Latest News

Sainato: General Assembly passes bill to smooth professional licensing path for military members

(Jun 30, 2022)

HARRISBURG, June 30 – The General Assembly has passed legislation to make the professional licensing process more accommodating for service members, according to state Rep. Chris Sainato, one of the bill’s prime sponsors. Sainato, who is Democratic chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said he and colleagues introduced H.B. 1868 to give military applicants a smoother path through the licensing process. “Returning to civilian life poses a range of challenges for veterans, and many involve adapting to the civilian job market,” Sainato said. “Our bill would help make that transition easier for service members by ensuring that licensing boards consider an applicant’s military training and education and by making the process more convenient.” Sainato said under some of the bill’s provisions: Military applicants would have up to six months to complete continuing education requirements following deployment. Service members and spouses who are deployed when a license is due for renewal would have the option to submit their application before deployment (and DoS will hold it until the renewal window opens). There would be expedited application review for veterans and military spouses and initial licensure fee waivers for military spouses relocating to Pennsylvania. Military experience would be considered when making qualification determinations. Specific guidelines would be Read more

Burns: Protect consumers from tech companies selling personal information

(Jun 30, 2022)

Proposes ‘data broker’ registration, easier opt-out process Read more

Merski hosting Pride Month virtual town hall on June 27

(Jun 20, 2022)

ERIE, June 20 – In honor of Pride Month, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is hosting a virtual town hall at 7 p.m. Monday, June 27 to discuss topics of importance to LGBTQIA+ people in Erie. “June is Pride Month, and while it is important to celebrate the achievements and contributions of LGBTQIA+ people, it’s equally important to continue talking about the concerns, biases and issues many people still face,” Merski said. “Our virtual town hall will be a forum for folks to discuss issues that can impact opportunity and quality of life for LGBTQIA+ residents. Those are issues for our entire Erie community to address, but an open dialog is the first step. I encourage everyone to sign on and be part of that dialog.” Those interested in attending the live online Teams event should send their name and email address to Merski’s office by emailing or calling (814) 455-6319. The event will also be livestreamed on Merski’s Facebook page – @RepMerski . For more information, contact Merski’s office at (814) 455-6319. Read more

Longietti: Nearly $400,000 awarded for ‘Digital Passport’ learning project

(Jun 15, 2022)

HERMITAGE, June 15 – United Way of Mercer County and the Mercer County Career Center are receiving a $389,898 PAsmart Advancing Grant from the state Department of Education for a program that will teach area students the kinds of STEM and computer science skills needed for high-demand regional careers, state Rep. Mark Longietti announced today. Longietti, who is Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, said the “Digital Passport” program will help expand opportunities for all students – including those in underserved areas. “Collaboration will help guarantee the program’s success,” Longietti said. “Partners in the project have the knowledge and experience needed to build a curriculum that aligns with the specific needs of our region’s high-demand employers. The program will also reach students in underserved areas to ensure they have the same opportunities. “In addition to putting students on a promising career path, the program will help ensure that our region’s employers have the continuing pool of talented applicants they need to stay competitive. It’s a winning proposition all around.” Longietti said the grant is part of a package of nearly $20 million in PaSmart Advancing Grants awarded to schools statewide and designed to bolster computer science and STEM learning. More information about the grants is available here: Read more

Merski kicks off 2022 flag takeback program

(Jun 14, 2022)

ERIE, June 14 – With Flag Day here, state Rep. Bob Merski, D-Erie, is kicking off his annual flag takeback program, which allows residents to drop off their worn, torn or tattered American flags to be properly retired. Merski, who sponsors the program in partnership with Summit Township, said residents enjoy the convenience of being able to drop off flags ready to be retired. “Our flag takeback program is entering its fourth year, and we’re proud to provide this popular seasonal service to help folks prepare for the Fourth,” Merski said. “Residents can leave their faded, tattered flags with us and have the peace of mind of knowing they will be properly retired, with all the respect Old Glory deserves.” Merski said residents can drop off flags at the following office locations: District office - 3901 Liberty St., 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Summit office - 1230 Townhall Road W., 12:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. every Tuesday. The program will run through July 4. ATTN EDITORS/ASSIGNMENT DESKS: Rep. Merski’s comments about the program are available here: Read more

Merski, Harkins: Nearly $1 million awarded to expand housing assistance

(Jun 10, 2022)

