Harkins: House unanimously adopts ‘Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Appreciation Day’

(Sep 02, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 2 – The PA House of Representatives today unanimously adopted a resolution declaring Sept. 7, 2020, as Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Appreciation Day, according to state Rep. Pat Harkins who, together with several of his colleagues, introduced the resolution. Harkins, D-Erie, said H.R. 984 highlights the unique ways Lake Erie benefits the Commonwealth. “Those of us who call this region home have a special connection to Lake Erie, which is a huge part of our history and identity,” Harkins said. “We understand the ways this incredible natural resource benefits our area, from jobs, recreational, and educational opportunities to the drinking water it provides. “Through this resolution, my colleagues and I in the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus are hoping to make more Pennsylvanians aware of the ways Lake Erie benefits the entire Commonwealth by bringing millions in tourism, boating and fishing revenue and providing a unique escape for those who have not yet experienced the beauty of the Great Lakes.” The Lake Erie coastal region is home to approximately 250,000 Pennsylvanians and provides more than 3,000 jobs. Key economic contributors include: Presque Isle State Park, which attracts about 4 million visitors who spend nearly $80 million annually. Tourism and recreation industries, which contribute more than $65 million to the state economy. Read more

 

Rep. Pat Harkins' Summer 2020 Newsletter

(Aug 26, 2020)

Rep. Pat Harkins' Summer 2020 Newsletter. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro urge state to expand hazard grants

(Aug 26, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 26 – Saying it creates an unfair situation that arbitrarily rewards some workers but not others, state Reps. Pat Harkins, Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, are calling on officials to revisit the state’s hazard pay grant program, which they claim unfairly excluded thousands of essential workers. In a letter to Dennis Davin, secretary of the state Department of Community and Economic Development, the lawmakers and several other colleagues from the Northwest Democratic Caucus are demanding a new round of grants. “Hazard pay is designed to compensate workers for braving dangerous conditions on the job,” Harkins said. “With the advent of the pandemic, the risks may arise in different ways, but they all amount to the same basic danger: the possibility of contracting a potentially deadly illness. It’s illogical and irresponsible for the state to separate out some workers as more deserving of hazard pay than others.” “Essential workers are just that – essential to the commonwealth,” Bizzarro said. “Whether they are transporting a patient by ambulance, providing nursing care or dispensing a prescription, they are all serving acute needs and, in the process, knowingly exposing themselves to danger. By selectively designating some essential workers as eligible for hazard pay but not others, we are suggesting that some are more deserving than others when nothing Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $44,500 in targeted funding will help underperforming students

(Aug 26, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 26 – A grant of $44,583 will help bring targeted assistance to schools with underperforming students, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding awarded under the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund will go to Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5, the educational service agency serving Erie, Crawford and Warren counties. “As the new school year begins, we like to think every student will be starting from the same place, with the same opportunities,” Merski said. “Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Many traditionally underserved schools – including some here in Erie – have student groups that underperform, and that issue is only compounded by the pandemic. “Just as we have worked to keep all students safe during COVID-19, it’s incumbent on us to ensure that all students have the same opportunities to thrive and advance. The targeted support this funding will provide is a great step in the right direction.” Harkins said, “Successful businesses and industries need a diverse, talented pool of workers to survive, and that can’t happen when significant numbers of students fall behind. This funding is going to help ensure students identified as underperforming have the support they need to flourish. Ultimately, they are our next-generation workforce, and an investment in them is an investment in Read more

 

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Nearly $190,000 to help students with special needs retain crucial skills during pandemic

(Aug 20, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 20 – Funding of $189,895 to six area schools and districts will help ensure Erie students with special needs are not left behind during the pandemic, state Reps. Bob Merski, Pat Harkins and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, announced. “One of the most difficult aspects of the pandemic from a learning standpoint has been the loss of classroom learning,” Merski said. “All students benefit from in-person instruction, but for students with special needs, specifically designed instruction can be essential. This funding will help provide those extra services to ensure students with special needs don’t fall behind and are prepared to tackle the new year with skills intact.” “Our exceptionally dedicated teachers and special education staff are doing what they can to ensure students with special needs don’t fall behind during the pandemic,” Bizzarro said. “Nevertheless, gaps in classroom learning have posed special challenges requiring additional resources. This funding is going to put those resources into educators’ hands so they are able to supplement remote learning with real-time instruction and ensure vulnerable students continue to thrive.” “Inclusion is the key to ensuring our next generation is equipped to face the future and step into good-paying jobs,” Harkins said. “But that means giving all of our students an equal opportunity to advance. When Read more

