE, Feb. 17 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins said Erie County is not getting its fair share of vaccine under the state’s distribution plan, and they are urging the governor and state health officials to correct the inequity. In a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam co-signed by other Erie state representatives, the lawmakers claim vaccine allocation is supposed to be based on population size, but records show Erie County is not getting a share proportional to its population. “Although Pennsylvania can’t control federal production and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, the state can at least ensure that the supplies it does get are fairly distributed,” Merski said. “That isn’t happening right now – Erie is getting short shrift, and that’s not acceptable. “State records show Erie County has 2.1% of the state’s population, but it is only receiving 1.7% of the available vaccine. At the same time, it’s being reported that three counties in Pennsylvania representing 21% of the population are receiving more than one-third of the state’s total supply. We are urging Governor Wolf and state health officials to supply the additional doses to ensure Erie residents get the fair shot at this vaccine that they deserve.” Harkins said: “Our local Erie health officials and healthcare providers have the capacity to Read more

 

Letter calling on Governor to supply additional vaccine to Erie

(Feb 17, 2021)

Letter from Reps. Merski, Harkins and other Erie representatives calling for more vaccine. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Penn State Behrend awarded $200,000 to develop tech training center for regional manufacturers

(Feb 10, 2021)

ERIE, Feb. 10 – A $200,000 grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development will allow Penn State Behrend to develop a “4.0 Center of Excellence” for regional manufacturers, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the state’s Manufacturing Training-to-Career program will help ensure that area industry maintains a well-trained workforce. “With this funding, Penn State Behrend will be able to offer training in the latest tech-based tools that manufacturers need to compete in the modern digital world,” Harkins said. “By helping manufacturers ensure that worker skills keep pace with technological advancements – from robotics to digital systems to data analysis – the center will help regional industries reach more customers, speed production and improve efficiency. “I attended Penn State Behrend, and I am extremely excited to see the ways my alma mater will be helping our region remain competitive.” Merski said, “The new Industry 4.0 Center of Excellence is going to help bring manufacturing in our region further into 21 st century. Access to cutting-edge technology is one of the keys to competitiveness in the business world, but the technology is only effective if workers are trained to use it. By offering expanded workforce training on state-of-the-art systems, the new center is going to Read more

 

Merski demands answers, accountability at vaccine rollout hearing

(Feb 08, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – At a House Policy Committee Hearing today, state Rep. Bob Merski demanded answers from state officials regarding why the COVID-19 rollout is leaving so many eligible residents still waiting for a vaccine. Merski, D-Erie, called for greater consistency and a rollout that prioritizes the community’s most vulnerable. “Today at the Policy Committee hearing on the vaccine rollout, I questioned state health officials about confusing and inconsistent rollout measures,” Merski said. “Residents are growing increasingly frustrated as it seems the rules of the game – including who is eligible for the shot and who is getting it – are being changed midway through. “We need greater accountability and consistency, and we need answers when providers decide they are not going to follow the CDC guidelines, because with a limited supply of vaccine, it’s critical to make sure doses are getting into the arms of the most vulnerable residents. We are hearing that it may still take weeks before nursing and personal care homes residents are staff are fully vaccinated. “In addition to urging officials to make those vulnerable residents a priority, I also urged the state to put a priority on teachers who are already in the classroom teaching and have preexisting conditions. Having taught in the classroom for 19 years, I know there is Read more

 

Burns: Tradition of honoring military veterans continues

(Feb 08, 2021)

Three bridge-naming bills include inaugural first responder honoree Read more

 

Conklin issues statement on resolution to honor U.S. Capitol Police

(Feb 08, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, issued the following statement regarding co-sponsorship of his resolution to honor members of the U.S. Capitol Police following the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021: “I’m pleased to report that, at last check, there are 24 co-sponsors of my resolution to honor these brave men and women who answered the call, including Capitol Police Officer Sicknick, who died as a result of the injuries he sustained during that insurrection, and whose funeral was held just last week. “When I introduced this resolution a few weeks ago, I felt it was truly a great way to support these officers who work hard and sacrifice their lives to keep people safe, including the public, members of Congress and their staff. “I am truly puzzled that more of my colleagues have not signed on to honor them and the work they do to keep us safe. I am urging them to consider supporting this effort.” Read more

 

Burns votes for National Guard vaccine assistance

(Feb 05, 2021)

Bill would leverage Guard expertise in logistics, communications Read more

 

