Treat substance use disorder like disease it is Commonwealth Magazine

MASSACHUSETTS CONTINUES TO LOOK for new answers to the opioid crisis. Despite changes to state law to require insurance coverage for inpatient substance use disorder treatment, despite the increased availability of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone (Narcan), and despite significant investments in substance use prevention programs in our communities, this disease continues to claim lives and devastate families and entire neighborhoods.

Yes, a disease – I use that word intentionally. Substance use disorder arises in individuals exposed to opioids who have a genetic predisposition, history of trauma, or both. The shameless peddling of opioids by the pharmaceutical industry has resulted in widespread exposure to opioids. In individuals with substance use disorder, brain chemistry changes in ways that reinforce the disease.

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Mass. lawmakers advocating for harm-reduction pilot program to curb opioid crisis Boston25

BOSTON – A group of state lawmakers are pushing for a controversial pilot program aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. The program would open safe spaces for people to inject drugs — called “supervised injection sites.” That term is commonly used around the world, but Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Middlesex) uses the term “harm reduction site.” She says it includes the goal she’s fighting so hard for: reducing harm for injection drug users and communities.

“This is about being serious and putting our words into action,” Sen. Friedman said. “If this were another illness, another disease and there was evidence there was a procedure out there that was working for a lot of people, we wouldn’t even think twice about it.”

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Massachusetts Senate Passes Automatic Voter Registration

BOSTON – Today, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in voting to pass H.4671, An Act automatically registering eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud. The legislation creates a framework in which eligible voters will be automatically registered to vote when receiving services from the Registry of Motor vehicles, MassHealth, and other participating state agencies. The framework will be overseen and implemented by the Secretary of State.

“Nearly 700,000 residents are eligible to vote in Massachusetts, yet persistent barriers and confusion about the registration process make it more difficult for people to register to vote,” said Senator Friedman. “We should be making it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, not harder. This bill will ensure that eligible voters have fair and equal access to our state election process, encourage greater participation in the political process, increase voter turnout and ultimately strengthen our democracy.”

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Senate Passes Legislation to Clarify Mass Teachers Retirement System Enrollment Process

BOSTON – Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed S.2592, An Act relative to the Massachusetts teachers retirement system, sponsored by Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). The bill would improve the enrollment process for new members of the Massachusetts Teachers Retirement System (MTRS) or new teacher members of the Boston Retirement System (BRS) who have previous creditable service in another Massachusetts contributory retirement system.

“Nearly 2,000 members of the MTRS and BRS may have been impacted by confusion on an election notice to opt-in to the Retirement Plus program,” said Senator Friedman, Senate vice chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service. “The purpose of this legislation is to create a more streamlined and transparent process for those who wish to participate in the program and avoid any misunderstanding about enrollment in the future.”

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Massachusetts Senate condemns Trump family separation policy

Like many of you, I’ve been heartbroken and sickened by the news lately.  Immigrant families are being torn apart, children are being forced into detention sites that resemble prison cells, and the federal government is showing no mercy. Our American values are under threat by a “leader” in the White House who refuses to show an ounce of decency and compassion toward the most vulnerable.

Any parent understands that separating children from their families is cruel and inhumane. Furthermore, refusing to provide safety to someone seeking asylum from violence in their country of origin is unconscionable. We have a serious, moral crisis on our hands, and we have to stand up and do something about it.

In response, I recently joined my colleagues in co-signing a letter to President Trump, condemning his actions and demanding that he take swift action to reunite every family that has been separated.

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Senate passes several bills, including support for Local Access TV

BOSTON – On June 28, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in passing a number of bills, including legislation that would require cable companies to provide High Definition (HD) capability to local Community Access channels to enhance the viewer’s experience and likelihood of accessing Public, Education and Government (PEG) programming.

“Keeping our residents engaged and informed is vitally important for the strength of our democracy,” said Friedman. “Making local news more accessible and appealing to our residents by switching to HD will boost civic engagement, allow our residents to have a more direct role in their communities, and benefit our Commonwealth as a whole.”

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Senate takes action to prevent wage theft

BOSTON– On June 21, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) voted in favor of several bills, including legislation that would help prevent the illegal practice of wage theft and promote employer accountability. The bill, S.2327, gives the state greater power to go after wage violators and provides additional tools for the Attorney General’s office to hold violators fully accountable.

“Thousands of workers are stripped of their hard-earned wages every year in Massachusetts,” said Senator Friedman, a member of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. “This illegal practice has continually impacted our workers, their families, and our communities, and it’s time for it to end. This important bill takes necessary steps to impose worker protections to prevent wage theft and hold employers accountable, ensuring that every worker receives the pay they are entitled to.”

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Angela Ortiz of Woburn named as an Unsung Heroine

BOSTON – On Wednesday, June 20, Angela Ortiz of Woburn was honored as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s (MCSW) 2018 class of Unsung Heroines. Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) nominated Angela for this recognition because of her tireless efforts advocating on behalf of children with complex medical needs in the Commonwealth. Angela was honored with 130 other Unsung Heroines for her outstanding contributions to her community in a ceremony at the State House.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Angela to move important legislation forward in the State House to protect medically vulnerable children in the Commonwealth who require specialized in-home care to manage their complex medical conditions,” said Senator Friedman. “Time and time again, Angela has demonstrated her ability to fight for what is right and never back down on the issues she cares about. I’m so proud to represent such a caring and dedicated individual in the state Senate.”

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Sen. Friedman casts vote for “Grand Bargain,” raising minimum wage to $15 an hour and establishing a statewide paid family medical leave program

BOSTON—On June 20, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) voted in favor of legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, establish a paid family and medical leave program, and create a permanent sales tax holiday. The bill, H.4640, is the product of months of deliberation between lawmakers, activists, and business groups.

“As our state becomes more expensive to live in, the need to ensure that our workers earn a living wage becomes more important,” said Friedman, a member of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. “The compromise legislation passed by the Legislature will benefit low-income workers throughout the Commonwealth while providing a boost to our overall economy. This is a huge victory for Massachusetts working families and I’m so proud to have played a role in the ‘Fight for 15’!”

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