Merski urging residents to turn on their porch lights for ‘Light Up Erie’

(Apr 14, 2020)

ERIE, April 14 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is encouraging residents to turn on their porch lights at 8 p.m. Friday, April 17 to show their support and appreciation for Erie’s medical community and other essential frontline workers. Merski is teaming up with Erie News Now, the city and the county to sponsor “Light Up Erie,” an event recognizing the lifesaving and life-sustaining efforts of those who continue working during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our frontline workers have always been there for us – real-world heroes like the police, firefighters and emergency medical workers who risk their lives to keep us safe,” Merski said. “Now, COVID-19 is creating new heroes on the front lines. They’re the medical professionals and health care workers who battle the virus every day at their own peril to save lives. They’re also the workers who show up and work extended hours to keep our grocery shelves stocked, our medications available and our deliveries coming. “By providing a lifeline to essential services and goods, these heroes are making it possible for us to carry on in these challenging times. 'Light Up Erie' is a great opportunity to thank them and let them know how much we appreciate them – even when we can’t tell them to their faces. I encourage everyone in our community to participate – it’s a small act that will send a powerful message.” Read more


Merski calls on community for strong U.S. Census response

(Apr 01, 2020)

ERIE, April 1 – Calling it essential to Erie’s ongoing access to federally funded programs and services, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, called on everyone in the community to respond to the U.S. census. “It’s hard to overestimate how important our community’s response is,” Merski said. “The federal government uses the census count information it receives every 10 years to determine how to allocate billions in funding – money for schools, roads, hospitals and more. Based on the last census, Pennsylvania receives nearly $27 billion annually for critical programs and services. “The count also determines the number of U.S. representatives we’re allotted, so it affects the strength of our voice in the halls of Congress. “Now, it’s time for everyone to be counted again, and today – on Census Day – I’m asking everyone to do their part. If we all get counted, we end up stronger because of it.” Merski emphasized that because census answers can’t be used against an individual, and data security is managed by security experts operating at the highest levels, residents should not be concerned about safety or security. Moreover, the law prohibits the U.S. Census Bureau from releasing any information that identifies individuals, under penalty of large fines and possible prison time. He added that although Read more


Fill out the 2020 census!

(Mar 30, 2020)

In Pennsylvania, everyone counts and April 1 is National Census Day! If you haven’t already, don't forget to fill out your census form. Our population count determines our voice in government and how much federal funding we’ll receive for education, health care, transportation and more. Whether you respond online, mail or by phone , participate and help shape PA’s future. Your responses are anonymous and protected by law. To learn more, visit #PAcounts #2020Census Read more


Merski, Harkins: House unanimously passes COVID-19 response bills

(Mar 25, 2020)

ERIE, March 25 – The House today unanimously passed bills that would temporarily change the way students learn and Pennsylvanians vote during the COVID-19 epidemic, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced. Merski said he and Harkins both supported the amended S.B. 751 – which eliminates the 180-day requirement for all the commonwealth’s schools and authorizes the state Education secretary to keep schools closed until after the COVID-19 epidemic is over. “Difficult times call for creative solutions,” Merski said. “Pennsylvania’s incredibly dedicated teachers are ready to rise to that challenge by providing online lessons and resources to keep our kids learning and let them understand that although their routines may have changed, their education is still the No. 1 priority. “This bill would provide the flexibility for that to happen, while also ensuring that these teachers and other school workers are continued to be paid for their work.” Harkins and Merski also supported S.B. 422 , which would postpone the state primary to June 2 to give counties extra time to make adjustments and allow polling places to be consolidated and moved out of high-risk areas, among other things. “The COVID-19 crisis has changed nearly every aspect of daily life, and voting is no exception,” Harkins said. Read more


Check out my Community Resource Guide

(Mar 25, 2020)

The following is a link to local resources for Erie residents. Read more


Merski, Harkins support COVID-19 bill package

(Mar 19, 2020)

ERIE, March 19 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, are supporting a package of bills that will help Pennsylvanians navigate financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic. “State efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 have dramatically changed so many aspects of our daily lives,” Merski said. “From businesses being forced to close their doors to workers being told not to come in, the impact is being felt across the state. “As lawmakers, it’s incumbent on us to be proactive and take steps that will lessen the impact on residents. That’s why I’m joining with fellow legislators to support a package of bills that will better prepare residents to meet financial challenges caused by this public health emergency.” Harkins agreed, adding, "We Pennsylvanians are strong, and our communities are caring in times of crisis. This package of bills will help ensure that, as we work our way through this unfamiliar territory, we all make it through together and with as little impact as possible." The lawmakers said the bill package includes measures that would: provide a 60-day extension for filing state income tax returns due to an emergency declaration over COVID-19. extend the application deadline of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program until all funds are expended. provide funding for all voters to vote by Read more


