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Merski appointed to House Urban Affairs’ Subcommittee on Cities

(Apr 15, 2019)

ERIE, April 11 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today that he has been appointed to serve on the House Urban Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Cities - Third Class for the 2019-20 legislative session. The Urban Affairs Committee reviews bills pertaining to cities and counties of the first, second and third class. “I’m extremely excited to serve on this subcommittee, which will give me a front-line role in reviewing legislation that directly impacts residents’ lives, from housing safety to tenants’ rights to capital improvements that combat blight,” Merski said. “The subcommittee weighs in on bills that address ways to make neighborhoods safer, broaden residents’ access to housing, and attract investments that restore the physical and economic landscape of communities. Making life safer and more prosperous for residents of smaller cities, such as Erie, is what this work is all about, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves.” Merski added that he intends to draw on his seven years’ experience on the Erie City Council, which required extensive familiarity with the state’s Third Class City Code. “Through my work on the city council, I became well-versed in the code and the specific issues that confront Third Class cities,” Merksi said. “I appreciate that the chairman recognized this experience and the ways in which it will enhance our subcommittee work.” Read more

 

Merski to host district office open house April 11

(Apr 04, 2019)

ERIE, April 4 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, will host an open house from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11 at his new district office located at 3901 Liberty St. in Erie. Merski, who is serving his first term as state representative, said he is excited about the opportunity to speak in-depth with area residents about community issues. “I’m really looking forward to the chance to talk to area residents one-on-one,” Merski said. “This is a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better, to exchange ideas about our community and to make sure everyone is aware of the many ways in which our staff can help with state-related matters.” Although not required, Merski and his staff encourage residents planning to attend to RSVP by calling the district office at (814) 455-6319 . Read more

 

Rep. Merski's Spring 2019 Newsletter

(Apr 02, 2019)

Check out my Spring 2019 newsletter! Read more

 

Merski’s district office relocating

(Mar 29, 2019)

ERIE, March 29 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced that his Erie district office located at 1216 W. 26th St. will be closing today and relocating to 3901 Liberty St. in Erie. The Liberty Street office will open Monday morning. “We are excited for the opening of our new office,” Merski said. “Although we’ll miss our neighbors on 26th Street, my staff and I are looking forward to carrying on our work of serving the people of Erie from our new Liberty Street location.” Merski said the new Liberty Street office is easily accessible by public transportation, within two blocks of EMTA bus routes 1, 3, 4, 12, 14, 15 and 17. The Liberty Street office will have the same phone number as the 26th St. office, (814) 455-6319 , and the same business hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. To welcome residents to the new office, Merski and his staff will be hosting an open house from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 11. Merski said he is looking forward to the event – which will feature light refreshments – as an opportunity for one-on-one conversation with area residents. Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $1 million will fund new housing for Erie County residents with disabilities

(Mar 27, 2019)

ERIE, March 27 – New housing is on the horizon for Erie County individuals with disabilities, thanks to $1 million in funding from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today. The money will be used to fund the EHCA New Community Homes project, which will construct group homes for Erie County residents with physical and intellectual disabilities. “The many individuals in our area who live with disabilities are integral members of our Erie community,” Bizzarro said. “They’re our friends, our families, and our coworkers, and they have remarkable achievements to contribute. The funding announced today will ensure that they have housing that provides them with both the independence and support they need to thrive.” “I’m very pleased about this funding,” Harkins said. “The money will allow for construction of group homes that provide Erie County’s individuals with disabilities a true home environment while also providing the necessary medical, social and emotional support they need to live with dignity.” Merski said: “The measure of a community is how it provides for all residents of all abilities. The funding announced today will make sure our community is an inclusive one that offers the benefits of a warm, supportive living environment for all residents.” RCAP is administered by the Office of the Read more

 

Merski: More than 650 students received nearly $2 million in state grant aid

(Mar 14, 2019)

