Harkins appointed Majority Chairman of House Gaming Oversight Committee

(Mar 08, 2023)

HARRISBURG, March 8 – State Rep. Pat Harkins announced today that he has been appointed majority chairman of the PA House Gaming Oversight Committee. “I’m excited to lead the committee because gaming revenue plays such an important role in funding commonwealth projects and programs, from economic development to tax relief,” said Harkins, D-Erie. “At the same time, we need responsible oversight to make sure those funds are invested wisely and also that there are supports in place for treatment and prevention of compulsive gambling, especially as the internet and sports betting have broadened the reach of gaming. “I’ll be working hard as committee chair to ensure that any legislation we advance furthers those goals.” The Gaming Oversight Committee works with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and the Department of Revenue to evaluate bills that affect gaming in Pennsylvania. This includes the kinds of gaming allowed in the commonwealth, as well as rules for casinos and using the proceeds of gaming in Pennsylvania. Harkins previously served as Democratic chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee in the 2017-18 Legislative Session. He then served as Democratic chairman of the House Labor and Industry Committee for two years before returning as Democratic chairman of the Gaming Oversight Committee during the 2021-22 session. Read more

 

Harkins lauds governor’s focus on education, career training, workers

(Mar 07, 2023)

ERIE, March 7 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget address today: “As I listened to the governor outline his budget priorities, several messages resonated with me. The governor spoke about making a significant down payment on equitable public school funding. For decades, Erie students have been forced to compete with fewer resources than students in other parts of the state, all because the state has failed to commit a fair share of funding. I was encouraged to hear the governor recognize the need for a major investment in our public schools and a collective effort to devise a fairer system. “As co-chair of the Early Childhood Education Caucus, I was also reassured to hear the governor speak about the importance of early learning and investment in programs like Pre-K Counts. A recent poll showed nearly all Pennsylvanians believe early education is important and that a majority support greater investments in these programs, which are so essential for giving kids the right start in life. “At the other end of the educational spectrum, the governor outlined plans to invest more in career and tech ed. Erie’s labor force has been shrinking, and we have a growing skills gap we need to address. We can do that by expanding public-private workforce development programs that attract and equip young job seekers. With federal Read more

 

Merski: Governor’s budget priorities will move us forward

(Mar 07, 2023)

HARRISBURG, March 7 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s budget address: “As a former teacher, I was encouraged to hear Gov. Shapiro talk about his commitment to fair education funding. Last year’s historic budget investment in our public schools was a great starting point, but it is going to take a sustained, large-scale investment to achieve the kind of overhaul needed after years of underfunding. “With the recent Commonwealth Court decision declaring Pennsylvania’s public school funding unconstitutional, there can be no clearer mandate: Now is the time to fix Pennsylvania’s public schools and ease the burden on local taxpayers by demanding the state finally make the commitment our students deserve. “Beyond funding for academic resources to level the playing field, other aspects of our schools need attention – many are literally falling apart. I was encouraged to hear the governor speak about the need to repair our aging school buildings. I recently introduced legislation with several colleagues that would make it possible for school districts to address hazards like poor ventilation, peeling paint, leaky roofs, structural defects and other problems posed by dilapidated facilities. “The governor also expressed his commitment to increasing funding for community revitalization, and I strongly support this aspect Read more

 

Burns named majority chair of Professional Licensure Committee

(Mar 07, 2023)

Will use leadership position to encourage economic development, consumer protection Read more

 

Conklin: Shapiro budget will make key investments for PA

(Mar 07, 2023)

Says education, environment key to commonwealth’s future Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $900,000 secured to support area business

(Mar 03, 2023)

