Merski: Bosnian Islamic Community Erie receiving $25,000 security grant

(Apr 14, 2022)

ERIE, April 14 – The Bosnian Islamic Community Erie Inc., has received a $25,000 grant under the 2022 Nonprofit Security Grant Program, state Rep. Bob Merski announced today. Merski said the funding will ensure the nonprofit’s members and visitors enjoy a safe environment. “No resident of our community should ever have to feel threatened, especially in places where they gather to celebrate cultural ties and plan and host educational, religious, charitable and other events,” Merski said. “This funding should help ensure that our friends and neighbors who frequent the organization have the peace of mind they deserve as they go about their community work that enriches Erie.” Merski said organizations receiving grants may use them for a variety of security measures, including: safety and security planning and training and threat-awareness and response training. equipment and technology such as metal detectors, protective lighting, surveillance equipment, emergency communications equipment, electronic locksets, deadbolts, trauma kits and theft-control devices. upgrades to existing structures that enhance safety and security. vulnerability and threat assessments. specialty-trained canines. any other safety- or security-related project that enhances safety or security of the nonprofit organization. The Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: New construction projects coming to region

(Apr 13, 2022)

ERIE, April 13 – Infrastructure projects coming to Erie and Pennsylvania’s northwest region will spell new opportunities for workers while shoring up public safety, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins said today after administration officials visited Erie to highlight nearly $300 million worth of projects for the region. The lawmakers said funding from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – which will support nearly 90 new or continuing projects – is good news on multiple levels. “Beyond building new roads and stronger bridges to connect our region, these projects will be bridges to greater economic opportunities for residents who do not have higher education degrees or specialized training,” said Merski, who is chair of the House Democratic Caucus’ Northwest Delegation. “It’s an opportunity to help families on an individual level build back their own financial independence as we strengthen the regional economy.” Harkins, who is delegation treasurer, said, “The recent Pittsburgh bridge collapse reminded everyone how vital these infrastructure projects will be – not just as a shot in the arm to our regional economy but from a public safety standpoint. It was a miracle no one was killed in that collapse, but we might not be as fortunate the next time around. As far as I’m concerned, we can’t get this work started soon Read more

 

Merski joins colleagues to promote blight-fighting bills headed for House chamber

(Apr 12, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 12 – State Rep. Bob Merski joined colleagues at the state Capitol today to highlight his bill to combat blight and similar legislation that was voted out of the House Urban Affairs Committee. Merski, D-Erie, said his H.B. 1827 – which would provide a grant program cities could use to fund code enforcement efforts – was included as an amendment to H.B. 1791 – a vacant property registration proposal – as part of a bipartisan package of bills to address blight. “Blight stalls progress – it invites crime, lowers property values and discourages new businesses, residents, and investment. But redevelopment encourages more redevelopment, and giving our municipalities more resources to ensure properties are up to code enhances entire neighborhoods and communities. “Cities were struggling to keep these code programs funded even before the pandemic, and now, with budgets stretched to the max, those efforts are foundering. My bill would give them new life by funding grants that cities could use to launch new property maintenance code enforcement programs, hire inspectors or add more staff to strengthen existing programs.” Merski said the competitive grant program would be administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, and municipalities would be required to provide matching funds. Read more

 

Harkins joins labor officials at state Capitol to push for public worker protections

(Apr 11, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 11 – State Rep. Pat Harkins joined labor officials at the state Capitol today as the state announced plans to study the feasibility of extending Occupational Safety and Health Act protections to Pennsylvania’s public-sector workers and urged support for Harkins’ legislation to put those protections in place. Harkins, D-Erie, said he hopes the study will move the state closer to passing H.B. 1976 , which would bring long-overdue protections to the more than 600,000 Pennsylvanians employed by state and local government. “For years, Pennsylvania’s public-sector workers – from first responders, transit workers and bus mechanics, to maintenance workers, equipment operators and water treatment plant workers – have been clocking into workplaces that are less safe than the ones run by private employers,” Harkins said. “That’s because OHSA regulations apply only to private businesses – they don’t protect public-sector workers. “These public-sector workers are the same ones who keep our families protected, our buses running, our roads repaired and our water safe. They face the same dangers – and in some cases, even greater ones – than private-sector workers. Surely, they deserve the same protections. “The feasibility study announced today will examine the benefits and costs of extending OSHA protections to public-sector Read more

 

Longietti: Area child care providers receiving more than $2.2 million to stabilize operations

