Senate Ways and Means Releases FY20 Budget Recommendations

BOSTON– On May 7, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means announced a $42.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20).  The budget recommends targeted investments to provide access to opportunity and economic vitality across the Commonwealth, and includes several local earmarks and budget priorities secured by Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington).

“This budget reflects the values of the Commonwealth by continuing to make strong investments in education, healthcare cost and accessibility, and workforce development,” said Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I applaud Chairman Rodrigues and Senate President Spilka for both the content and the process utilized in producing this budget. I look forward to participating in healthy debate alongside my colleagues in the coming weeks.”

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“ROE Act” igniting debate on women’s reproductive health

BOSTON – A bill that would expand women’s reproductive rights and loosen restrictions on abortions has ignited debate on Beacon Hill.

Supporters say the bill, commonly known as “the ROE Act,” would increase access to women’s reproductive health. Opponents, however, are concerned because the legislation would eliminate parental control for minors and allow for later abortions, with some going as far as calling it an “infanticide bill.”

Although Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, said, as a mother, she wasn’t completely comfortable with the lack of parental control, she feels strongly that the state needs to protect women and girls who need it.

“Nobody should make determinations over someone’s body other than that person or their medical professional,” she said. “It’s my body, my decision. And I feel that very strongly…Women have to be able to control their lives and their futures.”

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Bills I’m fighting for this session

I hope you are doing well and are looking forward to spring! I want to update you on all that I’ve been working on since the start of the year as well as outline my legislative priorities for the 2019-2020 legislative session.

At the start of the year, I was proud to file several bills that seek to address many of the issues the Commonwealth is facing today. These bills include proposals that expand access to mental healthcare, combat the opioid crisis, reform our criminal justice system, improve transportation infrastructure, address sexual harassment in the workplace, protect the public and gas workers from potentially dangerous gas leaks, and much more. I’m very proud of the work my office has devoted to these initiatives and I look forward to advocating for them throughout this legislative session.

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Friedman takes action on road safety, Gender X, and “Lift the Cap on Kids” legislation

BOSTON — On April 25, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in passing legislation to enhance road safety for cyclists and pedestrians, establish a non-binary option for gender on drivers’ licenses and birth certificates, and lift the so-called “Cap on Kids,” overriding Governor Baker’s recent veto of the “cap on kids” bill. All three bills passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“Earlier this year, I was devastated to hear that an Arlington resident was struck and killed after an unfortunate collision on the Minuteman Bike path in Lexington,” said Senator Friedman. “Today, I voted in favor of bicyclists and pedestrian safety legislation to ensure that an accident like this never happens again.”

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Woburn Construction Project Raises Health Concerns

WOBURN – The state legislators in the Woburn and Wilmington area wrote a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection asking for the state agency to take “urgent action” regarding the Ledges construction project at 1042 Main Street in Woburn.

Of particular concern is the 420,000 cubic yards of soil that will be removed through blasting. According to the letter, which was signed by Representatives David Robertson, Richard Haggerty and Kenneth Gordon, as well as Senators Cindy Friedman and Bruce Tarr, their biggest concern is the amount of silica dust that will be sent into the air.

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Burlington to dedicate bridge to Lance Cpl. MacDonald

Burlington will celebrate Memorial Day weekend in a special way this year as the town will come together to recognize the service and sacrifice of Lance Cpl. Gregory E. MacDonald, a former resident of the town who died during the war in Iraq.

“Coming together as a community for this bridge dedication is the perfect way for us to commemorate Memorial Day,” Friedman said. “The Cambridge Street bridge will serve as a constant reminder of Greg’s unwavering service and dedication to our country that the Town of Burlington will always honor and cherish.”

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Drug companies face scrutiny from Mass. lawmakers looking to lower cost

Members of the Health Care Financing Committee on Thursday pressed pharmaceutical industry representatives to identify ways drug manufacturers can help bring more transparency to their pricing and lower costs for consumers.

“You all have had a long time to be transparent,” Sen. Cindy Friedman, the committee’s Senate chair, said. “Pharmaceutical companies have had a long time to come to the table and say let us be as transparent as our insurance companies are and as all the other parts of health care that we patrol. You have had that opportunity, and you haven’t done it. With all due respect, we want you at the table but we need you to be equal partners and be willing to understand that you have skin in the game, we have skin in the game, everybody in this room does.”

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With health care bill, Baker is diving into a policy fight he knows well

After closed-door talks crumbled last summer, Beacon Hill is hitting reset on its pursuit of sweeping health care legislation, with one major difference: This time, Governor Charlie Baker, a former health insurance executive, will push his own plan.

Last session, the Senate was first to craft health care legislation, which sought to bolster community hospitals by setting a “floor” for the payments they receive from insurers, while penalizing big teaching hospitals if spending grew too fast.

Benson said she’s “not married” to relying on assessments to deliver funds for community hospitals. Friedman said she has not settled on an approach, either, though she cautioned that the needs of community hospitals — which often struggle to compete with Boston’s big teaching hospitals — should be addressed. “They play too big of a role in serving the neediest and most vulnerable. We cannot ignore them,” Friedman said.

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Pharma firms spend millions lobbying as Mass. lawmakers consider price controls

Pharmaceutical companies are spending millions on lobbying as lawmakers consider a bundle of bills that address rising prescription drug costs and transparency.

“Drugs are a huge contributor to health care costs, and it’s becoming, as many other parts of health care, more and more of a crisis in terms of people’s ability to pay for their health care,” state Sen. Cindy Friedman told the Herald. “We need to start with much more transparency around drug pricing, the true cost of bringing drugs to market and how those true costs relate to the cost of our drugs.”

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Mental illness and crime: Lawmakers finally focusing on population often served last

BOSTON – Massachusetts legislators involved in serious reforms of the current criminal justice are finally prioritizing those who are often served last: individuals with mental illnesses and disabilities.

Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, is also working to boost protections for the mentally ill community. One bill Friedman is presenting would establish a criminal justice and community support trust fund, which would support jail diversion programs for those with mental illnesses or substance use disorders, develop training programs for law enforcement in mental health crisis response and create ongoing community services. Another would encourage courts to direct people battling addiction toward treatment, rather than incarceration.

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