ERIE, March 3 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins today announced $896,000 in new grant funding to expand support for Erie businesses served by the Innovation Beehive Network – a partnership among Erie universities and the Erie County Public Library that provides specialized services to area businesses and entrepreneurs. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding – awarded by the Erie County Gaming Revenue Authority – includes $200,000 each to Edinboro University Foundation, Gannon University, Mercyhurst University and Penn State University and $96,000 to Erie Regional Library Foundation. “Erie’s reputation as a favorable business destination has been expanding nationally thanks in part to innovative partnerships like the Beehive Network, which provide specialized services to help young businesses grow,” Merski said. “The network already has a track record of success thanks to the talented folks involved. Today’s funding will help it continue to grow so it can attract and serve more businesses.” Harkins said, “Our library and universities have amazing resources and talented people committed to this network. I’m excited about today’s funding, which is going to enhance those resources and strengthen the collaborative as a whole. Like all startups, the young businesses served by the beehive face special financial and logistical Read more

 

Merski: Our schools are falling apart, here's one thing we can do about it

(Mar 02, 2023)

Kids can’t learn – and teachers can’t teach – in rundown buildings. My colleagues and I are introducing legislation to remedy that. Read more

 

Merski, fellow lawmakers announce legislation to invest in school facilities

(Mar 01, 2023)

HARRISBURG, March 1 – State Reps. Bob Merski, D-Erie; Elizabeth Fiedler, D-Phila.; Bridget Kosierowski, D-Lackawanna, and Tarik Khan, D-Phila., today partnered with state Sen. Tim Kearney, D-Delaware, to announce legislation addressing toxic school buildings in Pennsylvania. Gathered outside the lieutenant governor’s office, Merski, Fiedler, Kosierowski and Khan said they plan to introduce legislation to fund the school construction program PlanCon to address the school facilities crisis in Pennsylvania. The lawmakers’ legislation would fund the maintenance program within the traditional PlanCon program for vital projects including repairs to roofs, HVAC systems, boilers, plumbing and electrical wiring . Under the legislation, the lawmakers propose opening applications only to the new Maintenance Program created under Act 70 for a temporary 3-year period. After this period, the Department of Education would re-open the program for traditional PlanCon projects, with the Maintenance Program returning to its 20% share of available funding. The lawmakers announced they are also introducing another piece of legislation to address toxic school buildings. This legislation would make changes to the commonwealth’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to make it easier for public schools to submit applications for building improvements. Their Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Erie County Public Library secures $41,608 grant

(Feb 24, 2023)

ERIE, Feb. 24 – A new state grant of $41,608 will fund improvements to the Erie County Public Library, state Reps. Bob Merski, and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding was awarded under the Keystone Grants for Library Facilities, which is administered by the state Department of Education. “Our Erie Public Library serves the community in so many ways,” Merski said. “Beyond the books, it’s a place where neighbors can connect for events and classes, where kids are inspired by the power of storytelling and where residents with limited access can find the resources they need. I’m thrilled we were able to help secure more funding for this essential Erie resource.” Harkins said, “Every new investment in our library helps ensure that this amazing community center can keep its door open to the students, families and neighbors who have come to rely on it. It brings us together, and we need to ensure that it remains the powerful resource it is.” The grant is part of a package of more than $4 million in competitive grants to 21 public libraries statewide funded through the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund. The state Department of Education administers the public library portion of this program, which is funded from a portion of the state’s realty transfer tax. Grants pay up to 50% of Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Mercyhurst Prep awarded state school safety grant

(Feb 10, 2023)

Grants can be used to fund safety equipment, programs Read more

 

Merski to host unclaimed property ‘Treasure Hunts’ Feb. 13-15

(Feb 09, 2023)

ERIE, Feb. 7 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced that he will host unclaimed property “Treasure Hunts” beginning the week of Monday, Feb. 13 to help residents throughout the district find out if they have unclaimed property waiting for them at the state Treasury. “Each year, the Treasury receives millions of dollars in unclaimed property, but most folks who have property waiting for them aren’t even aware of it,” Merski said. “Next week, I am hosting a series of unclaimed property ‘Treasure Hunts’ at my satellite offices to help folks find out if they are among the one in 10 Pennsylvanians with unclaimed property.” Merski said the events will be held at the following locations and times: Greene satellite office, 9333 Tate Road 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Monday, Feb. 13 Harborcreek satellite office, 5601 Buffalo Road 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 14 Summit satellite office, 1230 Townhall Road West Noon – 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 15 District office, 3901 Liberty St. Anytime, on a walk-in basis or by appointment The events are free, and no registration is required. Merski said that if residents are unable to make it to an event, they can also call his office at 814-455-6319, and staff can help them over the phone. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins laud school fair funding decision