 

Hazard Pay Grants will help bolster Erie frontline worker pay

(Aug 17, 2020)

Hazard Pay Grants will help bolster Erie frontline worker pay HARRISBURG, Aug. 17 -- Thanks to the COVID-19 PA Hazard Pay Grants, Erie businesses will receive $331,800 to boost pay to front-line workers helping the community through the pandemic announced Erie state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski. The following Erie-based service providers were awarded grants through the program to help boost essential workers’ pay from Aug. 16 through Oct. 24: $183,600 - LifeServices Management Corp., Westlake Woods Assisted Living Community, Southwoods Assisted Living Community, Hawthorne Woods Assisted Living Community, Richland Woods Assisted Living Community, and The Winds at Mattern Orchard Assisted Living Community. $169,440 - The Sarah A. Reed Retirement Center. “These grants will help front-line workers earn a living wage as they jeopardize their, and their family’s, health and safety by going to work, keeping shelves stocked, caring for children, keeping health care facilities clean, transporting our neighbors and more,” Bizzarro said. “Specifically, the workers of Erie’s care facilities have faced many challenges caring for our most at-risk population and their hard work and dedication more than deserves this boost in pay.” “Since the start of the pandemic, assisted living and nursing care workers have shown up day after day – under the Read more

 

Harkins: $1.8 million to help fund major sewer system project

(Aug 17, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 17 – A $1.8 million grant from the Commonwealth Financing Agency will help fund a major improvement to the sanitary sewer system serving residents of eastern Erie County, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, announced today. Harkins said the grant to the Harborcreek Township Sewer Authority – awarded under the CFA’s H20 PA program – will help the authority install a new interceptor – a large line that collects the wastewater from multiple branch lines and transports it to the treatment plant. “I have been working with state Representative Curt Sonney to secure this funding for a long time because this project promises to have a major, long-term impact on the eastern part of Erie County,” Harkins said. “By reducing peak sewage flows at the 5-Mile Pump Station by more than 50%, the new interceptor is going to eliminate wet weather sewer overflows into 5 Mile Creek. “The result will be a wastewater management system that functions more efficiently, experiences fewer overloads and proves less costly to taxpayers in the long run. It’s an investment that goes a long way toward assuring residents and businesses that the proper infrastructure will be there to support them.” Harkins said the project will install nearly 10,000 feet of sewer line that begins at Nagle Road and Iroquois Avenue, runs west along Iroquois Avenue and East Lake Road through Lawrence Park Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: New project to transform Wayne School building will bring jobs, new community resources to Erie

(Aug 14, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 14 – An old building will take on new life as a hub of community resources for Erie residents, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the largely vacant Wayne School building will be transformed into multi-use space, with tenants providing job training, courses, affordable health care and other services. Funding comes from a New Markets Tax Credit transaction of $9.5 million that the Commonwealth Cornerstone Group has completed with the Erie Center for Arts and Technology. “The new center is going to provide services and opportunities that make life easier for residents,” Merski said. “One anchor tenant will be the Wayne Primary Care Clinic operated by Primary Health Network, which offers medical treatment on a sliding scale for low-income patients. “Another anchor tenant – The Erie Center for Arts and Technology – offers adult job training programs and expanded high school classes in photography and digital arts. It’s especially exciting to know that new resources are on the way to help Erie residents develop marketable job skills.” Harkins said, “The project itself is going to offer our community economic benefits in the way of new jobs. The work is expected to create 32 temporary, full-time construction jobs and, after the building is occupied, tenant employers are expected to create 29 jobs and retain 38 jobs paying Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski announce Erie to receive $300K investment for area housing security

(Aug 13, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 13 – State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, D-Erie, today announced that four Erie-based organizations will receive $300,000 in state funding to help local residents with housing costs. “As we navigate this pandemic, housing security is an important part of public safety. These projects will improve access to affordable housing while stimulating our economy. Public-private partnership is an important part of addressing the drastic need for housing that people can afford,” explained Bizzarro. “These funds will go directly to supporting our most vulnerable neighbors and those who care for them.” “Safe, affordable housing has never been more important as our community endures the economic impact of this pandemic,” Harkins said. “This funding is going to help make sure those in our community who are displaced or in danger of becoming homeless will have the security that comes with knowing they have affordable options. It will also assist residents in making necessary repairs and improvements.” “In addition to helping more Erie families find safe, affordable housing, this funding is going to support and improve related social services,” Merski said. “Some of the funding will be used to develop a centralized intake system so housing counselors can serve additional clients, while other funding will go to support our direct care workers who may facing evictions Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $125,000 in funding to ensure all Erie students can access online, remote learning