ERIE, June 10 – Erie County organizations are receiving $970,000 in funding to expand housing-related services for families in need, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund will address a range of different needs that open doors for residents. “This funding will strengthen programs across the board for residents facing housing challenges,” Merski said. “Some of those dollars will support our most vulnerable residents, including folks in crisis, by strengthening resources for area shelters, while other funding will support home repair programs and programs to help families working toward first-time homeownership. All of the funding comes at an important time, when folks are still building back from the impacts of the pandemic.” Harkins said, “The stability that comes with having a home gives parents and caregivers the peace of mind to know their kids are safe, gives families the support of a caring community and provides people with the freedom and confidence to find work. Securing this funding today is going to help get those keys to self-sufficiency into the hands of more Erie residents in need.” The funding includes: $200,000 to Greater Erie Community Action Committee for the Corridor of Opportunity program. Read more

Longietti: Mercer County programs receiving more than $130,000 for housing counseling, ‘Lots to Love’ programs

(Jun 09, 2022)

HERMITAGE, June 9 – Mercer County organizations are receiving $133,000 from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement Fund to support a housing and budget counseling program and help continue the successful Lots to Love program, state Rep. Mark Longietti announced today. Longietti, D–Mercer, said the funding includes $40,000 to the Community Action Partnership of Mercer County to support programs that help lower-income residents acquire the money management and budgeting skills needed for home ownership. “Community Action Partnership has played a key role in helping low- and middle-income families in our community navigate the path to home ownership through housing counseling and an incentive-based budget counseling program that matches participants’ investments,” Longietti said. “The funding awarded today is going to ensure the partnership can keep that program and those incentives flowing to low-income families needing them.” Longietti said an additional $93,000 will allow the organization to continue the successful Lots to Love program. “Lots to Love has been incredibly successful at helping the City of Sharon repurpose vacant lots in ways that invite investment and development,” Longietti said. “Securing this additional funding will bolster the program to continue stabilizing neighborhoods and also help Community Action Partnership create a Read more

Sainato: $800,000 awarded for Lawrence County affordable housing, blight-fighting projects

(Jun 09, 2022)

HARRISBURG, June 9 – Four projects to fight blight and expand affordable housing are receiving a combined $800,000 in funding from the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement fund, state Rep. Chris Sainato announced today. Sainato, D-Lawrence, said the funding comes at an important time. “With housing costs rising, expanding the supply of affordable housing is more important than ever, especially for seniors and others on a fixed income,” Sainato said. “The funding awarded today will expand these important programs and also fund the blight remediation needed to encourage further development.” A breakdown of the funding: $300,000 to the Lawrence County Department of Planning and Community Development for a blight removal program that works with stakeholders to identify “tipping-point” neighborhoods in which public intervention has the potential to kickstart private investment. $250,000 to the Redevelopment Authority of Lawrence County to support the Countywide Housing Rehabilitation and Blight Removal Program being implemented. $200,000 to Urban Commonwealth CDC Inc. for the proposed New Horizons Senior Living project, a 55+ mixed income housing development in New Castle. $50,000 to Housing Opportunities of Beaver County Inc., to expand the first-time homebuyer program in Lawrence Read more

Erie awarded $37,500 for historical site survey, Old Customs House renovation

(Jun 09, 2022)

ERIE, June 9 – Erie is receiving two grants from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission: $25,000 to fund a historical site survey and $12,500 for the first phase of a project to preserve the Erie Art Museum’s Old Customs House, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the survey will help bring more of Erie’s past to light. “While much of Erie’s rich history is memorialized in treasures like the Brig Niagara, Presque Isle Light and Dickson Tavern, other markers of our past have yet to be discovered and preserved,” Merski said. “The survey funded by this grant is going to help us identify all historic resources within the city – including sites and landmarks that may be eligible for National Register of Historic Places designation – so they can add chapters to our unique story.” Harkins said the Old Customs House renovation is an important preservation project. “The Old Customs House contains more than 400 of the Erie Art Museum’s pieces and hosts several exhibitions yearly, but the structure is nearly two centuries old, and in significant need of preservation. This funding will help get that important project underway.” The funding is part of a package of Keystone Historic Preservation Grants awarded statewide and funded through the Keystone Recreation, Read more

Longietti: Nearly $90,000 awarded for program to bolster restrictive probation, reduce recidivism among nonviolent offenders

(Jun 08, 2022)

HERMITAGE, June 8 – Mercer County is receiving $89,997 to support a restrictive probation program designed to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes among substance use disorder offenders, state Rep. Mark Longietti announced today. Longietti, D–Mercer, said the funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency is an effective way to help nonviolent offenders transition back to the community. “Restrictive supervision probation programs help lower recidivism rates by giving people convicted of nonviolent drug- and alcohol-related offenses the treatment they need for a fresh start,” Longietti said. “The funding awarded today will ensure the Mercer County program has the staff, drug-testing equipment and supplies, and laboratory fees needed to vigilantly monitor offenders and keep them on the path to remaining drug and alcohol free.” The funding was recommended by PCCD’s County Adult Probation and Parole Advisory Committee. More about the committee is available here . Read more