(Feb 08, 2023)

ERIE, Feb. 8 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, issued the following statements in response to Tuesday’s landmark decision by Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer declaring Pennsylvania’s public school funding system unconstitutional. “Tuesday’s decision promises to be a game changer for public school funding in Pennsylvania,” Merski said. “I saw firsthand the inequity from district to district in my two decades in education. For years, our state system underfunded school districts, forcing local property owners to pick up the tab. “Affluent areas and growing communities paid the difference for quality schools, but it left thousands of students in landlocked and less affluent districts like Iroquois and Erie at a huge disadvantage. This week’s ruling declaring the state funding system unconstitutional is a mandate to provide equity across the entire system – and a huge victory for families and students across Pennsylvania.” Harkins said, “Education is supposed to be the great equalizer, but for years, Erie students and families have known a very different reality, thanks to a system that has left our public schools grossly underfunded and our taxpayers footing the bill for that broken system. “Tuesday’s decision opens the door to change all that. Now, we take up the gauntlet and Read more

 

Harkins, Merski congratulate local fire, EMS companies on grants

(Feb 06, 2023)

ERIE, Feb. 3 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins today congratulated local fire and EMS companies who were selected to receive more than $240,000 in state funding. “This funding is going to help ensure our first responders have the equipment and training they need to stay safe and continue their lifesaving work,” Merski said. “Funding can be extremely tight for departments, and I am glad we were able to secure these dollars to get more resources into the hands of those who protect us.” Harkins said, “Our firefighters put their lives on the line for us every single day, and the work can be extremely stressful and dangerous. It’s my hope that this funding will make their work just a little safer.” Grants awarded locally included: Department Fire / EMS City Awarded Amount Belle Valley Fire Dept. Fire Erie $14,317.55 Brookside Vol. Fire Co. Fire Erie $14,317.55 Brookside Vol. Fire Co. EMS Erie $10,000 City of Erie Fire Dept. Fire Erie $15,000 Emergycare Inc. EMS Erie $10,000 Kearsarge Fire Dept. Fire Erie $13,826.29 Kuhl Hose Company Inc. EMS Erie $10,000 uhl Hose Company Inc. Fire Erie $15,000 Lake Shore Fire Dept. EMS Erie $3,000 Lake Shore Fire Dept. Fire Erie $12,598.14 Lawrence Park Vol. Fire Read more

 

Merski bills would cut government spending, boost transparency, fight blight

(Feb 02, 2023)

ERIE, Feb. 2 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is garnering support for a slate of bills designed to improve government efficiency and accountability, fight blight and help seniors and military families. “We should always be looking for ways to make government run more efficiently, and one way we can do that is through legislation that reduces unnecessary spending, eliminates waste and increases accountability,” Merski said. “My bills would help do that by reducing costs to municipalities for some items, making sure government operations are as transparent as possible and studying where money is going.” Merski said he is currently seeking co-sponsorship of bills that would: Create a program for selling used state police pursuit vehicles directly to local and regional police departments at a fixed price prior to any public auction. Require the state to conduct a new cost-benefit analysis to determine whether an early-retirement proposal for some state pension plan participants would help save costs. Require political subdivisions and municipal authorities to maintain publicly accessible websites with contact and other information to make their operations more open and accessible. Establish a grant program that would make it easier for municipalities to enforce code violations and fight blight. Merski said several other bills would help seniors on fixed incomes by excluding Social Security cost-of-living increases for Read more

 

Merski, Harkins offer statement on death of EMT Michael Harrington

(Feb 02, 2023)

