HARRISBURG, May 31 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, today announced the award of a $7,114 grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission to the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum. Harkins said the Cultural and Historical Support Grant comes from a five-year-old program designed to strengthen Pennsylvania’s museum community, by supporting general operations of eligible museums and official county historical societies not supported by other state agency funding. “I’m pleased to see an important Erie County organization like ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum receive a share of this available state funding,” Harkins said. “This nonprofit organization has been a fixture in the historic cultural district of Erie’s downtown for two decades, providing children and families a fun and educational experience that includes math, science, art, culture, literacy and health.” The maximum any museum could receive under the program is $50,000, Harkins said. Harkins noted that the grants are available only to: Museums located in Pennsylvania with annual operating budgets exceeding $100,000 (excluding capital and in-kind services) and at least one full-time professional staff person. Official county historical societies designated as the official historical society for the county. Read more
ERIE, May 11 – The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation today announced a number of grants to maintain and upgrade traffic signals along state and local highways. State Reps. Patrick Harkins and Flo Fabrizio, both D-Erie, report that the traffic signal at the intersection of East Lake Road and Bacon Avenue will be upgraded and pedestrian walk signals will be installed, thanks to a grant of more than $244,000. As part of the grant program, 20 percent of the project cost, or just over $61,000 will be the responsibility of the local community. The Green Light-Go Municipal Signal Partnership Program was established under Act 89 of 2013. The grants may be used for traffic studies, removal of unneeded traffic signals, replacement of signals with LED lights and retiming signals to improve traffic flow and safety. "We have been working on traffic flow issues for years," Harkins said. "Upgrading the light at this intersection and updating the timing sequence will make the road more convenient for drivers and safer for pedestrians. I have been working with others in Harrisburg on Erie traffic signal upgrades ever since Governor Rendell was in office." The grant announced today was one of more than 90 being presented statewide, worth a total of $33 million. "I look forward to the completion of this long-overdue project," Harkins said. ### Read more
HARRISBURG, April 26 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, held a Capitol news conference this afternoon to announce the reintroduction of legislation he authored in direct response to the workplace accident and death of a Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority employee in 2014. House Bill 1082, the Jake Schwab Worker's Safety Bill, was first introduced in 2015 in memory of Erie resident Jake Schwab, a mechanic with EMTA who lost his life due to a workplace incident in November 2014. As a public transit authority, EMTA is exempted from OSHA regulations, so the details regarding the incident and any safety concerns that would have been raised through an OSHA review have been hard to track. Harkins pointed out that following the accident, Schwab’s family, and especially his widow, Tiffany, had to battle to receive any information on the accident, because under current law, "the insurance industry controls the investigation. Tiffany has been a real inspiration to me," he said. William Dando, legislative director, AFSCME Council 13, Harrisburg, highlighted the five states that have established OSHA-like protection for their public employees: Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey and New York. "Creating an OSHA state plan for public employees is the right thing to do," Dando said. "We need to stop treating public employees like second-class citizens." Rick Bloomingdale, president of the Read more
ERIE, March 8 – The importance and benefits of biodiesel fuels, wind power and solar power in the state’s renewable energy portfolio was a key feature of today’s House Democratic Policy Committee hearing at SB3, requested by state Rep. Patrick Harkins. Harkins, D-Erie, asked for the hearing as a means for the public and legislators to gather insight on how to smoothly manage integration of renewables into the energy mix, while maximizing the burgeoning industry’s job-creation potential. “One thing that’s certain regarding our energy future is that demand is going to continue growing, which means there’s room at the power-generation table for long-established sources, as well as relatively new ones,” Harkins said. “We must make sure that the Erie area, as well as the state, does not miss out on any opportunity that could have a positive economic impact.” State Rep. Mike Sturla, D-Lancaster, the Policy Committee chairman who co-chaired the public hearing with Harkins, said the gathered testimony will be valuable in crafting meaningful state legislation. “Representative Harkins hosted a great hearing on how we can better utilize renewable energy sources,” Sturla said. “Renewable energy sources have the potential to create jobs and are less of a burden on our environment. Hearing from industry experts provided a greater understanding of how we can move forward to support these efforts.” Read more