COVID-19 Helpful Resources

(Mar 19, 2020)

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic affecting Pennsylvania, we wanted to provide you with the following resources and information to help you and your family in the days ahead. Please note that this webpage will be updated as needed with additional information and resources. State Services and Resources The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has created a COVID-19 guide to assist everyone. It includes information on social distancing, mental health resources, unemployment, food assistance, changes from PennDOT and resources for small business: For individuals : For families : For businesses : COVID Support for PA Businesses : The following provides information and and links to federal, state, local and private resources. **Self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers: Apply here for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits .** Information from the PA Dept. of Labor and Industry on the federal CARES Act: The following link provides you with Read more


Harkins, Merski: $5,000 grant to fund census outreach

(Mar 18, 2020)

ERIE, March 18 – A $5,000 state grant will fund efforts to promote awareness of and participation in the U.S. Census, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The grant to Culture, Arts, Festivals and Events of Erie, funded by the Department of Community and Economic Development, will fund outreach efforts “Census response is critical, because it ensures that our community gets its share of resources for infrastructure, schools, hospitals and other essential resources,” Harkins said. “That only happens if folks do their part and respond, and we need to spread the word about that.” Merski agreed, noting: “This grant will fund outreach to raise awareness about the census and about how important participation is. We need to bring federal dollars back to Erie, where they can go to work for the people.” The grant was awarded under the Census 2020 Outreach Grant Program, a tool to support grassroots efforts promoting awareness and participation in the 2020 Census across Pennsylvania. The program focuses on supporting efforts that target hard-to-count populations including, but not limited to, those who do not speak English as their primary language; ethnic minority, immigrant, and rural communities; children; the elderly; the LGBTQ population; and people experiencing homelessness. Read more


Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $90,000 awarded to provide paid internships for area students, young adults

(Mar 05, 2020)

ERIE, March 5 – Area students and young job seekers will benefit from new internship opportunities, thanks to a $90,189 grant from the state Department of Labor and Industry, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The grant to the Northwest Workforce Development Board will fund summer internships that pay a minimum of $10.35 an hour for students and young adults from 16 to 24. “Internships provide a perfect way for students and young adults to get a jump on career readiness by giving them an early, real-world look into the modern workplace,” Bizzarro said. “Those experiences can go a long way toward building confidence in young job seekers, familiarizing them with new technology and making the modern work setting seem more familiar and less daunting.” Harkins agreed, noting, “No amount of classroom training can substitute for actual workplace experience. Summer internships open so many doors: they help young job seekers understand whether their skills are a good match for a given field, they introduce them to the climate and expectations of a modern workplace, and they provide real-time exposure to the latest technology and techniques in rapidly changing modern job settings.” Merski added that the benefits flow both ways, helping employers, as well. “In addition to exposing young job seekers to new skills and learning experiences, Read more


Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: Nearly $20,000 in grants awarded to fund historical society, children’s museum

(Mar 04, 2020)

ERIE, Mar. 4 – Two state grants totaling $19,528 will benefit the Erie County Historical Society and the expERIEnce Children’s Museum, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said that the Pennsylvania Museum and Historical Society grants include $12,029 to the historical society and $7,499 to the museum. “Securing this funding for the Erie County Historical Society is so important because it’s an investment in preserving our shared history,” Bizzarro said. “With these resources, our region’s dedicated historians can continue preserving the documents, artifacts, structures and other historical items that keep Erie’s unique history alive for future generations.” Harkins said that he agreed and added, “Our historical society’s invaluable work preserving the past gives us insight into how our community has changed and evolved over time. It also gives us a way to pass that history and shared knowledge on from generation to generation so that we don’t lose touch with our past.” Merski added that the funding will bring educational benefits, as well. “Keeping the link to our past alive through physical exhibits is critically important from a learning perspective because real-life objects that can be seen and touched form an impression on kids in ways that textbooks can’t,” he said. “In much the same way, the Read more


Merski to host second ‘Modernizing the Vote’ session March 5

(Mar 03, 2020)

ERIE, Mar. 3 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is partnering with the Erie County Board of Elections to host a second “Modernizing the Vote” session on Thursday, March 5, in Summit Township. The event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Summit Township Municipal Building, 1230 Townhall Road West, 16509. “It was encouraging to see a strong turnout at our previous ‘Modernizing the Vote’ event in February because it shows that residents care about staying informed and keeping abreast of the changes to our voting laws,” Merski said. “We’re hosting a second event for people who were unable to make it in February. “Like our prior event, the one Thursday will inform voters about exciting changes, such as no-excuse, mail-in voting, an extended voting period and extended deadlines. It will also feature interactive, hands-on demonstrations of the new voting machines. I’m encouraging everyone to come by and get caught up on the latest changes coming to the Pennsylvania ballot.” Merski said residents wishing to learn more about the “Modernizing the Vote” event should call his office at 814-455-6319. Read more