ERIE, March 14 – State grants totaling nearly $2 million went to help 658 students in the House’s 2 nd Legislative District for the 2018-19 school year, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today. The awards were made under the Pennsylvania State Grant Program, which assists eligible Pennsylvania students who demonstrate financial need in pursuing higher education. “It’s extremely encouraging to see this funding going to help students in our district with the costs of higher education,” Merski said. “There are lots of industrious young Pennsylvanians in our area, but many face an uphill battle when it comes to shouldering the costs of higher education. Helping defray some of those costs is an investment that pays off on so many levels, not just for students but for our region, as graduates find jobs and reinvest back in the economy.” The grants were funded by an appropriation from the General Assembly, which provided the program $273 million. The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency – which administers the program – supplemented that amount by committing $101 million from its reserves. The combined funding set the maximum grant award at $4,123 for about 140,000 full- and part-time, qualifying students. In addition to the state grants, 12 students in the district received nearly $18,000 from the Ready to Succeed Scholarship Program, and 25 students received more than $97,500 from the Pennsylvania Read more

 

Merski to host ‘Second Chance Expo’ March 14

(Mar 12, 2019)

ERIE, March 12 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, will host a “Second Chance Expo” Thursday to help residents with nonviolent misdemeanor records reenter the workforce. In addition to a job fair, the event will feature state Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Phila., who co-authored the state’s clean slate law. Harris will speak about the new law and explain how it can open doors for job seekers with low-level, nonviolent criminal records. WHEN: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14 WHERE: Blasco Library’s Community Classroom, 160 E. Front St., Erie, PA 16507 Media coverage is invited . Read more

 

Merski to host ‘Second Chance Expo’ March 14

(Mar 07, 2019)

ERIE, March 7 – A “Second Chance Expo” in Erie next week will provide employment opportunities for local job seekers – and in particular those with prior nonviolent misdemeanor convictions who are seeking to reenter the job market, according to the event’s host, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie. The expo, which will feature speakers and a job fair, will be held from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at the Blasco Library’s Community Classroom, 160 E. Front St., Erie, PA 16507. Merski said he is hosting the event as part of a bipartisan effort to build on the momentum generated by the state’s recent clean slate law. “Last year, the commonwealth enacted a first-of-its-kind law that allows Pennsylvanians with nonviolent misdemeanor convictions to have those records sealed if they've stayed out of trouble for 10 years and paid all fines,” Merski said. “The new law recognizes the many talented, hardworking people who’ve made mistakes in life, paid their dues and now want only to return to being productive members of society. “By helping these job seekers get back on a track for success, we’re doing more than giving them a fresh start. We’re helping them reestablish themselves as productive members of the community. We’re helping their families, who will benefit from their support. And we’re helping our community by adding residents whose labor and income will stimulate the Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $83,000 will fund paid summer internships for local students

(Feb 25, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 25 – Erie County students will have a chance to benefit from paid summer internships thanks to a grant of $83,122 from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. The funding awarded to NWPA Job Connect – the northwest region’s local workforce development board – will give area students and job seekers between ages 16 and 24 the opportunity to earn a minimum of $10.35 per hour as they participate in summer internships with local public- and private-sector employers. “Summer internships are an ideal way for students to get a feel for what it’s like to work in a real job setting as they start to explore careers,” Bizzarro said. “By contributing in a real-life work environment, students develop confidence in their abilities while at the same time getting a sense of how their interests and skills overlap with real-world opportunities.” Harkins agreed, noting, “Internships of all kinds are incredibly valuable because they give students a chance to start building real-world, employable skills. At the same time, these programs help local employers tailor workforce training to their emerging needs. So we’re opening up career possibilities for students while strengthening the employment pool for our local businesses." Merski added that he was especially excited by the program because of the valuable Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $500,000 state grant will bring comprehensive computer science curriculum to Erie City School District