(Apr 11, 2022)

HERMITAGE, April 11 – Area child care providers are receiving more than $2.2 million in federal funding to help them reopen their doors and return to full capacity, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced today. Longietti said the funding under the American Rescue Plan Act will provide grants to 24 area providers ranging from approximately $5,000 to more than $290,000. “Pandemic-related shutdowns and declining enrollments have had a devastating impact on child care providers in our community, and it’s an issue that is not only hurting these business owners and their families, but also complicating plans for working parents trying to return to the workplace. “This funding – which providers can use for operating expenses, personnel and program costs, equipment and supplies, and reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses – will help stabilize operations for these businesses that play such a key role for our community.” According to the state Department of Human Services, which administers the funding, providers will receive the funding in six monthly installments and must use it within nine months after their applications were approved. Centers also must report to DHS on how the funding is spent. A list of the approved funding to the 24 providers is available here . The American Rescue Plan Act provided $24 billion to states nationwide to stabilize the child care sector. The local grants Read more

 

Merski introduces legislation to help startup businesses hurt by COVID-19

(Apr 11, 2022)

HARRISBURG, April 11 – State Rep. Bob Merski has introduced legislation that would help startup businesses that were hurt by the pandemic but ineligible for previous COVID-19 assistance. Merski, D-Erie, said he drafted H.B. 2487 after becoming aware that many small businesses that started in January 2020 or later did not qualify under existing relief programs. “The pandemic was incredibly difficult for every business in our community, but for startups that had just opened their doors and were looking to build momentum, it was like being hit by a tsunami,” Merski said. “Unfortunately, many of these new businesses were ineligible under existing relief programs. My bill would address this problem by establishing a grant program for companies that began operations between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021. “Every business deserves all the help we can provide, regardless of when they opened their doors. We need to ensure these young businesses trying to establish themselves in our community aren’t swept away before they get a chance to put down roots.” Merski’s bill would create a county block grant program that would provide grants of up to $15,000 for eligible businesses. The bill has been referred to the PA House Commerce Committee. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Gannon, Penn State Behrend students’ research projects to share in $2.3 million in grant funding

(Apr 08, 2022)

ERIE, April 8 – Research projects from student teams at Gannon University and Penn State Behrend were among 36 projects selected statewide to share in grant funding totaling $2.3 million, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants – administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development under the Manufacturing PA Initiative – were awarded to projects statewide that will help advance innovation in manufacturing sectors including 3D printing, waste sustainability, autonomous navigation, and several other areas. “I work closely with Gannon University President Keith Taylor, and I am constantly amazed and inspired by the talented minds Gannon, Penn State Behrend, and our region’s other universities attract,” Harkins said. “Innovation starts right here, at the local level, with ideas from young, bright minds. With support from area businesses and other partners, those ideas grow into plans and applications, and then into real-world manufacturing advances. “We are so proud of our brilliant young students, and also thankful to the local business community partners who partner with our schools to make this kind of innovation happen.” Merski said: “I want to congratulate the Penn State Behrend and Gannon University students who were involved in these projects, which show so much initiative and innovation. Efforts Read more

 

Sainato: Area child care providers receiving nearly $2.3 million in federal funding to stabilize operations

(Apr 07, 2022)

NEW CASTLE, April 7 – New federal funding of $2.3 million will help 20 child care providers in the 9th Legislative District rebuild operations and resources drained by the pandemic, state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, announced today. Sainato said the funding from the American Rescue Plan Act will help stabilize these businesses, which provide critical support for working families. “The pandemic hit child care providers hard, and many struggled to meet payroll, rent, and other obligations as widescale prolonged shutdowns and plunging enrollment dried up revenue,” Sainato said. “These grants will provide a welcome infusion of funding that businesses can use for operating expenses, personnel costs, including recruitment and retention, equipment and supplies, reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses, and other expenses. “It’s going to help them get their doors back open and running at full capacity so they can be there to support the working families who depend on them.” According to the state Department of Human Services, which administers the funding, providers will receive the funding in six monthly installments and must use it within nine months after their applications were approved. Centers also must report to DHS on how the funding is spent. A list of the approved funding to providers in New Castle and Edinburg is available here. The American Rescue Plan Act Read more

 

Merski, Harkins announce more than $8.3 million to Erie child care centers

(Apr 06, 2022)

