Rep. Merski's Pandemic Resource Help Sheet

(Dec 16, 2020)

Rep. Bob Merski's Pandemic Resource Help Sheet. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $2.6 million will bring high-speed broadband access to more Erie residents, businesses

(Dec 10, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 10 – Nearly 3,100 Erie residents and business owners will gain access to high-speed internet, thanks to nearly $2.59 million in funding from the Federal Communications Commission awarded to companies serving the region, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced. The Erie lawmakers said the funding will bring long-awaited access to many of the region’s underserved residents. “Internet is nearly as critical as power and light these days, yet high-speed, reliable access is still not universally available to families throughout our region,” Merski said. “The ability to connect to the outside world should never depend on a resident’s ZIP code, but unfortunately, that has been the reality for many low-income households. This funding has the prospect of finally leveling the playing field for many area families.” Harkins said: “With the pandemic limiting outings and restricting so many life activities, residents are depending more than ever on the internet – for shopping, working, checking in with relatives, and more. A reliable, high-speed connection is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity. But for far too long, underserved families in our region have lacked access. The funding announced today is terrific news because it is a step toward leveling the playing field and ensuring all households – regardless of location – have the access Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: $200,000 to enhance Erie building code, permitting operations

(Dec 10, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 10 – A $200,000 grant will allow the city of Erie to purchase computer equipment and software needed to keep building code enforcement and permitting operations running smoothly, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today . The lawmakers said the funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development will also allow the city’s code enforcement office to retain a consultant to guide effective, cost-efficient purchasing. “Building code enforcement and permitting are critically important services that impact both the safety of residents and business patrons and the economic operations of local businesses,” Harkins said. “Equipment and software purchased with this funding will be indispensable to department staff in managing reports and workflow, addressing concerns and following up on compliance.” Merski said: “While computer software can never take the place of hands-on site inspection, computer systems and software can make certain operations – including receiving and processing applications, reviewing plans and tracking code compliance – much more efficient. This funding is going to give code enforcement officers and related staff the tools they need to streamline and enhance operations for the benefit of residents, business owners, builders and the entire community.” The grant was made Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $1.4 million to fund anti-crime, victim support and youth mentoring programs in Erie County

(Dec 09, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 9 – Grant funding of $1.44 million will bolster programs and services to reduce crime, assist domestic violence and sexual assault victims and support at-risk youth in Erie County, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding – administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency – includes seven grants to different county criminal justice and social service agencies and will work to improve the lives of those most in danger. “We can’t all thrive as a community unless all of us are safe and free from harm,” Merski said. “The PCCD funding awarded today will help those most in need by providing services, justice, and a second chance at a normal life.” Harkins said: “Victims of domestic violence and child abuse need a voice, and they get that through the terrific advocates who work for our agencies. This funding is going to help those workers provide the best possible support for those who are working to throw off trauma and regain strong, healthy lives.” The grants will go to the following agencies and projects in the following amounts: County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee – improve adult probation services Erie County Improvement of Adult Probation Services $463,030 Victims’ Services Advisory Committee - bolster services for domestic and sexual Read more

 

Erie lawmakers, officials applaud MLB decision to keep ties to SeaWolves

(Dec 09, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 9 – Erie lawmakers issued the following statement in response to news that the SeaWolves have made the cut as one of the minor league affiliates selected by Major League Baseball as it reorganizes and downsizes its minor league baseball system from 160 to 120 teams. “The MLB’s announcement today was the best call Erie could have received,” state Rep. Pat Harkins said. “Our community has a unique relationship with the SeaWolves, with ties that run deep for so many of us. Years ago, my father worked with city officials to get the stadium built, and since then, it has been a place for our community to cheer together – and also a significant source of jobs and revenue. “When we learned the MLB was considering cutting ties, we did all we could to make sure the baseball commissioners understood the depth of Erie’s commitment. I’m thrilled that our efforts to keep the team here ended in a win so we can continue rooting for our hometown heroes.” State Rep. Bob Merski said, “Today’s news from the MLB means that our beloved SeaWolves will stay right here in Erie, where they belong. Beyond the entertainment value, the decision means Erie will continue to reap the tremendous economic benefits that go with hosting a double-A-list sports team. It also means that the state and city’s multimillion-dollar stadium investment was not in vain. The Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $2.6 million in tax credits to spur investment in housing, job training, blight reduction for Erie

