Bipartisan group advances legislation to benefit veterans in PA

(Oct 04, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Oct. 4 – A bipartisan group of five legislators is advancing efforts to remove obstacles for military members transitioning to civilian work under a bill approved unanimously by the House Professional Licensure Committee today. House Bill 1868 – which would increase veterans’ presence on licensing boards and implement other veteran-friendly measures – was introduced by state Reps. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence; Jake Wheatley, D-Allegheny; Zach Mako, R-Lehigh/Northampton; Karen Boback, R-Lackawanna/Luzerne/Wyoming; and Dave Hickernell, R-Lancaster/Dauphin. “Pennsylvania’s military men and women give some of their prime years to serving our country,” said Sainato, who is Democratic chair of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee. “Unfortunately, many face challenges transitioning to civilian work – in part, because of licensing regulations that fail to account for military skills, training and experience. The process can prove challenging for military spouses, as well, because of frequent relocations. “Our bill would help remove those obstacles by adding more veterans and military spouses to state licensing boards, ensuring military experience is properly considered in the review process and providing expedited review, among other measures.” Mako, prime sponsor of the bill, said, “As a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard, I know how difficult it can Read more

 

Sainato: Nearly $385,000 awarded to help local students stay connected

(Oct 01, 2021)

NEW CASTLE, Oct. 1 – Grant funding of $383,660 will help ensure students in two Lawrence County school districts don’t fall behind because they lack the tech tools to stay connected. Sainato, D-Lawrence, said New Castle Area School District was awarded $273,880 – including $219,880 for technology equipment and $54,000 for internet services – and the Laurel School District was awarded $109,780 – including $104,200 for tech equipment and $5,580 for internet services. “Kids can’t compete in a modern academic setting without reliable access to technology and the internet,” Sainato said. “Unfortunately, providing those resources can be challenging for some families. Securing this funding will help Laurel and New Castle Area school districts bridge that digital divide by ensuring household income never stands in the way of connectivity.” Sainato said the grants are part of a package of $20 million in funding to school districts statewide under the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a temporary fund created through the American Rescue Plan and administered by the Federal Communications Commission. The fund helps schools and libraries cover costs associated with digital devices such as laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and broadband connectivity purchases for off-campus use by students, educators and library patrons who currently lack Read more

 

Merski: Nearly $200,000 awarded to help close digital divide in Fort LeBoeuf School District

(Oct 01, 2021)

ERIE, Oct. 1 – Grant funding of $198,000 will help level the connectivity playing field for students in the Fort LeBoeuf School District by ensuring they have access to the internet and tech resources they need to learn. Merski, D-Erie, said the funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund includes $144,000 to secure internet services and $54,000 for tech equipment. “Kids benefit greatly from online learning support outside the classroom, and access to internet and tech tools are key components of that support,” Merski said. “Unfortunately, providing that access can be difficult for some households. This funding is going to help close the digital divide by ensuring that all students stay connected.” Merski said the grant is part of a package of $20 million in funding to school districts statewide under the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a temporary fund created through the American Rescue Plan and administered by the Federal Communications Commission. The fund helps schools and libraries cover costs associated with digital devices such as laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and broadband connectivity purchases for off-campus use by students, educators and library patrons who currently lack sufficient access to broadband and connected devices. More about the awards is available here . The grant is part of the first wave of ECF Read more

 

Matzie: $140,000 awarded to help Ambridge Area School District bridge digital divide

(Oct 01, 2021)

AMBRIDGE, Oct. 1 – More than $140,000 in grant funding will help close connectivity gaps for students in the Ambridge Area School District by ensuring all students have access to internet and technology resources, state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, announced today. Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said the funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund will help schools and libraries ensure students have equal access to tech tools that are so important for off-campus learning. “Digital access is key to helping reinforce what kids learn in the classroom, but for some, access to those tools is not a given,” Matzie said. “Securing this funding will help us close the digital divide and ensure all kids have the access they need to achieve, regardless of household income.” Matzie said the program will help schools and libraries cover costs associated with digital devices such as laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and broadband connectivity purchases for off-campus use by students, educators and library patrons who currently lack sufficient access to broadband and connected devices. The funding is part of a package of $20 million in funding to school districts statewide under the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a temporary fund created through the American Rescue Plan and administered by the Federal Communications Commission. More about the awards is Read more

 

Merski partnering with LECOM to host Oct. 6 drive-through flu shot clinic

(Sep 30, 2021)

