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).
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.”
BOSTON – On Nov. 2, the Massachusetts State Senate took action to prevent sexual violence on college campuses by passing comprehensive legislation to establish state-level policies for all higher education institutions in the Commonwealth.
The bill, filed by Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) who serves as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, reflects a collaborative approach by college officials, advocacy groups, students and policymakers to address the issue of on-campus sexual assaults.
“Sexual assault on college campuses can no longer be an issue that we brush aside,” said Senator Friedman (D-Arlington). “Too often, students fear reporting incidents of sexual assault and do not have access to adequate resources or training guides to assist them. This bill takes an important step in providing necessary safeguards to suppress the threat of sexual violence on our college campuses.”
BOSTON- On Nov. 1, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) was appointed Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. Friedman previously served as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service after she was sworn into the Senate in July following a special election to succeed the late Senator Ken Donnelly.
As Chair, Senator Friedman will play a significant leadership role as the Committee considers legislative matters related to behavioral health, drug detoxification, Department of Mental Health oversight, mental illness and substance use, mental illness and substance use treatment and services, and other associated issues.
“I’m honored to be appointed the Senate Chair of this Committee and to continue to fight for individuals who suffer from debilitating mental illness and substance use disorder,” said Senator Friedman. “In the midst of a mental health and opioid crisis, we need to do everything we can on the state-level to ensure that individuals with behavioral health conditions are able to get access to timely treatment that they need to manage their illness or addiction.”
BOSTON-Yesterday the Massachusetts Senate passed by a vote of 27-10 a comprehensive criminal justice reform package that updates decades old criminal sentencing laws to improve outcomes of our criminal justice system. Among the provisions included in the bill are repealing ineffective mandatory minimum sentences for low level drug offenders, reducing and eliminating over burdensome fees and fines, reforming the bail system, allowing for compassionate release for infirmed inmates, and reforms to the juvenile justice system.
“Yesterday I was proud to join my Senate colleagues in voting to pass comprehensive criminal justice reform, especially much needed reforms to our pretrial bail system,” said Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington). “Ability to pay bail should never be used as criteria to determine someone’s freedom. These reforms move our bail system away from a cash-based system to one that gives judges the necessary tools and guidelines to make informed decisions regarding pretrial release while honoring the purpose of bail – to assure someone shows up in court and does not pose a danger to the community.”
BOSTON – Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) gave her maiden Senate speech today, successfully securing passage of a dedicated funding stream for a workforce training grant program championed for years by the late Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly.
The legislation, originally filed by Senator Donnelly, and since supported by Senator Friedman, will ensure a sustainable, predictable source of annual funding for the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF). The WCTF funds regional workforce training partnerships across the state with the goal of placing unemployed and underemployed workers in jobs in high-demand industries.
In her speech, Friedman said, “This bill strengthens our workforce development system where it is needed most, providing unemployed workers a pathway to economic stability.”
BOSTON- On Oct. 24, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) and Representative Jim Dwyer (D-Woburn) joined a panel of advocates, including Woburn resident Angela Ortiz, at the Joint Committee on Public Health public hearing to testify in support of H.1959, An Act for the continuous skilled care of fragile children in the Commonwealth. The bill would establish several protections for children, adults, and their families with complex medical conditions and special in-home health care needs.
“There is a crisis in homecare for patients who need skilled, continuous care in their homes,” said Senator Friedman. “When over half of nurses leave homecare because the reimbursement is so low, children who need this help to survive suffer needlessly. At the same time, the state ends up spending far more dollars in expensive critical hospital or long -term care. The passage of this bill would help parents like Angela ensure that their child is guaranteed access to high quality, consistent nursing care that they need and deserve.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On October 23, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) participated as a guest speaker at the 6th annual Sustainable Business & Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by the American Sustainable Business Council.
Friedman spoke on a panel focused on the role of business in creating policy change at the state level. She was joined by former Massachusetts state Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich), David Fraser-Hidalgo from the Maryland House of Delegates and Mike Mielke, SVP of Energy & Environment at Silicon Valley Leadership Group.
On the panel, Friedman explained, “As a former high-tech executive, I think it is critically important for progressive businesspeople to stand up and speak out. Otherwise, the business owners’ voice in the debate is completely dominated by the usual corporate voices.”
BOSTON-On Oct. 17, the Massachusetts Senate released a report “Working Together to Improve Our Health: Right Care, Right Place, Fair Price, Recommendations from the Senate Working Group on Health Care Cost Containment and Reform,” that focuses on both short and long terms goals on how to fix our healthcare system to lower costs, improve outcomes, and maintain access. The report and accompanying draft legislation is the result of effort by a group of Senators to address the healthcare system by analyzing the best practices in other states and engaging stakeholders in a series of meetings over the last year.
“Attempts to control healthcare costs within the present private insurance system have failed, and costs have steadily consumed more state, municipal, business and household budgets,” said Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington). “This legislation is a step in the right direction in addressing rising healthcare costs that have put a strain on many families in our state. I look forward to working with my colleagues to strengthen the bill to ensure that we continue to develop the most efficient way to deliver high quality healthcare coverage to consumers at a fair price.”