(Dec 08, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 8 – Tax credits totaling $2.64 million under the state Neighborhood Assistance Program will leverage investments in projects to improve life for Erie residents, address blight and stimulate business growth, Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the tax credit program is especially helpful this year, as more residents are struggling because of the pandemic. “The investments generated by these tax credits are going to deal with immediate needs facing our community – from addressing food insecurity and creating affordable housing to providing additional learning opportunities for kids from low-income households,” Harkins said. “This year, programs that address quality of life are especially important, and this new infusion of tax credits is going to spur investment that empower residents to overcome obstacles, gain greater independence and productivity.” Merski agreed, saying, “In addition to assisting residents, the infusion of funding these tax credits will bring is going to change the landscape, quite literally, by helping to transform blighted, vacant areas into business-friendly, family-friendly spaces. Investments of this kind provide the catalyst for change that open the door to opportunities for our industrious small business community and hardworking families.” The lawmakers said $1.82 million in tax credits will leverage investments Read more

 

Rep. Bob Merski's 2021 Capitol Scenes Calendar

(Dec 03, 2020)

Download Rep. Bob Merski's 2021 Capitol Scenes calendar! Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: More than $17,500 in grants awarded to fund historical society, children’s museum

(Dec 02, 2020)

ERIE, Dec. 2 – Grant funding of $17,563 will support the operations of the Erie County Historical Society and the expERIEnce Children’s Museum, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said that funding from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission includes $10,436 to the historical society and $7,127 to the museum. “We all appreciate the unique place Erie is, but it’s the artifacts and documents – the physical pieces of our history – that give us the perspective and understanding that explains how we got here and how far we have come,” Harkins said. “By archiving and chronicling our past, the historical society keeps us in touch with our roots and with the things that make us proud to be Erie residents. This funding is going to help it continue operating so it can preserve that history for generations to come.” Merski said, “In addition to supporting the Erie County Historical Society, the funding today is helping fund operations of the expERIEnce Children’s Museum, which provides incredible hands-on opportunities for learning. Kids are incredibly receptive to information they can process with all their senses, and the museum’s vivid events and displays offer experiences they will remember far longer than simple textbook lessons. “Today’s funding comes at an important time for both Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: More than $200,000 for pandemic-related shelter needs

(Nov 30, 2020)

ERIE, Nov. 30 – Erie residents facing homelessness will have greater protection thanks to $200,365 in CARES Act funding to area shelters and relief organizations, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today . The lawmakers said the grant funding from the CARES Act will protect residents from combined threats during a particularly dangerous season. “Homelessness is brutal under any circumstances, but for Pennsylvanians without shelter during the pandemic, it can be a nightmare,” Merski said. “Securing this funding means that folks in our area who need it will have a warm bed and a place to keep themselves and their loved ones safe while they work to rebuild their lives.” Harkins said, “Home is a safe harbor from the harsh realities of winter and other dangers. This year, residents are facing additional, deadly risks – they need protection from freezing temperatures and unprecedented health risks. Thanks to this funding, there will be a safe harbor for them – and peace of mind.” The lawmakers said the funding will be shared by the following emergency shelter providers: Erie United Methodist Alliance (also provides street outreach). Community of Caring. Safe Journey. Community Shelter Services. The City Mission. Pennsylvania received a second allocation of Read more

 

House unanimously adopts Merski resolution celebrating Polish American heritage

(Nov 18, 2020)

HARRISBURG, Nov. 18 – The House today unanimously adopted state Rep. Bob Merski’s resolution designating October 2020 as Polish American Heritage Month in Pennsylvania. Merski, D-Erie, said he introduced H.R. 1074 to bring attention to the rich Polish American heritage shared by so many Pennsylvanians and the countless contributions Polish Americans have made to U.S. history, culture and innovation. “Pennsylvania has the fourth-largest population of Polish Americans in the nation, with more than 800,000 of us calling the commonwealth home,” Merski said. “Our roots are deeply entwined with American history and date back more than 400 years. “Poles worked and fought side-by-side with early settlers and founders, contributing to the survival of our earliest colonies and leading troops during the Revolutionary War. Over the years, they have made major contributions to the arts, sciences, technology and medicine. “As Polish Americans, we are deeply proud of this history, but also of the customs and traditions we share, which are alive and well here in Pennsylvania. They enrich our festivals and social clubs, where members form bonds, share stories and plan events that enrich the entire community. “We relish introducing those traditions to the others – something that has been difficult since the pandemic has prevented large gatherings. We are looking forward to the days when we can again share our rich culture – Read more