Harkins supports budget’s strong investment in education, working families

(Feb 03, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address today: “None of us could have imagined the widespread havoc COVID would wreak or the toll it would take, especially on our small business community. A major priority in the year ahead will be ensuring additional federal COVID relief funding makes it into the hands of our local businesses – and specifically the restaurants, taverns and bars and social clubs that are hanging on by a string – as quickly as possible. “In addition to the anticipated federal funding, I support the governor’s plan to distribute $145 million in state funding to help our small businesses survive. “Beyond helping our business community recover, education funding on all levels is a major priority, and I support the governor's proposal to increase the amount of basic education funding that is distributed through the fair funding formula. “Household income should never determine a child’s future, and the way to level the playing field is by ensuring that high quality public education is equally available to all kids and does not depend on a family’s ZIP code. I was encouraged by the governor’s proposal that would significantly increase funding for the Erie City School District, both in terms of basic education and special education Read more

 

Merski: New loan to local Erie business will stimulate new business for region

(Feb 03, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, issued the following statement today in response to news that real estate holding company AnDi LLC was approved for a business loan for a new commercial venture: “I’m extremely excited for AnDi LLC, which is going to use the loan for a new commercial project that will bring renewed business activity to the region,” Merski said. “The company plans to purchase about 12 acres located in Fairview Business Park to construct a 95,500-square-foot distribution facility, which it will lease to Allegheny Beverage Company under a 15-year lease agreement. About 10,000 square feet of the new facility will be used for office space, with remaining space to be used as a modern warehouse. “This is the kind of investment that is going to generate jobs and attract increased economic activity for our area, and I am truly excited about the new venture.” Merski said AnDI LLC, a real estate holding company through Enterprise Development Center of Erie County, Inc., was approved for a $2.25 million 15-year loan at a 0.75 percent reset rate and comes from through the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority. As a single-tenant building project, the loan will be subject to the retention of Allegheny Beverage Company's 70 full-time employees from their current Erie location and the creation of 10 full-time employees within Read more

 

Merski supports proposed budget investments in education, working families, public health

(Feb 03, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 3 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget address today. “Restoring the strength of our local businesses and communities will dominate budget planning this year as we work to distribute additional federal COVID relief funding. Speeding funding to our community’s restaurants, bars, shops and other local businesses will be critical. As we await more federal funding, I support the governor’s proposal to immediately allocate $145 million in state funding now to help these businesses survive. “While federal funding will obviously play a major role in economic recovery this year, our plans for allocating state funding in other critical areas like education are going to shape our community’s rebound and recovery. I strongly support the governor’s proposal to make education funding more equitable through a significant investment in the fair funding formula. Public education can be one of life’s greatest equalizers – but only if every student has access to the same high-quality curricula regardless of household income. “I also support continued investments to make public college more affordable, so young adults don’t start off in life struggling under a huge student debt burden. I am encouraged to hear about proposed investments in Erie County Community College, Read more

 

Burns urges restraint, patience on 2021-22 state budget

(Feb 03, 2021)

Wolf’s proposal a ‘starting point’ subject to negotiation with GOP Read more

 

Merski, Harkins assume new leadership roles in Northwest Delegation

(Jan 28, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 28 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are taking on new leadership roles in the state legislature’s Northwest Delegation, with Merski elected vice chairman and Harkins elected treasurer for the 2021-22 legislative session. As they embrace their new roles, the lawmakers, both D-Erie, said they are mindful of the challenges that lay ahead. “Restoring the economic health of our region will require the Northwest Delegation to play an active role in speaking out for Erie and the needs of our region, and I am looking forward to helping lead that effort as vice chairman of the delegation,” Merski said. “Being Erie’s voice in Harrisburg means understanding the specific challenges residents are facing here in our corner of the state, from a need for greater job opportunities and career training to reliable childcare and affordable health care. “Working families and small business owners in our region are looking to us for answers, and their needs will be front-and-center as we work to develop solutions that recharge our economy and restore quality of life.” Harkins said: “We know that it will not be an easy road ahead as Erie continues shaking off the economic impacts of the pandemic, and the delegation will need to be a stronger voice than ever as we work to get our region back on its feet. As the new delegation treasurer, I will be doing everything in my power help guide our small Read more

 

Burns re-elected leader of Northwest Delegation

(Jan 27, 2021)

Lawmaker pledges to continue bipartisan work for region Read more

 