Merski: More than $586,000 in grants to benefit community, school safety

(Feb 26, 2020)

ERIE, Feb. 26 – Three state grants totaling $586,009 will address community violence and bolster school safety in Erie, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. Merski said the grants – administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency – will fund the Community Violence Reduction Project, as well as equipment- and personnel-based resources for Erie County Technical School and Erie Rise Leadership Academy Charter School. “As a parent and former teacher, nothing is more important to me than the security of our kids,” Merski said. “Obtaining this funding will allow our schools to implement equipment-based measures such as new lighting, locks, security cameras and staff to help keep buildings and grounds brighter, safer and more secure. “Equally important, the funding will work to reduce community violence so residents of all ages have a safe place to call home.” Merski said the funding under the School Safety and Security Grant Program includes the following: $300,000 to the City of Erie Community Violence Reduction project. $262,239 to Erie County Technical School for concrete traffic barriers, lockdown kits, a vestibule, a security resource officer and emergency kits. $23,770 to Erie Rise Leadership Academy for lighting, security cameras and biometric locks. The School Safety and Read more


Merski hosting Senior Caregiving Seminar Feb. 26

(Feb 19, 2020)

ERIE, Feb. 19 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is encouraging seniors, their caregivers and anyone interested in entering this field to attend his Senior Caregiving Seminar on Wednesday, Feb. 26. The event will be held from 4-7 p.m. in the Community Room at 100 State St., Erie, 16507. “Responsibilities of senior caregivers can be as varied and unique as the seniors they serve,” Merski said. “What’s more, as seniors are living longer and opting to stay in their own homes, demand is only growing for responsible, dedicated adults who can be there to assist and support seniors and help them thrive. “My seminar will offer information on all aspects of senior caregiving, from who can be paid to be a caregiver and how to become licensed to how established caregivers can get valuable assistance from the state’s caregiver support program.” Merski added that he is partnering with the Greater Erie Community Action Committee – Erie’s Area Agency on Aging – to ensure participants receive the most accurate, up-to-date information. Those wishing to learn more about the event should call Merski’s district office at 814-455-6319. Read more


Rep. Merski's Winter 2020 Newsletter

(Feb 13, 2020)

As my staff and I enter our second year serving the 2nd Legislative District, I am very proud of our commitment to the people of Erie. Read more


Merski to host ‘Modernizing the Vote’ sessions Feb. 18

(Feb 10, 2020)

ERIE, Feb. 10 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is partnering with the Erie County Board of Elections to host “Modernizing the Vote” – a Feb. 18 event to educate voters about changes to Pennsylvania’s voting laws. The event will offer two identical sessions: the first from 10 a.m. to noon and the second from 4 to 6 p.m. Both will be held in the H.O. Hirt Auditorium of the Blasco Library, 160 Blasco St. “The new voting laws are bringing exciting changes, and they’ll be taking effect starting with the April 28 primary election,” Merski said. “Some of the changes include no-excuse mail-in voting, an annual mail-in ballot request list, extended deadlines for returning a mail-in or absentee ballot and more time to register to vote. “In addition, residents will see new machines that add protection from hackers by creating a paper trail. The new laws will make voting more convenient, more accessible and more secure, so I’m urging everyone to attend one of my sessions and learn what they need to know now, before it’s time to cast a vote.” Merski said residents wishing to learn more about the “Modernizing the Vote” event should call his office at 814-455-6319. Read more


Merski supports proposed budget’s investments in education, career training, healthy schools

(Feb 04, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 4 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, released the following statement today in reaction to Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2020-21 budget address: “How we spend our state resources determines the direction our state takes. When we invest in our people – from our students to our seniors – we all move forward. After hearing the governor’s proposed budget plan for the year ahead, I’m encouraged that it’s a plan that can move us in the right direction – without adding any new tax burden to residents. “I’m especially encouraged by the plan’s focus on education, including an additional $30 million to fund high-quality pre-K. As a teacher for many years, I know that a quality education is the starting point that lays the groundwork for all successes that flow later. When kids are given the right start, they achieve and succeed – and our entire state grows and prospers based on those successes. “Equally important to classroom learning is a healthy school environment. I strongly support the governor’s proposed funding to address lead and asbestos hazards in our schools; the health of our students is paramount, and they can’t learn and thrive in a toxic environment. “I’m encouraged that in addition to strong educational funding, the budget plan proposes strong continued investments in workforce development. Career and technical training Read more