ERIE, Sept. 30 – With flu season fast approaching, state Rep. Bob Merski is partnering with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine to host a drive-through flu shot clinic from 9 to 11 a.m. Oct. 6 at his 3901 Liberty St. office. Merski said the clinic will provide a quick and easy way for residents to strengthen their immunity before flu activity intensifies. “Although it’s hard to predict the exact timing and intensity of flu season on any given year, we know influenza activity usually starts increasing in October and grows more widespread as the season wears on, peaking between December and February,” Merski said. “I’m encouraging Erie residents to get an early jump on protection now, by visiting my October 6 clinic.” Merski said participants must bring their insurance cards to get a shot. Pre-registration is not required, but participants will be asked to complete a form on-site. Residents wishing to complete the form in advance can pick up a copy at Merski’s 3901 Liberty St. office. Residents with questions should call the office at (814)-455-6319. Read more

 

Longietti: Nearly $53,000 awarded to strengthen outreach for veterans

(Sep 28, 2021)

HERMITAGE, Sept. 28 – Mercer County veterans in need will benefit from stronger support services, thanks to $52,762 in grant funding from the Veterans Trust Fund, state Rep. Mark Longietti, D-Mercer, announced today. Longietti said two separate grants – including $32,762 to the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County and $20,000 to the Mercer County Office of Veterans Affairs – from the Veterans’ Trust Fund will expand outreach to veterans in need and ensure they and their families do not face food insecurity. “Veterans devote some of their prime years to serving our country, and they often continue giving back after their service, through volunteerism and community support work,” Longietti said. “But these heroes sometimes struggle themselves. Service has its costs, and some veterans face issues such as post-traumatic stress and depression. Others – like many in our community – are still feeling the impacts of the pandemic and the threat of homelessness and food insecurity. “This funding will help ensure that the full range of services – including housing, food, employment, behavioral health counseling and other social services – are available for those who have given so much of themselves to defend our freedom.” The Veterans Trust Fund is supported by Pennsylvanians who make a $3 donation when applying for or renewing their driver’s license, photo Read more

 

Burns: Cambria awarded $17,400 to digitize veterans’ records

(Sep 27, 2021)

Funding comes from Veterans Trust Fund, donations from Pa. residents Read more

 

Burns' military tuition bill passes key Senate committee, heads to full chamber for vote

(Sep 21, 2021)

Legislation would guarantee in-state tuition for military families Read more

 

Sainato co-hosts news conference highlighting free services for veterans

(Sep 15, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 15 – Highlighting the multiple ways Veterans Service Officers can assist Pennsylvanians who served our nation was the focus of a news conference today at the state Capitol co-hosted by state Rep. Chris Sainato, D-Lawrence. Sainato, who is Democratic chairman of the PA House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, said he wants to be sure Pennsylvania veterans and their families are aware of the broad range of free services these trained, accredited professionals can provide. “For their valor and service to our nation, Pennsylvania’s veterans deserve the best programs and services our state can offer,” Sainato said. “Part of that means ensuring veterans and their families have the help they need navigating the system and accessing those services. That’s where Veterans Service Officers come in. “Pennsylvania has a broad network of trained, accredited VSOs who can assist with nearly every veteran-related service, from recovering lost paperwork and filing claims to advocating at VA hearings and helping families secure benefits. They can also help veterans review their eligibility for programs and services to determine whether they may be newly eligible based on changed circumstances or policies. “It’s invaluable assistance, and it’s all free.” The news conference was held in conjunction with “Veterans Service Officers Day at the Capitol,” which Read more

 

Burns holds ceremony honoring local military hero

(Sep 10, 2021)

Local bridge named for man who gave his life in service of his nation Read more

 

Merski, Harkins: LECOM K-9 unit benefits entire community

(Sep 10, 2021)

ERIE, Sept. 10 – With classes back in session at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, LECOM students and staff are benefiting from a new K-9 unit supported in part by a $50,000 state grant, state Reps. Bob Merski and Pat Harkins announced. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the grant will enhance security for the campus and the entire region. “Like other campuses that host year-round speaking events and community activities, LECOM will benefit greatly from the added security of a K-9 unit,” Merski said. “Police dogs do an incredible job of rooting out suspicious packages containing weapons or explosives, which is important as larger gatherings resume on campus and in the community. “The campus and the entire surrounding community are going to be safer thanks to the new addition to the force.” Harkins said: “The K-9 unit is a great addition to LECOM’s security because it adds an important layer of protection for students and staff and enhances peace of mind for everyone – including the officers responsible for campus safety. It’s great to know that the campus is joining so many others across the country that have added police dogs to their security arsenal.” The lawmakers said LECOM is assisting with startup costs for the program, which total about $80,000. Read more

 