ERIE, Feb. 2 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to news that EmergyCare EMT Michael Harrington died unexpectedly yesterday: “It is always heartbreaking to hear about the loss of a first responder,” Merski said. “Michael’s death is a somber reminder of the stresses and risks these workers face every day and that it’s our job, as public officials, to ensure they have the best possible resources. “I hope Michael’s loved ones can find some solace in knowing that he lived a life devoted to caring for and protecting others.” Harkins said: “I was saddened to hear about Michael Harrington’s death yesterday. Although most of us realize that emergency response work can be dangerous and stressful, we also want to believe that those who willingly shoulder those burdens are invincible. My deepest sympathy to Michael’s family, the Greenville community and the entire team at EmergyCare, who lost one of their own yesterday.” Harrington worked for EmergyCare’s Greenville division. Gov. Josh Shapiro has ordered U.S. and Pennsylvania state flags in Erie and Mercer counties to be flown at half-staff. More on that order is available here: https://www.governor.pa.gov/newsroom/governor-shapiro-orders-us-commonwealth-flags-to-half-staff-in-honor-of-erie-county-emt/ Read more

 

Merski to launch two new satellite offices

(Jan 19, 2023)

ERIE, Jan. 19 – State Rep. Bob Merski announced today that he will be opening new satellite offices this month in Greene and Harborcreek townships. Merski, D-Erie, said the new offices – which will open the week of Jan. 23 – will make services more accessible to residents living farther from the city. “When our district lines changed, we welcomed many new residents from different parts of the county,” Merski said. “It’s my hope that the new satellite locations opening in Greene and Harborcreek townships, together with the existing satellite office in Summit, will make accessing services more convenient for folks throughout the district.” The locations and operating hours for all three satellite offices are: Greene Township: 9333 Tate Road, Erie, PA 16509, open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays. Harborcreek Township: 5601 Buffalo Road, Harborcreek, PA 16421, open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Summit Township: 1230 Townhall Road West, Erie, PA 16509, open from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesdays. Merski said all his offices are available on a walk-in basis during operating hours but that residents wishing to avoid potential wait times can schedule an appointment at any of the offices by calling his 3901 Liberty St. district office at 814-455-6319. Read more

 

Harkins clarifies requirements for voters on annual mail-in ballot list

(Jan 18, 2023)

ERIE, Jan. 18 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, is reminding residents on the state’s annual mail-in ballot list that they must still officially apply for mail-in or absentee ballots each year in order to receive them from the state. “There is some confusion regarding the state’s annual mail-in ballot list,” Harkins said. “We get a lot of folks asking, ‘If I am already on the list, do I still need to reapply for a ballot every year?’ The answer is yes. “Every February, voters who are on the annual mail-in ballot list will receive a form from the state asking if they want to continue voting by mail or absentee ballot in the year ahead. A voter who wants to continue using the mail option should complete the form and send it back. Once the state receives and processes the form, the voter will automatically receive ballots for all 2023 elections. “For voters who decide they want to vote in person, the form also contains an option allowing voters to cancel their annual mail voter status and be removed from the list.” Harkins said more information – including how to become an annual mail voter – is available by visiting www.vote.pa.gov and scrolling down to the link titled “Annual Mail-in Voter List.” Read more

 

Harkins: Completion of OSHA workplace feasibility study ‘a step in the right direction’

(Jan 13, 2023)

ERIE, Jan. 13 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement in response to news that the state has completed a feasibility study on extending Occupational Safety and Health Act workplace standards to Pennsylvania’s public-sector workers. “Today’s news is extremely encouraging, because it is a concrete step toward finally bringing Pennsylvania’s thousands of public-sector employees the protections they deserve. “For decades, public-sector employees – from maintenance workers to mechanics to public transportation workers and so many others– have faced unnecessary risks on the job simply because the state does not require public employers to abide by the same OSHA safety standards as private companies. “In many cases, public workers are doing the same kinds of jobs with the same dedication and the same expectations of safety. Yet for years, they have suffered unnecessary injuries because their job sites are not as safe. “Jake Schwab – an Erie public transit mechanic – was one of those workers. Jake died because the equipment he needed was unavailable at his workplace, leading to a fatal explosion. In nearly a decade since his death, more public workers have died or been injured unnecessarily. “While I am hopeful that completion of this study is a step in the right direction, I hope the state will move quickly to implement these critical protections, which I call Read more

 