(Aug 07, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 7 – Erie schools are receiving $125,100 in grant funding to ensure all students have the tools they need to access online and remote learning programs, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding – administered by the state Department of Education through the Continuity of Education and Equity Grant program – includes the following grants: Erie City School District – $45,000 Iroquois School District – $37,850 Perseus House Charter School of Excellence – $24,250 Erie Rise Leadership Academy Charter School – $18,000 “As the pandemic continues and many families remain reluctant to let their students to return to the classroom, remote learning is proving critical to keeping students engaged,” Harkins said. “Unfortunately, it is only effective if students have the tools they need to access the curriculum. This funding is going to help make that happen by allowing our schools to purchase laptops, tablets, mobile hot spots and other resources for students needing them.” Merski said, “Although online learning can’t provide the social and developmental benefits that come with an actual school environment, it’s the best possible resource we have right now to ensure our kids continue learning. But it’s critical that no student gets left behind because they can’t afford the Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $300,000 in funding to help Erie career and technical education resume safely

(Aug 06, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 6 – Erie High School and Erie County Technical School are on track to receive $298,920 in federal funding to help both schools resume instruction while keeping students and staff safe, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The funding – including $182,819 to Erie High School and $116,101 to Erie County Technical School – comes from the CARES Act, which authorizes governors to determine the educational use of Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds. “Knowing this funding is on the way will give peace of mind to students and their families,” Harkins said. “I have received many calls from worried parents wanting to know if steps are being taken to ensure that their students will be safe. Thanks to this funding, the schools will be able to implement plans they have developed to ensure the safest possible environments.” Merski said, “The funding is coming at a critical time for our many students who are on paths to high-tech careers and the many employers who depend on a well-trained, talented pool of applicants. These grants will allow our students to resume learning in safe surroundings as they hone their skills for the modern workforce.” The funds may be used for a variety of resources, including protective equipment, hand sanitizer and cleaning products, equipment or technology to take classrooms online; installation of barriers or other Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $13,000 in COVID emergency relief to Erie Art Museum, Historical Society

(Aug 05, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 5 – The Erie Art Museum and Erie Historical Society will receive $13,000 in federal funding to help with operations impacted by the pandemic, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The grants include $7,000 to the historical society and $6,000 to the art museum. “As we reopen, rebuild and restructure to adapt to life during the pandemic, it’s critical that we continue supporting these special places that showcase and preserve our unique Erie history and culture,” Merski said. “The artwork and documents they protect and display serve as a chronicle for future generations about how our community persevered and survived -- even during times of adversity. Keeping them operating is as important now as ever." Harkins said, “In addition to collecting and preserving unique and important art and artifacts, our Erie Art Museum and Historical Society do so much to keep our community educated and engaged through learning, community programs, classes and events. This funding will help ensure that these important community centers can continue operating to provide these services now and in the months to come.” Bizzarro said, “Through their exhibits and displays, our Erie Art Museum and Historical Society play an important role in attracting visitors and tourists to our area, which is important to our local economy. This funding is going Read more

 

Erie universities, institutes awarded more than $500,000 in COVID safety grants

(Aug 03, 2020)

ERIE, Aug. 3 – Grant funding of $512,227 will help Erie’s postsecondary education organizations implement plans to keep students learning as schools resume operations this fall, state Reps. Pat Harkins, Bob Merski, and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants -- part of a package of $28 million in federal funding to organizations statewide – include the following: Edinboro University of Pennsylvania -- $239,640. Erie Institute of Technology Inc. -- $11,797. Gannon University -- $106,418. Great Lakes Institute of Technology -- $20,900. Mercyhurst University -- $133,472. “With this funding, our universities and tech institutes will be able to implement plans and purchase equipment to keep students learning in the safest possible ways – whether that’s through online instruction, in-person classes, or a combination of both,” Harkins said. “The money can be used for a variety of resources, from protective and sanitizing equipment to structural modifications to online technology.” “Although learning is most effective when it takes place in a live, energetic environment with real-time questions and demonstrations, the practical concerns raised by the pandemic mean that we have to sacrifice some aspects of that model,” Merski said. “With this funding and creative planning by school administrators, though, Read more