Merski bill would help municipalities fight blight

(Sep 09, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Sept. 9 – A bill recently introduced by state Rep. Bob Merski would make it easier for municipalities to battle blight by creating a grant program to fund code enforcement efforts. Merski, D-Erie, said that under H.B. 1827 , municipalities would be able to apply for grants to help them launch new property maintenance code enforcement programs, hire inspectors for those programs or add more staff to fortify existing programs. “We need to make it easier for municipalities to break the vicious cycle that occurs when vacant, blighted properties reduce tax revenues available for public services like code enforcement, leading to further vacancies, declining property values and more people leaving the area,” Merski said. “Even before the pandemic, municipalities were struggling to keep code enforcement programs funded. COVID-19 only aggravated those problems by stretching budgets to the max. “The grant program created by my bill would give critical code enforcement efforts a shot in the arm by providing local governments the resources needed to respond to complaints, proactively root out trouble spots and carry out enforcement efforts.” Merski said the competitive grant program would be administered by the state Department of Community and Economic Development, and municipalities would be required to provide matching funds. The bill has been referred to the House Urban Affairs Committee. Read more

 

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $300,000 awarded to continue Erie opioid education, prevention programs

(Sep 08, 2021)

ERIE, Sept. 8 – Grant funding of $299,733 from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will continue an Erie pilot program to educate students about opioid dangers and help families keep kids safe, state Reps. Pat Harkins and Bob Merski announced today. The lawmakers, both D-Erie, said the funding to Family Services of NW PA will support the Erie Opioid Misuse Prevention Project – one of five pilot programs statewide that are providing evidence-based strategies to reduce risk factors that lead kids to substance abuse and other problems. “The statewide Opioid Disaster Declaration recently expired after the Republican-controlled legislature failed to extend it,” Harkins said. “At the same time, the numbers are showing that opioid overdoses spiked during the pandemic. It’s a bad combination and highlights why it is so critical to keep youth education and prevention programs going.” Merski said, “The pilot programs are evidence-based and have been working to make sure kids understand the risks of opioid use and help families develop strategies to keep kids safe and steer them away from drug use and other risky behaviors. Thanks to this funding, those programs are going to continue for another year.” The lawmakers said Erie’s program, like the other pilots, is part of the Opioid Misuse Prevention Project and operates through partnerships among counties, school Read more

 

Matzie: Nearly $400,000 awarded to educate, protect Beaver County kids from opioid risks

(Sep 08, 2021)

AMBRIDGE, Sept. 8 – More than $390,000 from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will keep Beaver County students learning about the risks of opioids and help families develop the skills to keep kids safe, state Rep. Rob Matzie announced today. Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, said the funding includes $370,805 to Community Health Challenge of Southwestern Pennsylvania to continue the Beaver County Opioid Prevention Project – one of five pilot programs statewide that team counties with school districts, local nonprofits and the community. “The Beaver County programs are teaching students in the Aliquippa, New Brighton and Rochester Area school districts how to recognize and avoid the dangers of opioid abuse,” Matzie said. “The programs are also helping families develop skills to protect kids from the risks of substance abuse and other factors that can lead them into trouble. “The programs have already helped many students and families in our district over the past two years. Securing this funding will allow them to continue for another year.” Matzie said that a second grant of $22,313 to The Prevention Network will fund the Project Towards No Drug Abuse, which supports at-risk youth. Both grants were recommended by the PCCD’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Committee and come from federal State Opioid Response funds. Read more

 

Burns, Saint Francis to launch Dolly Parton Imagination Library later this month

(Sep 07, 2021)

Children’s book program made possible thanks to state grant Read more

 

Longietti to host Senior & Health Education Fair Sept. 16

(Sep 02, 2021)

HERMITAGE, Sept. 2 – Area seniors will want to mark their calendars for state Rep. Mark Longietti’s 14th annual Senior & Health Education Fair, which is returning to Sharon later this month after a one-year hiatus. Longietti, D-Mercer, said the free event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16 at the Sharon American Legion, 1395 E. State St. “The senior fair is returning this month after a one-year hiatus, and I am pleased to be back hosting this popular event for our large, vibrant senior community,” Longietti said. “As in previous years, the fair will feature dozens of exhibits showcasing the latest products and services for seniors, from fitness and health to housing and finance. “Seniors will also find free health screenings, door prizes and valuable information on state programs and services. There’s something for everyone – I encourage everyone to come see what’s new.” Longietti said there is no need to pre-register for the event and that walk-ins are welcome. Face masks are recommended. Those interested in learning more should contact Longietti’s Hermitage office at 724-981-4655. Read more

 

Burns: Grants available to support law enforcement

(Aug 31, 2021)

Says his office stands ready to support local police Read more

 

Harkins reappointed Democratic chair of House Gaming Oversight Committee

(Aug 19, 2021)