Conklin: $2.4M in state funding to help replace State College stormwater infrastructure

(Jan 13, 2023)

STATE COLLEGE, Jan. 13 – State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, announced today approximately $2.4 million in state funding to replace the aging stormwater system along Calder Way in State College. Conklin said the $2.44 million low-interest loan will allow the State College Borough to replace pipes that compromise the outdated infrastructure, which is currently preventing stormwater from properly entering the wastewater collection system – leading to unsafe inflow and infiltration issues. “In its current state, this infrastructure could lead to a dangerous sinkhole developing at any time,” Conklin said. “Upgrading it will also improve the quality of the water that deposits into the Spring Creek Watershed.” With the loan provided by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, commonly known as Pennvest , the State College Borough plans to begin work on the project on May 1, with an anticipated completion date in September. Approximately 1,320 feet of stormwater piping and other components will be replaced, allowing the system’s drainage area to work properly. The interest rate for the first five years of the 20-year loan is 1.74%, and 2.18% after that. Pennvest funds sewer, stormwater, and drinking water improvement projects throughout the commonwealth via low-cost funds and grants. In addition to safeguarding the health of Pennsylvania residents, these projects Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $3.3 million loan secured to rehabilitate Erie’s aging stormwater systems

(Jan 12, 2023)

ERIE, Jan. 12 – A $3.3 million low-interest loan from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority will allow the city of Erie to rehabilitate the Garrison Run and McDannell Run stormwater systems, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. "The Garrison Run stormwater infrastructure is at the end of its useful life and recently suffered a catastrophic failure, creating a sinkhole that damaged a nearby residence,” Harkins said. “Securing the new funding to allow the city to upgrade both the Garrison Run and McDannell Run systems will help safeguard public health and safety and also eliminate the risk of future property damage.” “We are constantly looking for ways to improve infrastructure in Erie County, and upgrading our decades-old stormwater systems is a major priority,” Merski said. “The new loan funding will allow the city to make major upgrades to the Garrison Run and McDannell Run systems to ensure that this critical infrastructure serving nearly 40,000 residents is in safe working order.” The lawmakers said the first stage of the project will involve relining sections of the Garrison Run’s original 96-inch piping with at least 2,700 feet of invert shotcrete; creating connections to 54 in-feeds, 7 manholes and other appurtenances; and repairing an existing concrete headwall located at the discharge Read more

 

Harkins appointed Majority Chairman of House Gaming Oversight Committee
Mar 08, 2023

Harkins lauds governor’s focus on education, career training, workers
Mar 07, 2023

Merski: Governor’s budget priorities will move us forward
Mar 07, 2023

Burns named majority chair of Professional Licensure Committee
Mar 07, 2023

Conklin: Shapiro budget will make key investments for PA
Mar 07, 2023

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $900,000 secured to support area business
Mar 03, 2023

Merski: Our schools are falling apart, here's one thing we can do about it
Mar 02, 2023

Merski, fellow lawmakers announce legislation to invest in school facilities
Mar 01, 2023

Merski, Harkins: Erie County Public Library secures $41,608 grant
Feb 24, 2023

Harkins, Merski: Mercyhurst Prep awarded state school safety grant
Feb 10, 2023

Merski to host unclaimed property ‘Treasure Hunts’ Feb. 13-15
Feb 09, 2023

Merski, Harkins laud school fair funding decision
Feb 08, 2023

Harkins, Merski congratulate local fire, EMS companies on grants
Feb 06, 2023

Merski bills would cut government spending, boost transparency, fight blight
Feb 02, 2023

Merski, Harkins offer statement on death of EMT Michael Harrington
Feb 02, 2023

Merski to launch two new satellite offices
Jan 19, 2023

Harkins clarifies requirements for voters on annual mail-in ballot list
Jan 18, 2023

Harkins: Completion of OSHA workplace feasibility study ‘a step in the right direction’
Jan 13, 2023

Conklin: $2.4M in state funding to help replace State College stormwater infrastructure
Jan 13, 2023

Harkins, Merski: $3.3 million loan secured to rehabilitate Erie’s aging stormwater systems
Jan 12, 2023