 

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro ask governor to remove 25% capacity limit on restaurants

(Jul 28, 2020)

ERIE, July 28 – State Reps. Pat Harkins, Bob Merski and Ryan Bizzarro, all D-Erie, have joined fellow lawmakers in calling on Gov. Tom Wolf to lift a recent restriction limiting bars and restaurants to 25% indoor capacity. In a letter to the governor co-signed by other members of the Northwest Delegation, the Erie lawmakers said the restriction does little to improve public safety while jeopardizing the survival of key local businesses. “Requiring local restaurants and bars to adhere to a 25% capacity rule will make it incredibly difficult for them to meet operating expenses and survive,” Harkins said. “Instead of punishing all restaurant and bar owners for the transgressions of a few, we should be better enforcing safety violations by the few and leaving our responsible business owners alone so they can help our community make an economic recovery.” Merski agreed, saying “ Protecting the health of our residents doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the viability of the local businesses that are the lifeblood of our economy. There is no reason to believe slashing capacity will enhance public safety, and there is no point in doing so if it will not change the behavior of the few bad actors responsible for the violations. “We need to reinstate the 50% capacity guideline before more residents are forced to resort to crossing state lines to dine out.” Bizzarro said, “We Read more

 

Delegation urges Wolf to reconsider restaurant restrictions

(Jul 28, 2020)

Lawmakers ask Wolf to rescind 25% occupancy limit to help local businesses Read more

 

Harkins clarifies which workers are eligible for new hazard pay program

(Jul 21, 2020)

ERIE, July 21 – State Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, is hoping to resolve questions regarding which workers are eligible for hazard pay under a newly announced program providing $50 million in CARES Act funding to compensate frontline workers for job-related risks. “Since the new hazard pay program was announced, many people in the district have been asking me which workers qualify,” Harkins said. “I want to clarify that the program is designed to compensate direct, full-time and part-time employees in life-sustaining industries who earn less than $20/hour, excluding fringe benefits and overtime.” Harkins said employers must apply for the grants, which are available for the following industries: healthcare and social assistance ambulatory health care services hospitals nursing and residential care facilities transit and ground passenger transportation food manufacturing food retail facilities security services for eligible industries listed above and commercial industries that were not closed under the governor’s business closure order janitorial services to buildings and dwellings “I’m urging businesses, agencies, non-profits and Certified Economic Development Organizations with employees in any of these industries to apply,” Harkins said. “Our frontline workers risk their health and the health of their Read more

 

Hazard pay grants now available to support frontline workers

(Jul 17, 2020)

HARRISBURG, July 17 – Workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic could see hazard pay through funding advocated for by the Pennsylvania House Democrats. Eligible employers can now apply for $50 million in available grants to offer hazard pay to frontline workers in life-sustaining industries. Throughout the COVID-19 health crisis, the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus has fought to support frontline workers and worked to ensure federal CARES Act dollars were allocated as part of the state budget package. Businesses in the following industries are eligible to apply for the grant funding: Health care and social assistance Food manufacturing Food retail facilities Public transit and ground passenger transportation Security services Janitorial services to buildings and dwellings More information on the grants is available here . Since the very beginning of the pandemic, and during 2020-21 budget negotiations, House Democrats have advocated for fair compensation and protections for frontline workers. Democratic state representatives from across Pennsylvania lauded the opening of the new grant program. Northeast Region Rep. Maureen Madden, D-Monroe : "I am a strong advocate for better wages and conditions for all workers. During times of financial uncertainty, hazard pay is crucial for all frontline workers facing increased exposure to the COVID-19 Read more

 

Erie legislators laud Regional Response Health Collaboration Program grant

(Jul 14, 2020)

HARRISBURG, July 14 -- State Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, today announced LECOM Health and UPMC Community Provider Services will receive $13.6 million to support COVID-19 readiness and response planning in long-term care facilities. The grants, awarded through the Regional Response Health Collaboration Program approved by the General Assembly, will help improve quality care related to infection prevention and allow long-term care facilities to expand COVID-19 testing to include asymptomatic staff and residents in facilities. “I am thrilled to see this investment in the fight against COVID-19 and protecting our most vulnerable citizens,” Bizzarro said. “Long-term care facility workers and residents need resources to help keep safe and mitigate the spread of this virus. When our health systems work together and the most innovative minds join forces, we can make meaningful progress in preserving the well-being of our community,” he explained. “It’s critically important to get this collaborative effort underway,” Merski said. “The pandemic’s effect on our long-term care facilities has been devastating, and we can’t attack the problem in a vacuum. By combining forces and pooling the best possible resources, professionals and information, we can help these facilities implement the kind of long-term planning and strategies they need to mitigate the Read more