ERIE, April 6 – Federal funding of more than $8.3 million will help stabilize Erie’s hard-hit child care industry so providers can be there for the families who rely on them, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the American Rescue Plan Act funding will provide nearly 100 Erie city childcare centers with grants ranging from $4,200 to $571,000. “Reliable, affordable child care is essential for working families,” Merski said. “Without it, parents are tied to the home and drastically limited in their job options. Unfortunately, lengthy shutdowns, declining enrollments and other pandemic-related problems dealt a huge blow to most child care providers, leaving many struggling just to keep their doors open. This funding will help with critical expenses to get these businesses – so vital to working families – back on their feet.” Harkins said, “Centers can use the dollars for a wide range of resources, including recruiting and retention programs; operational costs like rent, utilities, maintenance and insurance; equipment and supplies; mental health services for children and staff; and reimbursement for past COVID-19-related expenses, among other costs. Stabilizing the industry is critical for families trying to get back to work.” According to the state Department of Human Services, which administers the funding, centers will Read more

 

Merski resolution urges greater U.S. involvement to aid Ukrainian refugees

(Apr 01, 2022)

ERIE, April 1 – State Rep. Bob Merski has introduced a resolution urging the U.S. government to broaden its role in addressing the Ukrainian refugee crisis by admitting more refugees and increasing aid to Poland as it assists millions crossing the border to safety there. Merski said he anticipates strong support for H.R. 191 , as Pennsylvania is home to the second-highest number of Ukrainian Americans in the nation. “Erie and other Pennsylvania cities with vibrant Ukrainian communities feel a deeply personal connection to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Europe,” Merski said. “Our efforts to help our sister city sister of Lublin, Poland, have shown us the magnitude of the problem, as we’ve learned the details about how officials there and in other Polish cities are working around the clock desperately trying to keep pace with the thousands of people arriving every day. “Our community and others like it have stepped up to help, but we need a more widescale effort from the federal government, which has accepted a relatively small number of refugees so far. My resolution urges Congress and President Biden to increase admission of Ukrainian refugees here in the states and to direct more humanitarian aid to Poland. “Our nation has a special history of opening its arms broadly to those needing a home, and we need to do that now to help stem the largest refugee crisis since World War II.” Calling for solidarity Read more

 

Sainato: New aluminum extrusion facility coming to New Castle

(Mar 31, 2022)

NEW CASTLE, March 31 – New manufacturing jobs are coming to Lawrence County, as homegrown manufacturing company Bunting Inc. has revealed plans to expand operations to New Castle, state Rep. Chris Sainato announced today. Sainato, D-Lawrence, said the company’s plans to open an aluminum extrusion mill will create 79 jobs and continue Lawrence County’s trend of attracting expanding industries. “Available spaces, workforce potential and a track record of successfully hosting diverse industries has made Lawrence County a desirable destination for businesses looking to expand,” Sainato said. “We’ve seen that recently with manufacturers like Container Services and R.G. Coating, and today’s announcement regarding Bunting continues that exciting trend. “It’s terrific news because it means our community will be seeing additional good-paying, family-sustaining jobs. We welcome Bunting and look forward a long and productive relationship together.” Sainato said Bunting’s purchase of a 333,980-square-foot building on 24.3 acres at 930 Cass St. will allow the company to enter the aluminum extrusion market and produce goods for the building, construction, automotive and transportation sectors. According to the Department of Community and Economic Development, Bunting received a funding proposal for a $2.1 million Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority loan, a Read more

 

Sainato urges residents to apply for FEMA COVID-19 funeral assistance

(Mar 28, 2022)

NEW CASTLE, March 28 – State Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, is reminding residents who incurred funeral expenses because of a COVID-19-related death that they may be eligible for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Sainato, who is Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program is designed to help those who have borne the greatest burden because of the pandemic. “Although our entire community has felt the effects of the pandemic, the toll has been heaviest on those who lost a loved one,” Sainato said. “I want to be sure families who have suffered those devastating losses are aware that help is available to ease the financial burden, including reimbursement for a wide range of funeral-related expenses. “Those might include expenses for activities such as transportation to identify a deceased individual; transfer of remains; a burial plot, marker or headstone; clergy services; and other related costs.” Sainato said that to be eligible for reimbursement, the funeral expenses must have been incurred after January 20, 2020, for a COVID-19-related death occurring in the United States. The death certificate must attribute the death to COVID-19. The program may help reimburse the use of life insurance to cover funeral costs, but it will not provide reimbursement where the funds used were Read more

 

Collaborating for progress

(Mar 28, 2022)

