Erie lawmakers, officials applaud MLB decision to keep ties to SeaWolves

(Dec 09, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 9 – Erie lawmakers issued the following statement in response to news that the SeaWolves have made the cut as one of the minor league affiliates selected by Major League Baseball as it reorganizes and downsizes its minor league baseball system from 160 to 120 teams. “The MLB’s announcement today was the best call Erie could have received,” state Rep. Pat Harkins said. “Our community has a unique relationship with the SeaWolves, with ties that run deep for so many of us. Years ago, my father worked with city officials to get the stadium built, and since then, it has been a place for our community to cheer together – and also a significant source of jobs and revenue. “When we learned the MLB was considering cutting ties, we did all we could to make sure the baseball commissioners understood the depth of Erie’s commitment. I’m thrilled that our efforts to keep the team here ended in a win so we can continue rooting for our hometown heroes.” State Rep. Bob Merski said, “Today’s news from the MLB means that our beloved SeaWolves will stay right here in Erie, where they belong. Beyond the entertainment value, the decision means Erie will continue to reap the tremendous economic benefits that go with hosting a double-A-list sports team. It also means that the state and city’s multimillion-dollar stadium investment was not in vain. The Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $2.6 million in tax credits to spur investment in housing, job training, blight reduction for Erie

(Dec 08, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 8 – Tax credits totaling $2.64 million under the state Neighborhood Assistance Program will leverage investments in projects to improve life for Erie residents, address blight and stimulate business growth, Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the tax credit program is especially helpful this year, as more residents are struggling because of the pandemic. “The investments generated by these tax credits are going to deal with immediate needs facing our community – from addressing food insecurity and creating affordable housing to providing additional learning opportunities for kids from low-income households,” Harkins said. “This year, programs that address quality of life are especially important, and this new infusion of tax credits is going to spur investment that empower residents to overcome obstacles, gain greater independence and productivity.” Merski agreed, saying, “In addition to assisting residents, the infusion of funding these tax credits will bring is going to change the landscape, quite literally, by helping to transform blighted, vacant areas into business-friendly, family-friendly spaces. Investments of this kind provide the catalyst for change that open the door to opportunities for our industrious small business community and hardworking families.” The lawmakers said $1.82 million in tax credits will leverage investments Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $17,500 in grants awarded to fund historical society, children’s museum

(Dec 02, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 2 – Grant funding of $17,563 will support the operations of the Erie County Historical Society and the expERIEnce Children’s Museum, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said that funding from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission includes $10,436 to the historical society and $7,127 to the museum. “We all appreciate the unique place Erie is, but it’s the artifacts and documents – the physical pieces of our history – that give us the perspective and understanding that explains how we got here and how far we have come,” Harkins said. “By archiving and chronicling our past, the historical society keeps us in touch with our roots and with the things that make us proud to be Erie residents. This funding is going to help it continue operating so it can preserve that history for generations to come.” Merski said, “In addition to supporting the Erie County Historical Society, the funding today is helping fund operations of the expERIEnce Children’s Museum, which provides incredible hands-on opportunities for learning. Kids are incredibly receptive to information they can process with all their senses, and the museum’s vivid events and displays offer experiences they will remember far longer than simple textbook lessons. “Today’s funding comes at an important time for both Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $200,000 for pandemic-related shelter needs

(Nov 30, 2020)

ERIE, Nov. 30 – Erie residents facing homelessness will have greater protection thanks to $200,365 in CARES Act funding to area shelters and relief organizations, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today . The lawmakers said the grant funding from the CARES Act will protect residents from combined threats during a particularly dangerous season. “Homelessness is brutal under any circumstances, but for Pennsylvanians without shelter during the pandemic, it can be a nightmare,” Merski said. “Securing this funding means that folks in our area who need it will have a warm bed and a place to keep themselves and their loved ones safe while they work to rebuild their lives.” Harkins said, “Home is a safe harbor from the harsh realities of winter and other dangers. This year, residents are facing additional, deadly risks – they need protection from freezing temperatures and unprecedented health risks. Thanks to this funding, there will be a safe harbor for them – and peace of mind.” The lawmakers said the funding will be shared by the following emergency shelter providers: Erie United Methodist Alliance (also provides street outreach). Community of Caring. Safe Journey. Community Shelter Services. The City Mission. Pennsylvania received a second allocation of Read more

 

