BOSTON – Last night, Senator Friedman joined legislative colleagues to pass bipartisan legislation that updates the existing statute relative to English language education in the Commonwealth’s public schools. An Act relative to language opportunity for our kids, also known as the LOOK bill, promotes research-based best practices for programs serving English learners (EL).
“Our current one-size-fits all mandate has become a barrier to educational success for many English language learners in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman (D-Arlington). “The LOOK bill eliminates this mandate and gives parents and teachers greater flexibility to use the most effective educational programs that meet the individual needs of students in our state. We must continue to look for more ways to adapt to the changing needs of our students so that they have the tools they need to succeed in school and in their future careers.”
BOSTON – On Nov. 14, The Massachusetts Senate voted 27-0 to enact H.4009, An Act advancing contraceptive coverage and economic security in our state, better known as the ACCESS Bill. In October, the bill was revised as a result of a compromise between legislators, the Coalition for Choice, and a group of Massachusetts insurance carriers – who now vocally support the legislation.
“At a time when women’s health and reproductive rights are under unprecedented attack at the federal level, Massachusetts has taken the lead once again to safeguard over 1 million women who depend on access to no-copay birth control and to expand coverage for everyone. All women, regardless of economic status, should have access to affordable birth control of their choice, and the ACCESS Bill guarantees that,” said Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington).
On Thursday, the Senate passed the HEALTH Act (S.2202) by a vote of 33-6. The bill focuses on both short and long term goals to lower costs, improve outcomes, and expand access to care.
Key elements of the legislation include:
- More effective care delivery, including increased access to telemedicine and mobile integrated health services.
- Strategies for reducing avoidable hospital readmissions and unnecessary emergency department use, including measures to improve access to behavioral health services.
- Greater provider versatility, including expanded scope of practice for many practitioners including dental therapists, optometrists, podiatrists, and advanced practice nurses.
- Greater oversight and transparency in drug costs. Opportunity for lower costs through bulk purchasing arrangements, including a multistate drug purchasing consortium.
Senator Cindy Friedman took part in an interview with Invested, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s new community development magazine, to discuss Senate Bill 1000, An Act establishing fair scheduling practices for employees in the Commonwealth.
“The bill addresses the issue of constantly changing work shift schedules,” said Senator Friedman. “The purpose of the bill is to create predictable schedules for workers. This has become an issue particularly in big-box stores and fast-food restaurants because of the availability of software that tracks moment-to-moment, day-to-day, and week-to-week sales and trends and allows an employer to change a shift schedule in a minute. We’ve worked on two different versions of the bill. The first version more broadly addressed all of the issues that come up because of just-in-time and on-call scheduling. The most recent version hones in on on-call scheduling and treats being on call the same as being physically present. The language that we filed this year basically says that if you’re on call, you get paid, because you can’t do anything else during the time you’re on call—you’re working. It’s only fair.”
For the second time in six months, the Massachusetts State Senate has approved a proposal that would grant Mass Retirees direct representation on the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC).
The proposal was filed by our Association as an amendment to S2202, An Act furthering health empowerment and affordability, which aims to gain control over rising healthcare costs. Joining Mass Retirees in backing the amendment was each of the state’s public employee unions and the Mass. AFL-CIO.
Senators Michael Brady and Cindy Friedman took the lead as the main sponsors of Amendment #87. They were joined by nine Senate colleagues as cosponsors: Feeney, Cyr, McGee, Boncore, Timilty, Gobi, Eldridge, O’Connor and Montigny.
The state Senate approved at the stroke of midnight Thursday, Nov. 9, a wide-ranging bill that seeks to control the rising costs of medical care and prescription drugs, including a controversial plan that would fine hospitals if spending rises too fast.
Sen. Cindy Friedman joined the majority in the 33-6 vote. The Arlington Democrat said she is pleased that the bill’s final version included several of her amendments related to improving access to treatment for mental health and substance-use disorders.
“This robust legislation takes necessary steps to contain health-care costs for everyone while continuing to deliver quality care and access to services,” she said in a Nov. 10 news release. “Going forward, we have to continue to work together to level the playing field and look for ways to ensure that someone with an acute behavioral health condition has the same access to health-care coverage as an individual with medical and surgical needs.”
State Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, will speak at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Temple Shalom Emeth, 16 Lexington St., Burlington.
She will speak at the meeting of L’Chaim, a new social group established by the temple. “Soup and Salad with Cindy” begins at 12:30 p.m. in the social hall. The new temple group, L’Chaim, was established a few months ago for retirees to get together for social and educational conversation. Members hope the monthly meetings will help build a community-center environment and encourage more participation in temple life.
Temple Shalom Emeth serves local communities including Burlington, Bedford, Billerica, Lexington, Reading, Wilmington and Woburn. Its rabbi, Susan Abramson, is the longest serving female rabbi in Massachusetts.
BOSTON-On Nov. 9, Senator Friedman joined her colleagues in the Senate to pass sweeping healthcare reform legislation S.2022, An Act Furthering Health Empowerment and Affordability by Leveraging Transformative Health Care. The HEALTH Act, which passed by a vote of 33-6, focuses on both short and long-term goals on how to fix our healthcare system to lower costs, improve outcomes, and maintain access.
“This robust legislation takes necessary steps to contain healthcare costs for everyone while continuing to deliver quality care and access to services,” said Senator Friedman (D-Arlington). “I’m very pleased that the final version of the bill included several of my amendments related to improving access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Going forward, we have to continue to work together to level the playing field and look for ways to ensure that someone with an acute behavioral health condition has the same access to healthcare coverage as an individual with medical and surgical needs.”
The Lexington Board of Selectmen, School Committee and Planning Board met with Lexington’s State House delegation at a joint meeting Monday, Nov. 8. state Sen. Cindy Friedman, state Sen. Michael Barrett and state Rep. Jay Kaufman shared their views on State House priorities. The trio also fielded questions from the Lexington officials on hand, in a wide-ranging discussion that aimed to square up local, state—and at times, national—issues.
At the outset, each of the state legislators updated those on hand about the Beacon Hill happenings that were at the forefront of their minds.
Selectmen, School Committee members and Planning Board members then had the chance to ask questions from a predetermined list of 12 legislative topics of interest (plus three additions provided on-site by School Committee members).
On Oct. 27, the Massachusetts Senate passed an omnibus criminal justice reform bill, an issue which State Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, has been a supporter of since her election campaign this summer.
The bill, which features 240 sections, was introduced to the senate by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary in 2017. The bill highlights areas of the criminal justice system, like diversion programs, decriminalization and criminal penalties and procedures, that Friedman noted had not been looked at comprehensively for some time.
“I feel that on a lot of different levels we need to update our criminal justice system so the focus is on incarcerating less people,” said Friedman.