(Feb 11, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 11 – A $500,000 state grant will allow the Erie City School District to offer students a greatly enriched curriculum in computer science, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The grant will help the school district provide the foundation for a kindergarten through grade 12 computer science college and career pathway for more than 11,000 students throughout 16 schools. “This grant is extremely exciting,” Merski said. “In the past, students in the Erie City district have had only limited access to computer science and STEM coursework. Fortunately, with the help of this grant, that’s about to change. The funding announced today is going to provide greatly expanded opportunities – including computer technology and programming – that were previously out of reach. The grant is going to provide students access to career opportunities they didn't even know existed. It’s going to bring them up to par with their counterparts in wealthier districts.” Harkins agreed, noting, “The grant is going to allow the district to offer courses that engage students’ minds, with activities like coding, programming, robotics, gaming, networking and cyber security. It’s also going to provide for resources such as new and renovated computer labs and internship opportunities – the kinds of opportunities that provide meaningful college and career pathways.” Read more

 

Merski supports attorney general’s lawsuit against UPMC

(Feb 08, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 8 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, issued the following statement today in response to news that state Attorney General Josh Shapiro is suing UPMC seeking to modify and indefinitely extend the UPMC-Highmark Health consent decree set to expire June 30. “I support the attorney general’s lawsuit wholeheartedly,” Merski said. “The end of the UPMC-Highmark relationship stands to affect our entire community, and those hardest hit will be low-income working families, children and seniors, who will lose access to the lower-priced, in-network care that is so critically important. “This isn’t just an access issue – it’s a matter of preserving residents’ rights to their own health care choices and enabling them to continue with the care that’s best for them. Nowhere is choice more important than in the health care field, where it most affects quality of life. “UPMC’s argument that residents can select other, in-network providers ignores the fact that patients develop special, long-term relationships with their doctors, who are familiar with their patients’ histories. UPMC’s refusal to extend the consent decree is essentially giving thousands of Erie residents the Hobson’s choice of shouldering higher costs or finding new doctors. “As a charitable organization subsidized by workers’ taxpayer dollars, it’s reasonable to expect UPMC to do the right Read more

 

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $460,000 in grants will boost industries, apprenticeship programs in Northwest Pa.

(Feb 07, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 7 – More than $460,000 in state grants will expand job training opportunities for Erie County residents, while helping regional industries become more competitive, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie. Five grants – all part of the PAsmart initiative – will connect students and other area job seekers with regional employers in the advanced manufacturing, plastics, and building and construction industries. Apprenticeships are a major focus of the initiative. “Apprenticeships in high-tech industries are especially exciting because they introduce students to jobs in a real-world setting that teaches real-world skills,” Bizzarro said. “For example, students doing a pre-apprenticeship program in the plastics industry will get both an overview of the industry and specific training on working with injection-molding machinery.” “Programs like these are incredibly valuable because they offer young Pennsylvanians an opportunity to earn as they learn,” Merski added. “Students gain skills and confidence while working under the guidance and encouragement of a mentor, which is the ideal setting for developing career and technical skills.” Harkins agreed, saying, “There’s no replacement for on-the-job training, particularly where high-skill careers are involved. Registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs are a win-win for everyone Read more

 

Merski: Governor’s budget strong on education

(Feb 05, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Feb. 5 – Reacting to Gov. Tom Wolf’s address today, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, expressed enthusiasm for aspects of the governor’s proposed 2019-20 budget, and particularly its focus on education. “I was encouraged to hear the governor speak about the importance of funding basic education,” Merski said. "As a former educator for more than 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand the impact of a strong pre-K to grade 12 program. Instilling fundamental concepts in kids at the earliest possible age leads to better grades, stronger self-confidence and achievement in life. So an investment in public education is truly an investment in the future of the commonwealth. “Funding is also important to ensure that the curriculum keeps pace with the changing demands of the modern workforce. As today’s jobs become increasingly complex, developing a curriculum doesn’t mean the same thing it did 30 years ago. There are increased demands for STEM courses, computer sciences and other tech-intensive classes that kids need in order to be prepared. “I also support the governor’s proposed investment in workforce development. It’s clear that investing in our future generation of workers through enhanced career and tech training will yield returns in the form of a better-prepared, more competitive workforce. “Now starts the work of reaching across the aisle to agree on a budget that works for everyday Read more

 