House unanimously adopts Merski resolution celebrating Polish American heritage

(Nov 18, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 18 – The House today unanimously adopted state Rep. Bob Merski’s resolution designating October 2020 as Polish American Heritage Month in Pennsylvania. Merski, D-Erie, said he introduced H.R. 1074 to bring attention to the rich Polish American heritage shared by so many Pennsylvanians and the countless contributions Polish Americans have made to U.S. history, culture and innovation. “Pennsylvania has the fourth-largest population of Polish Americans in the nation, with more than 800,000 of us calling the commonwealth home,” Merski said. “Our roots are deeply entwined with American history and date back more than 400 years. “Poles worked and fought side-by-side with early settlers and founders, contributing to the survival of our earliest colonies and leading troops during the Revolutionary War. Over the years, they have made major contributions to the arts, sciences, technology and medicine. “As Polish Americans, we are deeply proud of this history, but also of the customs and traditions we share, which are alive and well here in Pennsylvania. They enrich our festivals and social clubs, where members form bonds, share stories and plan events that enrich the entire community. “We relish introducing those traditions to the others – something that has been difficult since the pandemic has prevented large gatherings. We are looking forward to the days when we can again share our rich culture – Read more

 

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: Millcreek public library receives $25,000 grant

(Nov 12, 2020)

ERIE, Nov. 12 – A $25,000 state Keystone grant will fund a needs assessment and relocation feasibility study for the Erie County Public Library’s Millcreek branch, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski, and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding from the state Department of Education supports a beloved community resource. “Millcreek Library has worked so hard to foster a love of books in our community,” Bizzarro said. “Even amidst the pandemic, they’ve served as a wonderful resource and continue to provide learning opportunities. This grant will help the library assess its needs so it can continue to enrich our community.” Merski agreed, saying, “With the pandemic having such an isolating effect, it’s especially helpful for people to have a safe gathering place where they can go to search information, attend programs with their kids, or simply relax and interact with neighbors. Securing this funding is going to help the Millcreek branch determine how it can best expand and improve access to those resources.” Harkins said, “Having an accessible community library with open doors is critical because it reminds people that despite how life has changed, there is a still safe, familiar harbor out there. The funding awarded today is an investment in a resource that provides help, hope and a place for people to share common ground.” Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $75,000 grant will fund home repairs for Erie residents

(Oct 29, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 29 – Low- to moderate-income Erie homeowners will get some assistance with needed housing repairs, thanks to a $75,000 grant to the City of Erie from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grant will fund individual projects to enhance housing safety. “Above all else, home should be a safe haven during the pandemic,” Merski said. “Residents struggling to meet basic household expenses should not have to worry about malfunctioning heating equipment or structural defects that threaten their families’ safety.” Harkins agreed, saying, “Thanks to this funding, eligible homeowners will be able to apply for assistance with projects like fixing faulty hot water tanks or furnaces, renovating dangerous structural elements like broken porch railings, and completing other small projects that are key to keeping their loved ones safe.” The legislators said the application process is expected to begin sometime in the next month – with additional details to come – and will be available for households with incomes below 50% of the area median income. Individual projects cannot exceed $3,000. Read more

 

Harkins bill would create hazard pay program for charitable nonprofit workers

(Oct 22, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 22 – Legislation introduced by state Rep. Pat Harkins would create a new grant program providing hazard pay for nonprofit employees performing charitable services on the front lines of the pandemic. Harkins, D-Erie, said he introduced H.B. 2931 to ensure that these nonprofit workers, who face the same dangers as other employees, are not passed over for compensation. “There are scores of nonprofit workers on the front lines of this pandemic,” said Harkins, who is Democratic chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee. “They are distributing food at food banks, operating shelters for those needing a warm bed, and carrying out other charitable services providing comfort and support to Pennsylvanians in need. “Much like other frontline employees, these workers are knowingly placing themselves in harm’s way to help others, and we need to stand with them and support them. We can do that by making sure they have the same chance at compensation for those risks.” Harkins said that like the state’s original hazard pay program, his proposed grant program for nonprofits providing a vital charitable purpose during the pandemic would be funded with CARES Act dollars. Employees whose employers were approved would be eligible for an additional $3 per hour for a 10-week period. The state’s original hazard pay program launched over the summer provided $50 million to 639 employers, resulting in Read more

 