A single voice can deliver a powerful message, but collective voices can carry that message farther, which is why the Northwest Democratic Delegation – our coalition of House lawmakers representing Erie and Northwest Pennsylvania – can be such a powerful advocate for our region. I was recently elected delegation chairman, and it is an honor to lead this hardworking group who stand united on so many issues that matter to our corner of the state. During my years as the group’s treasurer, I worked with my colleagues to bring nearly $40 million back to Erie and our region, expand pandemic relief funding and funding for early childhood education, and prevent closure of the Polk center. But as the pandemic has made clear, broad challenges remain. Long before COVID-19 shuttered storefronts and uprooted our economy, Erie and surrounding regions were grappling with the effects of a shrinking tax base, a growing labor shortage, and an economy no longer powered by heavy industry. To be sure, recent investments in commercial projects such as UPMC Park, major apartment renovations, expansions to the children’s museum, and many other projects are helping to stimulate the economy and transform the downtown landscape. At the same time, however, we need to change the landscape in more fundamental ways to encourage young families to put down roots here. That will be a top priority for the delegation in Read more

 

Longietti: Area hospitals receiving more than $1.6 million for recruitment, retention, critical resources

(Mar 24, 2022)

HERMITAGE, March 24 – Two hospitals in the 7th Legislative District are receiving nearly $1.65 million in federal funding to help address staffing shortages and replenish resources drained by the pandemic, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced today. Longietti said the money, which comes from $225 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding, includes $962,517 to Sharon Regional Health System and $684,982 to UPMC Horizon. “During the worst of the pandemic, our community’s frontline health care workers worked around the clock to save lives, despite incredibly stressful conditions,” Longietti said. “The funding coming to our community hospitals should help ease the strain by funding recruitment and retention efforts and the purchase of additional critical resources.” The money is part of Act 2 of 2022, legislation that appropriated $225 million to support the following health care areas: $100 million to be distributed to acute care, critical access and children’s hospitals licensed by the Department of Health on a per-bed basis. The funding will be used strictly for recruitment and retention payments to direct care staff. $110 million to be distributed on a per-bed basis to high-Medical Assistance hospitals, designated Critical Access Hospitals, and inpatient and residential behavioral health facilities for recruitment and retention payments to key staff. $15 million Read more

 

Sainato: Area hospitals receiving more than $400,000 for pandemic relief

(Mar 24, 2022)

NEW CASTLE, March 24 – Area hospitals are receiving more than $400,000 in federal funding to restore resources and personnel exhausted by the pandemic, state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence, announced today. Sainato said the money – which comes from $225 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding he and other lawmakers helped allocate – includes $408,677 to UPMC Jameson. “Our community’s health care workers remained on the front lines resolutely during the pandemic, continuing to care for patients despite overworked, understaffed conditions,” Sainato said. “Securing this funding is going to help bring critical reinforcements to ease their burden and ensure our community’s patients continue receiving the excellent care they deserve.” The money is part of Act 2 of 2022, legislation that appropriated $225 million to support the following health care areas: $100 million to be distributed to acute care, critical access and children’s hospitals licensed by the Department of Health on a per-bed basis. The funding will be used strictly for recruitment and retention payments to direct care staff. $110 million to be distributed on a per-bed basis to high-Medical Assistance hospitals, designated Critical Access Hospitals, and inpatient and residential behavioral health facilities for recruitment and retention payments to key staff. $15 million to quadruple the funds available for the Read more

 

Merski resumes EMTA senior bus pass program

(Mar 24, 2022)

ERIE, March 24 – The return of a popular program offered by state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, will make it easier for Erie seniors to “ride the e for free,” Merski announced today at a news conference with Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Jeremy Peterson. Merski said a combination of factors prompted him to resume the program, which provides seniors who visit his 3901 Liberty St. office same-day service in applying for and obtaining the Senior Citizen Transit Identification cards that allow residents 65 or older to ride any EMTA bus for free. “The pandemic kept some seniors home and discouraged others from using mass transit more than strictly necessary,” Merski said. “Now, with more folks vaccinated and COVID-19 posing less of a severe threat, we’re anticipating seeing more seniors return to riding the bus more regularly – especially as gas prices continue to rise. “Our bus pass program will provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ in which seniors can obtain an application, receive any help they need completing it, and get their Senior ID card issued – all in one visit to our office. I encourage anyone who is eligible for a pass but does not yet have one to stop by.” “EMTA is proud to partner again with Representative Merski on this,” Peterson said. “We fully support efforts like this that facilitate easy access Read more