 

Merski, Harkins remind area grocers, food retailers about COVID-19 relief fund

(Jul 10, 2020)

ERIE, July 10 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, want to be sure area grocery stores and other food retailers are aware of a new program designed to provide relief to these businesses impacted by the pandemic. The lawmakers said the Fresh Food Financing Initiative COVID-19 Relief Fund will support impacted businesses providing access to fresh, perishable and staple foods and will prioritize assistance to businesses located in and serving low-income communities. “Our small local grocers, food retailers and nonprofit distributors provide our community with critical access to fresh, nutritious foods – a resource that is more important than ever as residents strive to stay healthy during the pandemic,” Merski said. “But just as it has affected all businesses, COVID-19 has made it harder for these critical food retailers to continue operating. Harkins said, “This funding will help ensure that our community – and especially lower-income households –maintain access to the fresh, healthy food they need while also helping these key businesses contribute to our community’s economic health. We are urging all eligible local food retailers to apply.” Merski and Harkins said the program applies to traditional retailers as well as non-profit and cooperative entities such as corner stores and farmers markets. The applicant must: Read more

 

Harkins issues statement to resolve questions about REAL ID postponement

(Jul 08, 2020)

ERIE, July 8 – Seeking to clear up confusion over postponement of the REAL ID deadline, state Rep. Pat Harkins, D-Erie, issued the following statement: “I have been receiving a lot of calls from residents who have heard that the REAL ID enforcement deadline has been postponed to Oct. 1, 2021, but are confused about what this means and how it impacts them, so I am hoping to eliminate that confusion. “In response to 9/11, t he federal government passed the REAL ID Act to improve security and make it more difficult for terrorists or others intending harm to obtain a fake ID. The act tightened the requirements for getting a driver’s license or identification card that federal authorities would accept by requiring the person applying to meet a higher standard for showing proof of identity. “States are still free to issue – and residents are still free to get – standard driver’s licenses and identification cards that are not based on those more rigorous proof requirements. “Once enforcement of the act begins on Oct. 1, 2021, however, residents will no longer be able to use those standard licenses or ID cards as proof of identification for certain activities, including boarding a domestic commercial flight or visiting a military base or other high-security federal facility. Instead, people will have to present either a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID card, or will have Read more

 

Harkins: House unanimously adopts ‘Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Appreciation Day’
Sep 02, 2020

Rep. Pat Harkins' Summer 2020 Newsletter
Aug 26, 2020

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro urge state to expand hazard grants
Aug 26, 2020

Merski, Harkins: More than $44,500 in targeted funding will help underperforming students
Aug 26, 2020

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Nearly $190,000 to help students with special needs retain crucial skills during pandemic
Aug 20, 2020

Hazard Pay Grants will help bolster Erie frontline worker pay
Aug 17, 2020

Harkins: $1.8 million to help fund major sewer system project
Aug 17, 2020

Merski, Harkins: New project to transform Wayne School building will bring jobs, new community resources to Erie
Aug 14, 2020

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski announce Erie to receive $300K investment for area housing security
Aug 13, 2020

Merski, Harkins: More than $125,000 in funding to ensure all Erie students can access online, remote learning
Aug 07, 2020

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $300,000 in funding to help Erie career and technical education resume safely
Aug 06, 2020

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $13,000 in COVID emergency relief to Erie Art Museum, Historical Society
Aug 05, 2020

Erie universities, institutes awarded more than $500,000 in COVID safety grants
Aug 03, 2020

Harkins, Merski, Bizzarro ask governor to remove 25% capacity limit on restaurants
Jul 28, 2020

Delegation urges Wolf to reconsider restaurant restrictions
Jul 28, 2020

Harkins clarifies which workers are eligible for new hazard pay program
Jul 21, 2020

Hazard pay grants now available to support frontline workers
Jul 17, 2020

Erie legislators laud Regional Response Health Collaboration Program grant
Jul 14, 2020

Merski, Harkins remind area grocers, food retailers about COVID-19 relief fund
Jul 10, 2020

Harkins issues statement to resolve questions about REAL ID postponement
Jul 08, 2020