Harkins named 2020 Early Childhood Education Legislative Champion

(Oct 19, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 19 – State Rep. Pat Harkins is being honored as a Legislative Champion by state education advocates for his role in founding the bipartisan, bicameral Early Childhood Education Caucus and his decade-long work promoting the caucus’ mission of protecting at-risk children. Harkins, D-Erie, said he began organizing the caucus 10 years ago after realizing it would take a unified, bipartisan effort to ensure all Pennsylvania children received an equal chance at success. “I founded the Early Childhood Education Caucus in 2010, with help from former state Representative Phyllis Mundy, because I realized Pennsylvania’s at-risk kids needed a strong, unified voice in Harrisburg to ensure they received the best possible start in life. “I was able to get just about every member to participate and become active members in the caucus, which was no small feat at the time, with depleted budgets that often ran months long and provided much uncertainty and tension among members and the administration. That we succeeded is a testament to lawmakers on both side of aisle, who understood the importance of the cause. “I’m extremely honored to be recognized for this achievement. This caucus has lived on and endured, and it provides great support for our state’s most precious resource – the young students who represent our future. We owe it to them to make sure that as they begin Read more

 

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: $1.5 million grant will expand Innovation Beehive, spur business growth

(Oct 15, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 15 – A $1,499,225 million grant will allow the Northwest Pennsylvania Innovation Beehive Network to expand and serve more area entrepreneurs and businesses, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski, and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie. The lawmakers said the grant to Penn State University from the Appalachian Regional Commission will fund a project to expand the Beehive’s reach and services, helping it to spur new businesses and support existing ones throughout the region and beyond, into Southern New York and Ohio. “The Beehive is a one-of-a-kind resource that harnesses the talents of our area’s best minds and pools resources to provide specialized expertise and services to businesses and entrepreneurs,” Bizzarro said. “Securing this funding means that the collaborative’s grant-funded centers will be able cast a wider net and serve more businesses and entrepreneurs, generating more economic activity and jobs for our region.” Merski agreed, saying, “With the new funding, more area businesses, inventors and entrepreneurs will benefit from the Beehive’s unique faculty and student-based services, which include everything from graphic design and video production to consulting and market analysis. The new project is going to help the collaborative expand into new services and areas as it supports hundreds of businesses, helps create new ventures and leverages thousands in private Read more

 

Merski alerts residents to one-stop-shop voting option

(Oct 13, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 13 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, wants to be sure residents are aware of a simple, one-stop-shop voting option that allows them to apply for, obtain, and cast a mail-in ballot all in one visit to the Erie County Voter Registration Office. “With the election right around the corner, it’s time to start preparing, especially if folks plan to vote by mail but have not yet applied for a mail-in ballot,” Merski said. “I want to be sure everyone is aware of a simple, one-stop-shop option that allows residents to visit the Erie County Voter Registration Office, located in Room 112 of the Erie County Courthouse at 140 W. 6 th St. “Once there, residents can apply for and obtain a mail-in ballot, vote that ballot, and cast it by dropping it in the office’s drop box – all in one simple visit. With all the complications the pandemic has brought, it’s a great way to take care of an important civic responsibility ahead of time and get everything squared away. “Of course, residents who want to vote by mail but don’t want to venture out can still apply online for a mail-in ballot by visiting www.votespa.com . Whichever option people choose, it’s a good idea to make a plan now, because the county must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot by 5 p.m. Oct. 27.” Merski added that residents who already chose a Read more

 

Merski, Harkins announce nearly $97,000 in fire grants

(Oct 08, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 8 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today that four fire companies in their districts will be receiving $96,849 in state grants for operational expenses incurred because of COVID-19. The lawmakers said the grants are being awarded by the Office of State Fire Commissioner to offset expenses related to the pandemic. “The pandemic has compounded the financial burden on our fire and EMS services in so many ways, forcing departments to acquire new protective equipment and answer a higher volume of calls,” Merski said. “This funding should help alleviate the financial strain and ensure our incredibly dedicated first responders have what they need to continue their lifesaving work.” Harkins agreed, saying, “Before the pandemic, fire and rescue companies were able to count on fundraising events as a source of supplemental income, but that revenue source has dried up because of COVID-19. At the same time, rescue workers are expected to be out there answering a high volume of calls while fighting new risks. It’s a tough job made tougher, but it’s our hope that this grant funding will help.” The lawmakers said the following fire companies will receive the following amounts: Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – $23,425. City of Erie Fire Department – $25,342. Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – $22,740. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins applaud administration’s move to loosen crowd limits

(Oct 06, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 6 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, today lauded news that the governor is loosening crowd restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings beginning Friday, Oct. 9. “We have been working with the governor to have reasonable limits that allow people to attend events, while maintaining the safety that is critical for combatting COVID-19,” Merski said. “I think these new restrictions meet the moment, allowing parents to attend sporting events and making accommodations for the size of venues. “We still need everyone to be smart and responsible – wear their masks and maintain social distance – while enjoying events and functions. Our community is ready to stand together and show that we support one another. I’m confident that we can do this safely and responsibly.” Harkins agreed, saying, “We have worked with the governor to find positive solutions that will work for people around the state going forward, and I am truly optimistic about today’s news that crowd limits are being relaxed. “Practicing safety and coming together as a community are not mutually exclusive. We all need something to cheer about, and the simple act of being able to go out in the stands and celebrate together is good for our mental health. It’s a step toward normal at a time when that’s needed most.” More information about changes announced by the Read more