Merski appointed to four House committees

(Jan 28, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 28 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, announced today that he has been appointed to serve on four House committees: Game and Fisheries, Gaming Oversight, Local Government, and Urban Affairs. The freshman representative also has been elected treasurer of the Northwest Delegation. “I’m excited to have a hand in shaping legislation on issues that matter both to my region and to the entire commonwealth,” Merski said. “My appointment to these committees will allow me to be involved on an immediate level to ensure that our residents’ needs and interests are protected and that our taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.” Merski noted that the Game and Fisheries Committee reviews bills that affect the Game Commission and the Fish and Boat Commission. Both are independent entities that rely on licensing and use fees for a significant portion of their funding. The Gaming Oversight Committee works with the state Gaming Control Board to evaluate bills that affect gaming in Pennsylvania, rules for casinos and the use of gaming proceeds. The Urban Affairs Committee reviews bills that pertain to cities and counties of the first, second and third class, while the Local Government Committee reviews bills that affect counties, cities, boroughs and townships. Merski represents the 2nd Legislative District and maintains a constituent service office at 1216 W. 26th St. Erie, PA 16508. He encourages residents to visit his website at Read more

 

Merski: We Must Put Children's Health First

(Jan 23, 2019)

Pa. state Rep. Robert Merski participated in a hearing to discuss the dangers of lead levels for children and the importance of getting them tested early to protect them from dangerous health issues down the road. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $70,000 in grants will bring computer science to the classroom

(Jan 17, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 17 – The Erie County school curriculum is about to become broader and more tech-oriented thanks to $70,000 in grants that will introduce computer science into the classroom, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The Erie City School District and the Erie Rise Leadership Academy Charter School will each receive a $35,000 grant to fund the training and equipment needed to ready teachers and students to embrace the new, tech-oriented classes. “As a former educator, I’m really excited to hear about these grants,” Merski said. “Although many people automatically think of coding when they hear the phrase ‘computer science,’ it’s actually a subject that goes far beyond programming. With studies and exercises that teach kids how to think critically, it’s a discipline that introduces concepts of logic, problem solving and creativity – lessons for which kids of all ages are ready.” Harkins agreed, noting, “The skills computer science teaches cut across so many different fields. CS teaches students how to attack problems in a computational way, by breaking them down into smaller parts, and it helps older students become comfortable working with large amounts of data. It also gives them a chance to create technology, not just use it. It readies them for the modern workforce.” Merski noted that the grants are targeted at schools with little or no Read more

 

Merski elected treasurer of Northwest Delegation

(Jan 16, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 16 – State Rep. Bob Merski will be taking on a leadership role as he starts his first term in the House: Merski announced today that he has been elected treasurer of the House Democratic Northwest Delegation. “I’m honored and excited to be a part of the group’s leadership,” Merski said. “The delegation is key to providing a unified voice on the issues that matter to our region’s working families. It’s a way for us to join forces as legislators and bring attention to goals, interests and challenges that are shared by families throughout our area of the state. Collective voices speak louder, and being a part of that effort is a terrific opportunity.” Merski added that he is looking forward to strategizing with other members of the Northwest leadership team, including chairman Rep. Frank Burns of Cambria County; vice chairman Rep. Ryan Bizzarro of Erie County; and secretary Rep. Pat Harkins, also of Erie County. Read more

 

Merski: Wolf’s priorities right for commonwealth

(Jan 16, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 15 – Attending Gov. Tom Wolf’s inauguration today, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, said he was encouraged by the priorities the governor expressed for his second term. “I’m excited for Governor Wolf’s second term,” Merski said. “His address today – and particularly his emphasis on education, workforce development and jobs – made clear that the commonwealth’s working families are front and center in his agenda. It’s good to know that we share the same central priority – a commitment to the needs of Pennsylvania’s families – because we accomplish more when we work toward a shared agenda. “I was especially glad to hear the governor emphasize the importance of investing in our schools. From my years as an Erie educator, I understand the critical role education – from pre-K through career training and higher education – plays in equipping our next generation to take on the demands of the modern workforce. It’s good to know we’ll be working together to enact laws and promote programs that give our kids the start they need so they can stay and raise families in the state, invest back into the economy and ensure that the commonwealth continues to prosper. “Being at the state Capitol for the inauguration also reminded me how fortunate I feel to be representing the people of Erie, and how I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and start Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $157,160 grant will allow students to explore career pathways in manufacturing, health care

