New Lowell to Burlington shuttle opens job opportunities

LOWELL — Employers in Burlington hope that a new Lowell to Burlington shuttle will help them tap into the city’s labor pool. The shuttle launched last week after years of research and planning. For years employers, particularly restaurants, in Burlington have struggled to access a labor pool large enough to fill their job openings, and for years Lowell has struggled with the opposite problem – connecting residents with a wider job pool.

Hoping to address the problem, the Middlesex 3 Coalition and Burlington Area Chamber of Commerce approached Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, and Rep. Ken Gordon, D-Bedford, for help. The collaboration has resulted in $250,000 in state funding over two years and contributions from the Town of Burlington.

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Federal ruling could jumpstart MA safe drug consumption sites

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that supervised consumption sites, where individuals could use pre-acquired drugs under medical watch without facing arrest, would not violate a section of the Controlled Substances Act as government prosecutors alleged. Sen. Cindy Friedman, who served on a commission that this spring recommended the state pilot one or more sites, said the ruling ‘gives us momentum in Massachusetts to move our harm-reduction site pilot forward.’

“It is distressing that U.S. Attorney Lelling would try to create a barrier to desperately needed harm-reduction care for those suffering from a terrible illness,” Friedman said in a statement. “Conflating harm reduction sites with crack houses is ridiculous and dangerous. Establishing pilot sites is a logical, thoughtful, and humane action we must continue to push for in Massachusetts to reduce harm and save lives.”

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Friedman advocates for better treatment for patients in recovery

On September 26, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) testified before the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery on legislation she filed that would prohibit the use of correctional facilities for men who have been civilly committed under Section 35, a release from her office states. 

“Individuals struggling with substance use disorder are not criminals – they are suffering from a disease that must be treated, not punished,” said Friedman. “A jail cell is no place for someone trying to recover from and manage their illness. The passage of this bill is a moral, necessary and commonsense step in the right direction toward ending the criminalization of substance use disorder.”

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New Minuteman Tech officially completed

The student union of the new Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School was nearing capacity. The space, a large open area at the heart of the building, was filled with local politicians, school officials, media members, and students. They occupied every corner, filled in each gap, and pressed themselves up against two levels of balconies. Light streamed in from the room’s massive windows, positioned over the adjoining outdoor courtyard, to illuminate a scene years in the making: the official ribbon cutting and opening of the new school building.

After multiple attempts, Minuteman School Building Committee chairman Ford Spalding succeeded in quieting the room. Spalding’s remarks were followed by many more, including rousing speeches from State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg, Sen. Cindy Friedman, and Superintendent Ed Bouquillon. Lexington state Rep. Michelle Ciccolo presented a congratulatory citation.

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Friedman votes on Student Opportunity Act, bill passes unanimously in the Senate

BOSTON – On October 3, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in unanimously passing the Student Opportunity Act, which would invest an unprecedented $1.5 billion in Massachusetts K-12 public education. This legislation would ensure public schools have adequate resources to provide high-quality education to students across the state, regardless of zip code or income level. Assuming inflation, over time the bill could provide an estimated $2.2 billion.

“This landmark legislation will benefit every single community in my district by ensuring that each municipality has the resources necessary to provide high quality education to all students,” said Senator Friedman. “I am especially proud that this bill includes two amendments I filed in support of our state’s successful Recovery High School system. I applaud my Senate colleagues for passing such a comprehensive piece of legislation that makes a historic investment in our public education system, and makes a strong effort to increase the educational opportunity for some of the most vulnerable populations in our state.”

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Friedman, police chiefs push for bill to benefit severely injured police officers

BOSTON – On October 1, Senator Cindy F. Friedman testified in support of legislation she filed that would allow severely injured public safety officers who suffer violent and traumatic injuries in the line of duty to be eligible to receive 100% of their benefits.

“It is unconscionable and, frankly, insulting that we force police officers who have suffered a life-altering injury to go through such a burdensome and emotionally straining process to receive the benefits necessary to sustain themselves and their families after such a tragic event,” said Friedman. “I want to thank Chief Kyes, Chief Bongiorno, Bob DeNapoli, and Mario Oliveira for collaborating with our office on this initiative, and for advocating on behalf of police officers across our state. This legislation would appropriately and consistently compensate public safety officers who were injured while protecting our communities. Surely, it is the least we can do.”

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Friedman votes to protect children and first responders from harmful chemicals

BOSTON – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in voting to ban certain toxic chemical flame retardants from children’s products, including toys and nap mats, as well as in upholstered furniture, window dressings, carpeting, and bedding made or sold in the state.

“Research has shown us that using these products in the midst of a fire do not work as marketed and can cause significant harm to our first responders,” said Friedman. “Moreover, we should never be in the business of exposing our children to dangerous substances often found in their toys. I applaud Senator Creem for leading on this initiative, and commend the Senate as a whole for taking this commonsense step to protect the public.”

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Sheriffs launch treatment pilot to aid opiate-afflicted in prisons

Members of the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association has launched what it calls a landmark initiative providing expanded medication-assisted treatment options to those with opioid-use disorder at correctional facilities in seven counties.

“While we need to continue our efforts to end the criminalization of substance use disorder and mental illness, we must do everything we can to meet the needs of those who are currently incarcerated,” said Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), who helped champion the 2018 comprehensive opioid treatment bill that established the pilot.  “The creation of this program is an important and ground-breaking step toward addressing substance use disorder within corrections so that people can get the medication they need and have the opportunity to recover. I want to thank my Senate colleagues, the Governor, the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association, and all of the stakeholders involved for their collaboration and commitment to making this program a reality.”

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Hundreds turn out for screening of documentary on former hockey player Kevin Stevens

ARLINGTON — A standing room only crowd packed the Regent Theatre in Arlington for a panel on substance abuse and the premiere screening of the short documentary “Shattered” about the life of former professional hockey player Kevin Stevens.

The panelists included Stevens, two-time Stanley Cup champion and recovering addict, state Senator Cindy Friedman of Arlington, Dr. Michael Hamrock, addiction specialist from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, and Becky Savage, a self-professed hockey mom and educator, who lost her two hockey sons to OxyContin overdose at a graduation party from South Bend, Indiana.

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BCAT TV News in Depth: the ROE Act and Abortion Rights in Massachusetts

BNEWS Director Rich Hosford speaks to guests on both sides of the abortion issue about the ROE Act making its way through the Massachusetts Legislature that would re-affirm the rights laid out in Roe V. Wade and expand access to abortion by eliminating the need for parental consent for minors and allowing abortions after 24 weeks in certain circumstances.