 

Conklin: $50,000 awarded along Susquehanna River watershed

(Oct 02, 2020)

STATE COLLEGE, Oct. 2 – A $50,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources will help support and protect waterways along the Susquehanna River Watershed, state Rep. Scott Conklin announced. Conklin, D-Centre, said the Community Conservation Partnerships Program grant will allow the Chesapeake Conservancy Inc. to begin construction of 7 acres of riparian forest buffers to help control erosion and keep the waterways clean. “These proactive steps we take now will ensure our Susquehanna River stays beautiful and clean for years to come,” Conklin said. “It’s important we do all we can to protect our environment for future recreational opportunities for our residents and visitors alike, and this grant is certainly a step in the right direction .” C2P2 grants fund planning, acquisition and development of public parks, recreation areas, motorized and non-motorized trails, river conservation and access, and conservation of open space. More information is available here . Read more

 

Harkins calls for renewed focus on safety after Republican colleague tests positive for COVID-19

(Oct 01, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 1, – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement after a Republican House member tested positive for COVID-19, forcing session to adjourn: “Today, the state House of Representatives was forced to adjourn because a Republican member of the legislature tested positive for COVID-19. My colleagues and I sat with that member on Tuesday at a committee voting meeting. “Yet again – for the second time since the pandemic arrived – the state’s business has come to a halt in Harrisburg amidst efforts at contact tracing and fears that the virus may have spread. “It’s an interruption we can scarcely afford, as Pennsylvanians are looking to us to help protect their interests and come up with solutions to the many issues we face. “It’s also an incident that highlights the foolishness of making one’s own rules, of ignoring safety experts and officials and disregarding simple safety protocol. “Everyone wants this pandemic to end. Everyone wants to move forward. But there is a right way and wrong way. As much as we would like to believe that this pandemic over, it’s not. We can move toward normal, but we can’t rush headlong into the void. “I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who are complaining that restrictions are overblown and that it is time to return to normal to remember that there can be no normal without Read more

 

Conklin releases statement regarding House postponement

(Oct 01, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 1 – State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, issued the following statement regarding today’s postponement of House session due to state Rep. Paul Schemel, R-Franklin, announcing he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus: “Yet again, the people’s business was shut down, because House members who believe that COVID-19 is a hoax refuse to wear a mask on the House floor, not to mention House leadership continues to hold up any action on a masking resolution. Now, just weeks before Election Day, every member exposed to Representative Schemel must quarantine for 14 days. “I pray for a speedy recovery for him, but what is it going to take to get House leadership to enforce masking rules at the state Capitol? “The people’s business has now been placed on hold until Oct. 19 because of their political grandstanding. We face serious challenges in the coming months, and it’s time for these cynical games to stop! “We must enact safe measures to keep the House open and working for the people we were elected to represent.” Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Area food bank receives $50,000 Veterans Trust Fund grant

(Sep 18, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 18 – A $50,000 grant from the state Veterans Trust Fund to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania will benefit the food bank’s program helping veterans and their families, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding will support Second Harvest’s Military Share program, which is designed to provide fresh, nutritious foods for families with at least one member who has served in the armed forces. “I am proud to have Second Harvest Food Bank operating in my district,” Merski said. “The work they do transcends legislative boundaries, and I am thrilled to work with my Erie colleagues to get them the funding they need to continue this great work. This grant will help feed Erie veterans and their families in need and is a valiant use of state resources.” Harkins added: “No one should have to worry where their next meal is coming from, especially the brave servicemen and women who’ve selflessly served our country. Second Harvest Food Bank serves Erie well, and it’s heartening to see Erie tax dollars return to serve those who have served us.” More information on the grant program is available here . Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Erie Access Improvement Grant Program now open