 

Harkins, Merski announce more than $6.6 million to area health care centers

(Mar 23, 2022)

ERIE, March 23 – Erie hospitals and behavioral healthcare centers strained by the pandemic will be receiving more than $6.6 million in federal funding to replenish resources and fund recruitment and retention efforts, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding, which represents Erie’s share of $225 million in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan Act, will provide critical reinforcements to healthcare workers who have remained on the front lines throughout the pandemic. “The pandemic showed us the heroic side of so many Erie workers, and our healthcare workers are a shining example of that,” Harkins said. “Incredibly dedicated frontline medical personnel have been working tirelessly through extreme challenges, and they need reinforcements. This funding is going to allow Erie hospitals and care providers deliver those reinforcements by funding recruitment and retention of staff and other critical resources.” Merski said, “Staffing shortages have not only strained our health care resources but can affect patient care. Securing this funding brings relief to frontline workers and also helps ensure that Erie residents continue receiving the dedicated level of health care they deserve.” The funding includes the following: LECOM Health Corry Memorial Hospital -- $118,100 Millcreek Community Hospital Read more

 

Rep. Sainato's Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Newsletter

(Mar 18, 2022)

Rep. Sainato's Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Newsletter Read more

 

Rep. Chris Sainato's Senior Update newsletter

(Mar 18, 2022)

Rep. Chris Sainato's "Senior News" Newsletter Read more

 

Longietti, Sainato announce $45,000 digital literacy grant

(Mar 18, 2022)

HARRISBURG, March 18 – A $45,000 grant from the state Department of Labor and Industry will help job seekers in Mercer and Lawrence counties develop important tech skills, state Reps. Mark Longietti and Chris Sainato announced today. The lawmakers said West Central Job Partnership will use the Digital Literacy and Workforce Development Grant to teach job seekers how to search for jobs online and use digital platforms, making them more attractive to prospective employers. “Digital literacy – the ability to find, use and communicate information using digital technology – is a critical skill in the modern workforce,” said Longietti, D-Mercer. “Knowing how to navigate online platforms is key to searching for good jobs – and often key to getting good jobs, as more and more businesses that rely on the internet to remain competitive are demanding a digitally literate workforce. The training funded by this grant will help job seekers develop those skills.” Sainato, D-Lawrence, said, “The grant is going to fund eight eight-week, in-person sessions of intensive training to help people with low levels of digital literacy improve those tech skills. Although the program will actively recruit some people – such as residents without a secondary diploma/GED and folks coming from re-entry programs – the classes will be open to everyone and should open doors to greater opportunities.” The Read more

 

Merski: Bosnian Islamic Community Erie receiving $25,000 security grant
Apr 14, 2022

Merski, Harkins: New construction projects coming to region
Apr 13, 2022

Merski joins colleagues to promote blight-fighting bills headed for House chamber
Apr 12, 2022

Harkins joins labor officials at state Capitol to push for public worker protections
Apr 11, 2022

Longietti: Area child care providers receiving more than $2.2 million to stabilize operations
Apr 11, 2022

Merski introduces legislation to help startup businesses hurt by COVID-19
Apr 11, 2022

Harkins, Merski: Gannon, Penn State Behrend students’ research projects to share in $2.3 million in grant funding
Apr 08, 2022

Sainato: Area child care providers receiving nearly $2.3 million in federal funding to stabilize operations
Apr 07, 2022

Merski, Harkins announce more than $8.3 million to Erie child care centers
Apr 06, 2022

Merski resolution urges greater U.S. involvement to aid Ukrainian refugees
Apr 01, 2022

Sainato: New aluminum extrusion facility coming to New Castle
Mar 31, 2022

Sainato urges residents to apply for FEMA COVID-19 funeral assistance
Mar 28, 2022

Collaborating for progress
Mar 28, 2022

Longietti: Area hospitals receiving more than $1.6 million for recruitment, retention, critical resources
Mar 24, 2022

Sainato: Area hospitals receiving more than $400,000 for pandemic relief
Mar 24, 2022

Merski resumes EMTA senior bus pass program
Mar 24, 2022

Harkins, Merski announce more than $6.6 million to area health care centers
Mar 23, 2022

Rep. Sainato's Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee Newsletter
Mar 18, 2022

Rep. Chris Sainato's Senior Update newsletter
Mar 18, 2022

Longietti, Sainato announce $45,000 digital literacy grant
Mar 18, 2022