 

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: Millcreek public library receives $25,000 grant

(Nov 12, 2020)

ERIE, Nov. 12 – A $25,000 state Keystone grant will fund a needs assessment and relocation feasibility study for the Erie County Public Library’s Millcreek branch, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski, and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding from the state Department of Education supports a beloved community resource. “Millcreek Library has worked so hard to foster a love of books in our community,” Bizzarro said. “Even amidst the pandemic, they’ve served as a wonderful resource and continue to provide learning opportunities. This grant will help the library assess its needs so it can continue to enrich our community.” Merski agreed, saying, “With the pandemic having such an isolating effect, it’s especially helpful for people to have a safe gathering place where they can go to search information, attend programs with their kids, or simply relax and interact with neighbors. Securing this funding is going to help the Millcreek branch determine how it can best expand and improve access to those resources.” Harkins said, “Having an accessible community library with open doors is critical because it reminds people that despite how life has changed, there is a still safe, familiar harbor out there. The funding awarded today is an investment in a resource that provides help, hope and a place for people to share common ground.” Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $75,000 grant will fund home repairs for Erie residents

(Oct 29, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 29 – Low- to moderate-income Erie homeowners will get some assistance with needed housing repairs, thanks to a $75,000 grant to the City of Erie from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grant will fund individual projects to enhance housing safety. “Above all else, home should be a safe haven during the pandemic,” Merski said. “Residents struggling to meet basic household expenses should not have to worry about malfunctioning heating equipment or structural defects that threaten their families’ safety.” Harkins agreed, saying, “Thanks to this funding, eligible homeowners will be able to apply for assistance with projects like fixing faulty hot water tanks or furnaces, renovating dangerous structural elements like broken porch railings, and completing other small projects that are key to keeping their loved ones safe.” The legislators said the application process is expected to begin sometime in the next month – with additional details to come – and will be available for households with incomes below 50% of the area median income. Individual projects cannot exceed $3,000. Read more

 

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Liquor license fee waiver will help area bars, restaurants

(Oct 22, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 22 – A state plan in the works to waive liquor license fees for Pennsylvania’s struggling bars, restaurants and clubs during 2021 will bring an important measure of relief for these critical local businesses, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the administration’s plan – which is awaiting final approval from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board – would allow local restaurant and bar owners retain the critical capital they need to stay afloat. “Months of operating under pandemic restrictions have exacted a devastating toll on our area’s family restaurants, bars and clubs, and some creative solutions were definitely needed to help them survive,” Merski said. “Last week, I joined several colleagues in asking the governor to work out a fee waiver plan. “Although it’s not a cure-all for the huge financial challenges that lay ahead and a restaurant relief package is needed as soon as possible, the waiver will help these local mom-and-pop businesses that are so very important to our local economy, and any relief we can provide now is a good thing.” Bizzarro said, “I am happy to see progress being made to support the service industry. These savings will provide great relief to the local restaurants, bars and clubs that have served as a backdrop for many of Read more

 

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: $1.5 million grant will expand Innovation Beehive, spur business growth

(Oct 15, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 15 – A $1,499,225 million grant will allow the Northwest Pennsylvania Innovation Beehive Network to expand and serve more area entrepreneurs and businesses, according to state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Bob Merski, and Pat Harkins, all D-Erie. The lawmakers said the grant to Penn State University from the Appalachian Regional Commission will fund a project to expand the Beehive’s reach and services, helping it to spur new businesses and support existing ones throughout the region and beyond, into Southern New York and Ohio. “The Beehive is a one-of-a-kind resource that harnesses the talents of our area’s best minds and pools resources to provide specialized expertise and services to businesses and entrepreneurs,” Bizzarro said. “Securing this funding means that the collaborative’s grant-funded centers will be able cast a wider net and serve more businesses and entrepreneurs, generating more economic activity and jobs for our region.” Merski agreed, saying, “With the new funding, more area businesses, inventors and entrepreneurs will benefit from the Beehive’s unique faculty and student-based services, which include everything from graphic design and video production to consulting and market analysis. The new project is going to help the collaborative expand into new services and areas as it supports hundreds of businesses, helps create new ventures and leverages thousands in private investment. Read more