ERIE, Feb. 22 – The Pennsylvania Department of Aging announced a number of senior community center grants this afternoon. State Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie, reports that the John F. Kennedy Senior Center will receive $129,239 for capital improvements. "I am thrilled to announce this grant to such an important part of our senior community," Harkins said. "This grant will allow the center to take care of long-overdue maintenance and upgrades, which have been bypassed so that the center could focus the majority of its funds on the critical programs they provide." The grant money will be used for a seven-part project that is expected to run from this September through April, 2018. The initial phase will upgrade the freezer, cooler and ice-maker for the kitchen. Future improvements include renovating the men's and women's gym restrooms to bring them in to ADA compliance, leveling and replacing the tile floor in the gymnasium, replacing some carpeting and re-doing some walls. The final part of the project, currently scheduled for next April, is the purchase and installation of an outdoor L.E.D. JFK Senior Center sign. "I look forward to the completion of these improvements and the long-term benefits for our senior community," Harkins said. ### Read more
State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, have co-sponsored legislation ( H.B. 34 ), that would restore the full $57.5 million to reopen unemployment call centers and bring back all furloughed jobs. “People need their unemployment benefits to pay the mortgage, buy food and just to survive,” Bizzarro said. “Every day I am hearing from frustrated constituents who are spending upwards of six weeks, calling hundreds of times trying to get through to the call centers. The call center situation needs to be fixed fast because these people need their money.” "This has been a devastating problem for the entire state, affecting people in Erie and everywhere ,” Harkins said. “Our unemployed, who need the financial assistance to get by, are struggling to get their claims processed in a timely manner. We need to fix this immediately.” Bizzarro said House Labor and Industry and Appropriations committee hearings are scheduled. “How long can the state continue to operate under these circumstances by literally stringing along claimants?” Bizzarro said. Bizzarro said the legislation has bipartisan support in the House. Read more
HARRISBURG, Jan. 3 – State Rep. Patrick Harkins, D-Erie, was sworn in today to a sixth term in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. The swearing-in ceremony in the House chamber marked the beginning of the 201st legislative session. The state constitution mandates that the legislature convene at noon on the first Tuesday of January each year. The state House is scheduled to return to voting session in Harrisburg on Jan. 23. Harkins will renew his push for legislation to provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration job safety protection to public workers. The need for this legislation was inspired by Jake Schwab, a mechanic with the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority, who lost his life due to a workplace incident in 2014. "I will keep up the fight to protect our public employees while they are on the job," Harkins said. "It is unbelievable to me that public employees have less protection than private employees. "I will also continue to work with state Representatives Flo Fabrizio, Ryan Bizzarro and Curt Sonney to provide the necessary funding for the Erie School District. We have had extensive discussions with House Republican leadership and have communicated with the governor about the dire situation facing our students." Harkins' constituent service office is located at 460 E. 26th St. in Erie and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The telephone number is (814) 459-1949 . He can be Read more
Supporters came from across Pennsylvania for a hearing and rally on the Jake Schwab Worker's Safety Bill, introduced by Pa. state Rep. Pat Harkins. Schwab was killed while working for the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority. Harkins was shocked to find out that public sector employees are not protected by the same OSHA regulations that private sector companies are required to meet, and has introduced legislation to change that. Read more
HARRISBURG, Sept. 14 – Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, participated in a news conference this afternoon rallying support for H.B. 1082, which Harkins introduced last year. House Bill 1082, the Jake Schwab Worker's Safety Bill, was introduced in memory of Erie resident Jake Schwab, a mechanic with the Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority, who lost his life due to a workplace incident in November 2014. As a public transit authority, EMTA is exempted from Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations, so the details regarding the incident and any safety concerns that would have been raised through an OSHA review have been hard to track. Harkins' bill would provide on-the-job safety protection to public employees by establishing OSHA-equivalent safety rules for public employers, including the commonwealth, all legal political subdivisions, public schools, transit systems and any nonprofit organizations currently exempt from OSHA standards. "What cost do you put on life," Harkins asked. "Going forward, there will be many opportunities for others to weigh in and make this a perfect bill. But I don't want to forget Jake Schwab. He was the impetus for this bill." The news conference followed a public hearing in Harrisburg of more than two hours, which was held by the House Labor and Industry Committee. The bill is currently under consideration in the committee. ### Read more