(Sep 18, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 18 – Applications are now being accepted for the recently expanded Erie Access Improvement Grant Program, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants are open to public entities that are interested in acquiring land or other property rights, developing or improving public access sites, or carrying out other projects that benefit public fishing in the Lake Erie watershed. “We are excited that the program is open for applications, especially because it was recently expanded to fund a broader range of projects, including fish-cleaning stations and other projects to benefit publish fishing,” Harkins said. “We are looking forward to seeing more projects that allow residents to take fuller advantage of the lake and opportunities it offers.” Merski, who sits on the House Game and Fisheries Committee, said, “The Lake Erie Watershed offers tremendous benefits for our region, from recreation, to commerce to tourism. Projects that expand access to the lake and fishing allow more residents and visitors to enjoy this unique Erie gem while also helping our local economy. We are encouraging public entities to apply as soon as possible.” Act 56 of 2020 expanded Erie Access Improvement Grant Program funding – previously limited to access and habitat-related projects – to a more diverse Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $430,000 in grant funding to support Erie fresh food providers

(Sep 17, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 17 – Grant funding of $430,000 will help two important Erie food retailers continue supplying the community with fresh, nutritious meat, produce and other staples, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding, awarded under the Fresh Food Financing Initiative and funded by the federal CARES Act, includes $350,000 to Gordon’s Market LLC and $80,000 to Whole Foods Cooperative. “When the pandemic arrived, local retailers providing fresh, perishable food faced unprecedented obstacles, including revenue shortfalls, supply storages and transportation issues,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to help fortify these important local businesses and provide the resources they need to adapt to changing conditions so they can continue to be there to serve our communities.” Harkins agreed, saying: “Access to nutrition is more important than ever as the pandemic strains budgets for small businesses and families alike. Securing this funding is going to help families – and particularly lower-income households – maintain that vital link to the fresh, healthy food that helps residents stave off illness and stay strong through trying times.” The funding is part of a package of $10 million in funding to 115 retailers in 39 counties. Grocery stores, cooperative entities, farmers’ Read more

 

Harkins: $1.55 million in funding to support Great Lakes water quality projects

(Sep 16, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 16 – Projects to protect and improve water quality in the nation’s Great Lakes will move forward thanks to $1.55 million in grant funding awarded by the Great Lakes Commission, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced today. Harkins, who sits on the commission, said the grants – funded by the Great Lakes Sediment and Nutrient Reduction Program – will support efforts to install nutrient- and erosion-control practices in the Great Lakes basin. “Lake Erie and our other Great Lakes are unique and treasured resources, but we need to remain vigilant in combating erosion and runoff, which can damage water quality and the natural habitat,” Harkins said. “The grants announced today are going to advance those goals by funding projects to reduce the runoff of sediments, nutrients and other pollutants into the lakes.” Harkins said the program provides competitive grants for projects not typically funded by other federal cost-share programs, which allows it to fund innovative and unique approaches. The 2020 projects focus on long-term sediment and nutrient management, streambank restoration and green infrastructure. Funding for the Great Lakes Sediment and Nutrient Reduction Program is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Over the past 10 years the program has awarded 126 grants totaling Read more

 

Erie lawmakers, officials applaud MLB decision to keep ties to SeaWolves
Dec 09, 2020

Harkins, Merski: More than $2.6 million in tax credits to spur investment in housing, job training, blight reduction for Erie
Dec 08, 2020

Harkins, Merski: More than $17,500 in grants awarded to fund historical society, children’s museum
Dec 02, 2020

Merski, Harkins: More than $200,000 for pandemic-related shelter needs
Nov 30, 2020

House unanimously adopts Merski resolution celebrating Polish American heritage
Nov 18, 2020

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: Millcreek public library receives $25,000 grant
Nov 12, 2020

Merski, Harkins: $75,000 grant will fund home repairs for Erie residents
Oct 29, 2020

Harkins bill would create hazard pay program for charitable nonprofit workers
Oct 22, 2020

Harkins named 2020 Early Childhood Education Legislative Champion
Oct 19, 2020

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: $1.5 million grant will expand Innovation Beehive, spur business growth
Oct 15, 2020

Merski alerts residents to one-stop-shop voting option
Oct 13, 2020

Merski, Harkins announce nearly $97,000 in fire grants
Oct 08, 2020

Merski, Harkins applaud administration’s move to loosen crowd limits
Oct 06, 2020

Conklin: $50,000 awarded along Susquehanna River watershed
Oct 02, 2020

Harkins calls for renewed focus on safety after Republican colleague tests positive for COVID-19
Oct 01, 2020

Conklin releases statement regarding House postponement
Oct 01, 2020

Merski, Harkins: Area food bank receives $50,000 Veterans Trust Fund grant
Sep 18, 2020

Harkins, Merski: Erie Access Improvement Grant Program now open
Sep 18, 2020

Merski, Harkins: $430,000 in grant funding to support Erie fresh food providers
Sep 17, 2020

Harkins: $1.55 million in funding to support Great Lakes water quality projects
Sep 16, 2020