 

Merski alerts residents to one-stop-shop voting option

(Oct 13, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 13 – State Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, wants to be sure residents are aware of a simple, one-stop-shop voting option that allows them to apply for, obtain, and cast a mail-in ballot all in one visit to the Erie County Voter Registration Office. “With the election right around the corner, it’s time to start preparing, especially if folks plan to vote by mail but have not yet applied for a mail-in ballot,” Merski said. “I want to be sure everyone is aware of a simple, one-stop-shop option that allows residents to visit the Erie County Voter Registration Office, located in Room 112 of the Erie County Courthouse at 140 W. 6 th St. “Once there, residents can apply for and obtain a mail-in ballot, vote that ballot, and cast it by dropping it in the office’s drop box – all in one simple visit. With all the complications the pandemic has brought, it’s a great way to take care of an important civic responsibility ahead of time and get everything squared away. “Of course, residents who want to vote by mail but don’t want to venture out can still apply online for a mail-in ballot by visiting www.votespa.com . Whichever option people choose, it’s a good idea to make a plan now, because the county must receive your application for a mail-in or absentee ballot by 5 p.m. Oct. 27.” Merski added that residents who already chose a Read more

 

Merski, Harkins announce nearly $97,000 in fire grants

(Oct 08, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 8 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today that four fire companies in their districts will be receiving $96,849 in state grants for operational expenses incurred because of COVID-19. The lawmakers said the grants are being awarded by the Office of State Fire Commissioner to offset expenses related to the pandemic. “The pandemic has compounded the financial burden on our fire and EMS services in so many ways, forcing departments to acquire new protective equipment and answer a higher volume of calls,” Merski said. “This funding should help alleviate the financial strain and ensure our incredibly dedicated first responders have what they need to continue their lifesaving work.” Harkins agreed, saying, “Before the pandemic, fire and rescue companies were able to count on fundraising events as a source of supplemental income, but that revenue source has dried up because of COVID-19. At the same time, rescue workers are expected to be out there answering a high volume of calls while fighting new risks. It’s a tough job made tougher, but it’s our hope that this grant funding will help.” The lawmakers said the following fire companies will receive the following amounts: Belle Valley Fire Department Inc. – $23,425. City of Erie Fire Department – $25,342. Lawrence Park Volunteer Fire Department – $22,740. Read more

 

Merski, Harkins applaud administration’s move to loosen crowd limits

(Oct 06, 2020)

ERIE, Oct. 6 – State Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, today lauded news that the governor is loosening crowd restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings beginning Friday, Oct. 9. “We have been working with the governor to have reasonable limits that allow people to attend events, while maintaining the safety that is critical for combatting COVID-19,” Merski said. “I think these new restrictions meet the moment, allowing parents to attend sporting events and making accommodations for the size of venues. “We still need everyone to be smart and responsible – wear their masks and maintain social distance – while enjoying events and functions. Our community is ready to stand together and show that we support one another. I’m confident that we can do this safely and responsibly.” Harkins agreed, saying, “We have worked with the governor to find positive solutions that will work for people around the state going forward, and I am truly optimistic about today’s news that crowd limits are being relaxed. “Practicing safety and coming together as a community are not mutually exclusive. We all need something to cheer about, and the simple act of being able to go out in the stands and celebrate together is good for our mental health. It’s a step toward normal at a time when that’s needed most.” More information about changes announced by the Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: Area food bank receives $50,000 Veterans Trust Fund grant

(Sep 18, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 18 – A $50,000 grant from the state Veterans Trust Fund to Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania will benefit the food bank’s program helping veterans and their families, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding will support Second Harvest’s Military Share program, which is designed to provide fresh, nutritious foods for families with at least one member who has served in the armed forces. “I am proud to have Second Harvest Food Bank operating in my district,” Merski said. “The work they do transcends legislative boundaries, and I am thrilled to work with my Erie colleagues to get them the funding they need to continue this great work. This grant will help feed Erie veterans and their families in need and is a valiant use of state resources.” Harkins added: “No one should have to worry where their next meal is coming from, especially the brave servicemen and women who’ve selflessly served our country. Second Harvest Food Bank serves Erie well, and it’s heartening to see Erie tax dollars return to serve those who have served us.” More information on the grant program is available here . Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Erie Access Improvement Grant Program now open