As members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and as Catholics, we voted in favor of H.B. 1947. We stand by that vote. And we are disappointed by Archbishop Charles Chaput and seven other Pennsylvania bishops' June 6th letter to all parishes – including our own – arguing for the protection of church assets and dollars over justice for the victims of child sexual abuse – and for attempting to cast our vote as an attack on the church. Instead, we believe that church leaders should have the opposite reaction to the decades’ long record of ghastly sexual abuse of thousands of Pennsylvania children – as partially detailed in the three Philadelphia grand jury reports and the more recent 147-page Altoona-Johnstown grand jury report. We agree with the introduction to the Altoona-Johnstown report that says: “This is not an indictment of the Catholic religion or the Catholic Church…This is a finding of fact and an effort at transparency – not to slander a religion but to expose the truth about the men who hijacked it for their own grotesque desires.” House Bill 1947 would remove the statute of limitations for the crime of sexual abuse of children – and extend the statute of limitations for civil claims for sexual abuse of children from age 30 until that victim turns 50. We know that many victims will never come forward and many others do not come forward for decades. Reporting is a deeply personal Read more
Forms for Pennsylvania’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program for the 2015 tax year are available at my district office – and my staff is ready to help you file yours for free ! The rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians 65 or older, widows and widowers 50 or older, and people with disabilities 18 or older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Half of Social Security income is excluded and the maximum standard rebate is $650. Claimants must reapply for rebates every year because they are based on annual income and property taxes or rent paid each year. Spouses, personal representatives or estates may file rebate claims on behalf of deceased claimants who lived at least one day in 2015 and meet all other eligibility criteria. The oft-extended deadline to apply for a rebate on property taxes or rent paid in 2015 is June 30, 2016, and the rebates normally are distributed by the Deparment of Revenue beginning July 1. So, the sooner you file, the sooner you will receive your money. Read more
PACE, PACENET and PACE plus Medicare are Pennsylvania's prescription assistance programs for older adults, offering low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older. As of this year, the legislature passed a law excluding Social Security Medicare Part B premiums from being counted towards income levels. Read more
Pennsylvania has a Children's Health Insurance Program that provides free and low-cost health insurance to children. CHIP is not welfare – it covers children of working parents whose employers don't offer coverage and who can't afford private insurance. If you can't afford health insurance for your children, chances are they are eligible for CHIP. Read more
Each year, the Pennsylvania Treasury receives millions of dollars of unclaimed property. It is estimated that roughly one in 10 Pennsylvanians has unclaimed property. Read more
In Pennsylvania, you can choose the company that generates your electricity – also known as your electric supplier. This means that you have the power to switch to a competing supplier who can offer the lowest price, or provide a specific service you want, such as “green” or renewable energy. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Pat Harkins says that he and his House Democratic colleagues are in the State Capitol ready to pass a budget and calls upon the House Speaker to bring the House back into session to work until the budget process is complete. Read more
Pa. state Rep. Pat Harkins talks about why he is against legislative stunts that House Republicans are resorting to instead of negotiating a complete and responsible budget. Read more
HARRISBURG, April 28 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, held a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda this morning to introduce legislation he authored in direct response to the workplace accident and death of a Erie Metropolitan Transit Authority employee last fall. H.B. 1082, the Jake Schwab Worker's Safety Bill, was introduced in memory of Erie resident Jake Schwab, a mechanic with EMTA who lost his life due to a workplace incident in November. As a public transit authority, EMTA is exempted from OSHA regulations, so the details regarding the incident and any safety concerns that would have been raised through an OSHA review have been hard to track. "Under my bill, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry would have the authority to perform workplace safety inspections and levy fines," Harkins said. "Because this accident was with a public transit authority, a private insurance company handled the investigation and the records are private." The Harkins bill would provide on-the-job safety protection to public employees by establishing Occupational Safety and Health Administration-equivalent safety rules for public employers, including the commonwealth, all legal political subdivisions, public schools, transit systems and any nonprofit organizations currently exempt from the OSHA standards. Schwab's widow, Tiffany, expressed her family's support for the legislation, saying," Don't you expect your loved ones to Read more
Requested by state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, the House Democratic Policy Committee held a public hearing today on Gov. Tom Wolf’s education funding proposal to collect input from local school superintendents and a fair education funding advocate.
“House Democrats and I believe the key to a better future starts with a solid education that requires a stronger investment from the state,” Harkins said. “Hearing the testimonies of our local superintendents brings the need for, not only more funding, but also a fair funding formula into clear focus.”
State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, today announced the agenda for the House Democratic Policy Committee public hearing on education funding in Pennsylvania. The hearing will be held at 4 p.m. Monday, March 23 at the Barber National Institute, 100 Barber Place (136 East Ave.), Erie.
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