Last week, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SWM) released its Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Budget proposal. With a total investment of $41.42 billion, the proposal continues to support vital government services, invest in our state’s strengths and confront obstacles to continued growth. I was especially pleased to see the proposed budget include substantial investments in public education, transportation, mental health treatment, and working families.
As you may know, my colleagues and I will be debating this budget proposal on the Senate floor next week. While this proposal includes significant investments and important policy initiatives, I look forward to strengthening the final Senate Budget during the amendment process. To that end, I’ve filed 24 amendments on several topics, including increasing access to mental health and substance use treatment, protecting medically complex and fragile children in the Commonwealth, securing a prevailing wage for quasi-state agency employees, and investing in community organizations and local initiatives throughout the 4th Middlesex district.
BOSTON, MA – On May 15, Representative Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington), Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), and Senator Mike Barrett (D-Lexington) raised their voices in support of transgender equal rights in the wake of the recent decision to allow a question onto the November 2018 ballot that would repeal equal protections and civil liberties for transgender individuals in Massachusetts.
“All people, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or religious identity, should be given equal protection under the law in Massachusetts,” said Senator Friedman. “At a time when our country is more divisive than ever, we must remain firm in our commitment to defending the rights and well-being of all people in our communities, especially those who have been marginalized. As a strong ally of the LGBTQ community, I will continue to stand strong against hate and discrimination in our Commonwealth by casting my vote this November to protect transgender individuals and preserve our anti-discrimination laws.”
During National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Massachusetts’ Advocacy Day, I had the chance to hear from a young man named Taylor who courageously shared a story about his terrifying experience with law enforcement as an individual with mental illness. Taylor’s story illustrates, in the clearest way possible, how important it is to train our first responders to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness, to equip them with de-escalation techniques, and to provide them with appropriate treatment referral options.
This session, I’m advocating for legislation (S.1090) that would create statewide resources for comprehensive crisis intervention training (CIT) for municipal police departments and other first responders. Taylor gave me permission to use his story, and I invite you to read it to gain a better understanding of why CIT for police officers is so important.
BOSTON – On May 10, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in voting to pass a key education reform bill to update the state’s 25-year-old funding formula.
“The Foundation Budget was meant to fully fund our public schools and to give every Massachusetts student the chance to get an adequate education, yet so many students still do not have the resources they need to achieve academic success,” said Senator Friedman. “This bill outlines the process and timeline for updating our state’s school funding formula to address educational needs and help ensure that all of our students have access to a quality education.”
BOSTON — May 2 was Kick Butts Day on Beacon Hill. Youth from high schools across the state — members of the 84 Movement dedicated to reducing tobacco use among children and teenagers — gathered and met with legislators. Rep. Sean Garballey was host for the event.
Three Arlington high school juniors, Abi Hodgdon, Erika Siegel and Elizabeth Liakos, accompanied by pediatrician Dr. Carole Allen, participated and met with aides to Sen. Cindy Friedman and Rep. Dave Rogers, as well as with Garballey. The Arlington students were nominees for the 2019 Peer Outreach Award.
By the afternoon of Wednesday, May 2, the Arlington High School entrance was covered in a rainbow of chalk drawings and messages of solidarity created by AHS students. This artwork was created in response to a hate incident that same morning where a group of young men reportedly broke into the high school, causing damage to several areas inside and spray painting homophobic and anti-Semitic graffiti near the faculty parking lot at the back of the high school.
“I was disheartened to learn that a group of young men vandalized Arlington High School property with homophobic and anti-Semitic graffiti on Wednesday morning,” said state Senator Cindy Friedman, who represents Arlington. “These hate-filled acts are despicable and do not reflect the values of our community. Every student at Arlington High should be able to go to school without feeling threatened or unwelcome.”
In their latest effort to stem the opioid epidemic, Massachusetts lawmakers took a step Thursday toward establishing mandatory three-day substance use therapy for those in peril and requiring hospitals to stock buprenorphine or other medication to counter street drugs like heroin and fentanyl.
Senator Cindy Friedman, an Arlington Democrat and the committee’s cochairwoman, said she has concerns about some provisions — including the involuntary holds. A top priority for Friedman is making access to treatment easier, especially for people with both substance use disorder and mental illness. ‘Right now, it’s really tough to get access to treatment, especially if you have a mental illness,’’ Friedman said.
A host of factors affect access to treatment, said Friedman, who listed “insurance companies; rates we pay providers; how insurance companies determine who’s in a network, who’s not in a network; the kind of treatment that’s available for in-patient.’’
BOSTON – On May 3, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in unanimously passing “The BRAVE Act” – new legislation that will expand benefits and increase access to a range of services for veterans, active-duty military and their families.
“We owe an enormous debt to the individuals who have sacrificed their personal ambitions and dreams to protect our country,” said Senator Friedman, Senate Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service. “This bill reaffirms our commitment to providing the utmost support to our veterans, service members, and military families and strengthens existing law to ensure that they have access to the services and benefits that they need to thrive in their communities.”
WOBURN – The long-awaited roadway reconstruction and related work, including traffic signals, on Montvale Avenue from I-93 to 400 feet just west of Central Street is moving along. The Mass. Department of Transportation (DOT) had solicited bids for project on April 3rd and are now reviewing the bids, including the certifying of the low bidder D&R General Contracting.
Key City officials such as Mayor Scott Galvin, DPW Superintendent Jay Duran, City Engineer John E. Corey Jr. and President Richard Haggerty of the City Council have been informed of the progress. And, major state officials representing Woburn such as Rep. James Dwyer, Jay R. Kaufman and State Senator Cindy Friedman have also been notified of the progress.
WOBURN – It is an early Saturday morning at NuPath’s headquarters on New Boston Street in Woburn. An army of volunteers, captained by NuPath’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Brett Reily, are putting the finishing touches on what has arguably been the best six weeks the Organization has ever seen in its fifty years of operation.
State Senator Cindy Friedman was one of several elected officials who ‘Walked the Walk’ and was left with a marked impression of the progressive goals on the organization. “It’s incredible that everyone here could engage at such a high level to raise that much money in such a short amount of time,” she said, looking out towards the crowd.
“All of you are the reason why (local and state elected officials) continue to fight and advocate for people living with disabilities to accomplish your mission of making life’s journey happier, healthier and more fulfilling.’”