ERIE, Aug. 19 – State Rep. Pat Harkins announced today that he has been reappointed Democratic chairman of the House Gaming Oversight Committee. Although he is not new to the role – Harkins served as Democratic chair of the committee during the 2017-18 legislative session – he said he is especially excited to be returning now, at a time when state gaming revenue is setting new records. “Pennsylvania’s gaming industry is shattering records,” said Harkins. “This week, the state Gaming Control Board reported that combined total revenue for July from all forms of gaming topped $423 million – the highest monthly revenue recorded for regulated games. That’s on top of last month’s news that gaming brought a record $3.9 billion over the past fiscal year.” Harkins said casino revenue showed especially strong gains from last summer to this one, with Erie’s own Presque Isle Downs and Casino reporting a 40% increase. “It’s great to see casinos rebounding after being shuttered by the pandemic, especially because gaming funds so many critical areas, from property tax relief to seniors’ programs to local government services and contributions to the state’s General Fund,” Harkins said. “But there are issues – including protecting those vulnerable to the risk of addiction and rooting out competition from illegal, unlicensed machines – that require attention. Read more

 

Longietti: $7,000 awarded to equip Shenango firefighters for brushfire risk

(Aug 18, 2021)

HERMITAGE, Aug. 18 – Grant funding of $7,000 will help ensure Shenango Township firefighters are equipped to handle the recurring risk of brush fires that threaten the region, state Rep. Mark Longietti announced today. Longietti, D-Mercer, said the Volunteer Fire Assistance grant to the Shenango Township Volunteer Fire Department will fund training and equipment geared toward meeting the specific challenges posed by fighting fires in dense brush. “Shenango’s volunteer firefighters are vigilant about fighting brush fires, but the work – which often requires transporting heavy water tanks through dense vegetation – never gets any less dangerous or difficult,” Longietti said. “This spring was no exception, when firefighters braved thorny terrain and other obstacles to contain multiple fires spurred on by dry conditions and high winds. “With the threat likely to recur as fall brings drier air and fallen leaves, securing this funding now will give first responders a key chance to replenish equipment and renew training so they have the resources needed to stay safe while protecting lives, wildlife and property.” The funding is part of a package of more than $600,000 in Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants to 109 volunteer fire companies in the state. The grants are administered through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and paid through federal grants from the U.S. Department of Read more

 

Conklin chosen to chair House State Government Committee

(Aug 10, 2021)

HARRISBURG, Aug. 10 – State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, has recently been appointed by House Democratic leadership to serve as the Democratic chair of the House State Government Committee. This committee primarily reviews legislation on issues ranging from voting and elections to campaign finance reform and oversees various state agencies, including the Pennsylvania Department of State, the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, the Public Employees’ Retirement System, the State Employees’ Retirement System and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission. “I am hopeful that we can bring an honest conversation to the table when it comes to governing and specifically how this committee operates,” Conklin said. “My goal is that we leave partisanship at the door and lead a committee that works for all citizens of Pennsylvania in a dignified, honest and forthright manner.” More information on the House State Government Committee, including upcoming hearings, can be found at the following link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/cteeInfo/index.cfm?Code=36&CteeBody=H . Read more

 

Bipartisan group advances legislation to benefit veterans in PA
Oct 04, 2021

Sainato: Nearly $385,000 awarded to help local students stay connected
Oct 01, 2021

Merski: Nearly $200,000 awarded to help close digital divide in Fort LeBoeuf School District
Oct 01, 2021

Matzie: $140,000 awarded to help Ambridge Area School District bridge digital divide
Oct 01, 2021

Merski partnering with LECOM to host Oct. 6 drive-through flu shot clinic
Sep 30, 2021

Longietti: Nearly $53,000 awarded to strengthen outreach for veterans
Sep 28, 2021

Burns: Cambria awarded $17,400 to digitize veterans’ records
Sep 27, 2021

Burns' military tuition bill passes key Senate committee, heads to full chamber for vote
Sep 21, 2021

Sainato co-hosts news conference highlighting free services for veterans
Sep 15, 2021

Burns holds ceremony honoring local military hero
Sep 10, 2021

Merski, Harkins: LECOM K-9 unit benefits entire community
Sep 10, 2021

Merski bill would help municipalities fight blight
Sep 09, 2021

Harkins, Merski: Nearly $300,000 awarded to continue Erie opioid education, prevention programs
Sep 08, 2021

Matzie: Nearly $400,000 awarded to educate, protect Beaver County kids from opioid risks
Sep 08, 2021

Burns, Saint Francis to launch Dolly Parton Imagination Library later this month
Sep 07, 2021

Longietti to host Senior & Health Education Fair Sept. 16
Sep 02, 2021

Burns: Grants available to support law enforcement
Aug 31, 2021

Harkins reappointed Democratic chair of House Gaming Oversight Committee
Aug 19, 2021

Longietti: $7,000 awarded to equip Shenango firefighters for brushfire risk
Aug 18, 2021

Conklin chosen to chair House State Government Committee
Aug 10, 2021