Merski, Harkins laud Erie blogger honored by historical society

(Jan 27, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 27 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins are hailing local resident Erin Phillips, who was awarded a Community Initiative Award for 2020 from the State Historic Preservation Office for her “Old Erie on Foot” Instagram account and blog. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said Phillips’ work, which encourages others to discover and explore Erie’s historic places, is bringing attention to the area’s rich past and encouraging others to learn and participate. “Some communities are lucky enough to have natural storytellers who have a knack for sharing their love of history in a relatable, engaging way that excites others,” Merski said. “Erin Phillips is one of those natural storytellers. The stories and photos in her blog and Instagram account, “Old Erie on Foot,” have inspired thousands to learn more about the people, places and events that shaped us.” Harkins said: “We are so proud of Erin Phillips for her work in bringing attention to Erie’s rich history. Local history comes alive when it is shared by those who have roots in the community. By encouraging readers to explore historical buildings, homes and other sites, Ms. Phillips is laying a path through the fascinating events that happened here and inspiring others to follow in her footsteps.” According to the historic preservation office – a bureau of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Read more

 

Conklin introduces bill to better protect victims of domestic violence

(Jan 27, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 27 – State Rep. Scott Conklin announced he will soon introduce a measure that would require those under Protection from Abuse orders in connection with a domestic violence case to wear an electronic monitoring device. Conklin, D-Centre, said nearly half of states across the country permit electronic monitoring in such cases, and it’s time for Pennsylvania to do the same. “Almost 11 years ago, Traci Ann Raymond Miscavish, a dear family friend of mine, was murdered by her estranged husband at her workplace, who she had filed a PFA order against,” Conklin said. “She had previously expressed her fear of him, notably because he had firearms and had repeatedly threatened to murder her. Had he been ordered to wear a GPS monitoring device when the PFA order became final, she might be alive today. Study after study has shown that the presence of a firearm increases the likelihood of a domestic violence situation turning deadly, and my measure, once signed into law, will indeed save more lives.” Conklin added that while Act 79, passed in 2018, requires a person who is under an active PFA order to turn over their firearms to local law enforcement within 24 hours of conviction, it still does not reduce the threat of additional violence toward a victim of domestic violence. More information on Conklin’s pending legislation can be found at the following link: Read more

 

Merski launching February food and care product drive

(Jan 26, 2021)

ERIE, Jan. 26 – State Rep. Bob Merski is kicking off a month-long nonperishable food and personal care product drive Feb. 1 to help families struggling during the pandemic. Merski, D-Erie, is hosting the event in partnership with the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network and the Glenwood Park YMCA and said he expects a strong community response based on the success of last year’s care products drive. “We have an incredibly caring community,” Merski said. “The personal care products drive we hosted last year was a huge success and went a long way toward helping families. This year, with the pandemic creating an even greater need, we are expanding the drive to include non-perishable food and pantry items. I know Erie residents will rise to the occasion.” Merski said those able to donate should bring new, sealed nonperishable food items and personal care products to his district office at 3901 Liberty St.; his Summit Township satellite office (open Tuesdays only) at 1230 Townhall Road W.; the Glenwood Park YMCA at 3727 Cherry St.; or Pressed book and coffee shop at 1535 W. 8 th St. Merski said the following nonperishable pantry items and personal care products are especially helpful: canned foods (soup, fruit, vegetables, stew, fish, and beans). pasta/rice/instant mashed potatoes. peanut butter/applesauce. boxed Read more

 

With greater numbers at risk, Merski bill takes aim at human trafficking
Feb 26, 2021

Harkins seeks to resolve confusion over why voters on ‘permanent’ mail-in ballot list are being asked to reapply
Feb 25, 2021

Merski bill would shed light on local board decision-making
Feb 25, 2021

Burns urges PA to reprioritize vaccine rollout
Feb 24, 2021

Merski, Harkins call for increase in vaccine doses to Erie
Feb 17, 2021

Letter calling on Governor to supply additional vaccine to Erie
Feb 17, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Penn State Behrend awarded $200,000 to develop tech training center for regional manufacturers
Feb 10, 2021

Merski demands answers, accountability at vaccine rollout hearing
Feb 08, 2021

Burns: Tradition of honoring military veterans continues
Feb 08, 2021

Conklin issues statement on resolution to honor U.S. Capitol Police
Feb 08, 2021

Burns votes for National Guard vaccine assistance
Feb 05, 2021

Harkins supports budget’s strong investment in education, working families
Feb 03, 2021

Merski: New loan to local Erie business will stimulate new business for region
Feb 03, 2021

Merski supports proposed budget investments in education, working families, public health
Feb 03, 2021

Burns urges restraint, patience on 2021-22 state budget
Feb 03, 2021

Merski, Harkins assume new leadership roles in Northwest Delegation
Jan 28, 2021

Burns re-elected leader of Northwest Delegation
Jan 27, 2021

Merski, Harkins laud Erie blogger honored by historical society
Jan 27, 2021

Conklin introduces bill to better protect victims of domestic violence
Jan 27, 2021

Merski launching February food and care product drive
Jan 26, 2021