(Sep 18, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 18 – Applications are now being accepted for the recently expanded Erie Access Improvement Grant Program, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the grants are open to public entities that are interested in acquiring land or other property rights, developing or improving public access sites, or carrying out other projects that benefit public fishing in the Lake Erie watershed. “We are excited that the program is open for applications, especially because it was recently expanded to fund a broader range of projects, including fish-cleaning stations and other projects to benefit publish fishing,” Harkins said. “We are looking forward to seeing more projects that allow residents to take fuller advantage of the lake and opportunities it offers.” Merski, who sits on the House Game and Fisheries Committee, said, “The Lake Erie Watershed offers tremendous benefits for our region, from recreation, to commerce to tourism. Projects that expand access to the lake and fishing allow more residents and visitors to enjoy this unique Erie gem while also helping our local economy. We are encouraging public entities to apply as soon as possible.” Act 56 of 2020 expanded Erie Access Improvement Grant Program funding – previously limited to access and habitat-related projects – to a more diverse Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: $430,000 in grant funding to support Erie fresh food providers

(Sep 17, 2020)

ERIE, Sept. 17 – Grant funding of $430,000 will help two important Erie food retailers continue supplying the community with fresh, nutritious meat, produce and other staples, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins, both D-Erie, announced today. The lawmakers said the funding, awarded under the Fresh Food Financing Initiative and funded by the federal CARES Act, includes $350,000 to Gordon’s Market LLC and $80,000 to Whole Foods Cooperative. “When the pandemic arrived, local retailers providing fresh, perishable food faced unprecedented obstacles, including revenue shortfalls, supply storages and transportation issues,” Merski said. “Securing this funding is going to help fortify these important local businesses and provide the resources they need to adapt to changing conditions so they can continue to be there to serve our communities.” Harkins agreed, saying: “Access to nutrition is more important than ever as the pandemic strains budgets for small businesses and families alike. Securing this funding is going to help families – and particularly lower-income households – maintain that vital link to the fresh, healthy food that helps residents stave off illness and stay strong through trying times.” The funding is part of a package of $10 million in funding to 115 retailers in 39 counties. Grocery stores, cooperative entities, farmers’ Read more

 

Rep. Merski's Pandemic Resource Help Sheet
Dec 16, 2020

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $2.6 million will bring high-speed broadband access to more Erie residents, businesses
Dec 10, 2020

Harkins, Merski: $200,000 to enhance Erie building code, permitting operations
Dec 10, 2020

Harkins, Merski: More than $1.4 million to fund anti-crime, victim support and youth mentoring programs in Erie County
Dec 09, 2020

Erie lawmakers, officials applaud MLB decision to keep ties to SeaWolves
Dec 09, 2020

Harkins, Merski: More than $2.6 million in tax credits to spur investment in housing, job training, blight reduction for Erie
Dec 08, 2020

Rep. Bob Merski's 2021 Capitol Scenes Calendar
Dec 03, 2020

Harkins, Merski: More than $17,500 in grants awarded to fund historical society, children’s museum
Dec 02, 2020

Merski, Harkins: More than $200,000 for pandemic-related shelter needs
Nov 30, 2020

House unanimously adopts Merski resolution celebrating Polish American heritage
Nov 18, 2020

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: Millcreek public library receives $25,000 grant
Nov 12, 2020

Merski, Harkins: $75,000 grant will fund home repairs for Erie residents
Oct 29, 2020

Merski, Bizzarro Harkins: Liquor license fee waiver will help area bars, restaurants
Oct 22, 2020

Bizzarro, Merski, Harkins: $1.5 million grant will expand Innovation Beehive, spur business growth
Oct 15, 2020

Merski alerts residents to one-stop-shop voting option
Oct 13, 2020

Merski, Harkins announce nearly $97,000 in fire grants
Oct 08, 2020

Merski, Harkins applaud administration’s move to loosen crowd limits
Oct 06, 2020

Merski, Harkins: Area food bank receives $50,000 Veterans Trust Fund grant
Sep 18, 2020

Harkins, Merski: Erie Access Improvement Grant Program now open
Sep 18, 2020

Merski, Harkins: $430,000 in grant funding to support Erie fresh food providers
Sep 17, 2020