(Jan 10, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 10 – Students from low-income families will have a chance to explore career pathways in the manufacturing and health care industries, thanks to a $157,160 grant to a local workforce development board, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The funding to the Students in the Workplace project will offer about 400 low-income middle and high school students a real-world look at jobs in manufacturing and health care through programs such as job shadowing and career tours. “This grant is going to open doors for area students by bringing them into a real-world setting and letting them envision the possibilities,” Harkins said. “When it comes to career planning, there’s no better way to stimulate kids’ minds than to let them see and experience the real working world beyond the classroom.” Merski agreed, noting, “As essential as classroom learning is, there’s no substitute for letting kids interact with employers and employees in the field. This grant is going to provide for experiences such as job shadowing, soft-skills training and career tours, which will allow students to determine what careers truly excite them and how their own skills match up with real-world opportunities.” Harkins and Merski noted that in addition to providing students a real-world look at manufacturing and health care careers, the project aims to help area businesses and schools partner to Read more

 

Bizzarro, Merski: $141,900 grant will help workers break through transportation barriers

(Jan 10, 2019)

HARRISBURG, Jan. 10 – A $141,900 grant to a northwest Pennsylvania employment and training program will help working families retain jobs by providing reliable transportation assistance, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro and Robert Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The Northwest Workforce Investment Act funding will benefit St. Benedict Education Center EARN participants by removing transportation-related obstacles that can affect their ability to maintain employment. “A reliable means of getting to and from work is critical for working families,” Bizzarro said. “This grant will provide essential support for program participants by helping them with the costs of getting a license reinstated, paying for car repairs or footing the bill for other transportation-related services. The funding will go a long way toward bringing stability in this area for families needing it.” “Programs like this one are all about helping hardworking families succeed as they work to give themselves and their children a better life,” Merski said. “If this funding helps break down the barriers that stand in that way of that, it’s hard to imagine a more worthwhile investment.” Participants become eligible for transportation assistance under the program once they obtain a minimum 20-hour-a-week job. The grant is part of a package of more than $1 million the state Department of Human Services is dispersing to provide greater support to Read more

 

Merski appointed to House Urban Affairs’ Subcommittee on Cities
Apr 15, 2019

Merski to host district office open house April 11
Apr 04, 2019

Rep. Merski's Spring 2019 Newsletter
Apr 02, 2019

Merski’s district office relocating
Mar 29, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $1 million will fund new housing for Erie County residents with disabilities
Mar 27, 2019

Merski: More than 650 students received nearly $2 million in state grant aid
Mar 14, 2019

Merski to host ‘Second Chance Expo’ March 14
Mar 12, 2019

Merski to host ‘Second Chance Expo’ March 14
Mar 07, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $83,000 will fund paid summer internships for local students
Feb 25, 2019

Harkins, Merski: $500,000 state grant will bring comprehensive computer science curriculum to Erie City School District
Feb 11, 2019

Merski supports attorney general’s lawsuit against UPMC
Feb 08, 2019

Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: More than $460,000 in grants will boost industries, apprenticeship programs in Northwest Pa.
Feb 07, 2019

Merski: Governor’s budget strong on education
Feb 05, 2019

Merski appointed to four House committees
Jan 28, 2019

Merski: We Must Put Children's Health First
Jan 23, 2019

Harkins, Merski: $70,000 in grants will bring computer science to the classroom
Jan 17, 2019

Merski elected treasurer of Northwest Delegation
Jan 16, 2019

Merski: Wolf’s priorities right for commonwealth
Jan 16, 2019

Harkins, Merski: $157,160 grant will allow students to explore career pathways in manufacturing, health care
Jan 10, 2019

Bizzarro, Merski: $141,900 grant will help workers break through transportation barriers
Jan 10, 2019