ARLINGTON, MA — Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan was in the Washington D.C. area helping develop guidance to implement mental health service programs within the criminal justice system this week, highlighting once again that Arlington’s Police Department is at the forefront when it comes to that.
Back in about 2010, Arlington Police noticed they were often arresting and prosecuting people with behavioral health or substance use disorder. So the department started working with then Senator Donnelly’s office and his then Chief of Staff (now Senator Friedman) on grant funding to embed a mental health clinician in the police department using what is known as the co-responder model.
BOSTON – On Jan. 25, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) swiftly filed legislation in response to the recent decision by the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) to significantly reduce the number of healthcare carriers available to active and retired GIC members. The bill, An Act to ensure greater transparency at the GIC (SD.2500), received immediate praise from Senator Friedman’s colleagues and now boasts 34 Senate co-sponsors.
“I’ve heard from countless concerned families in my district who fear that they will be forced on to a new plan that may or may not allow them to keep their current doctors or continue the course of treatment that they are currently on,” Friedman explained. “I’m outraged by the lack of transparency by the GIC in making this decision and the complete lack of notice in providing specific details of the changes to those that will be highly affected by this change.”
BOSTON – On Jan. 18, state Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) was among nine senators appointed to a Committee that will review the state Senate’s sexual harassment policies and procedures, a task they have about four months to complete.
The Senate adopted an order (S.2262) to establish the committee. The order appointed Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem) as committee chair and included a May 15 deadline to report its findings and recommendations.
“We have to make it very clear that we have no tolerance for sexual harassment in the Senate and there will be strong repercussions for anyone who violates our policies,” said Senator Friedman. “We must update these policies to ensure that all Senate employees and members, as well as any individual the Senate works with never feel unsafe or feel like they can’t speak up about an incident of sexual misconduct at the State House.”
The Group Insurance Commission, relenting to days of withering criticism over its decision to limit health plan offerings to nearly 450,000 state employees and retirees, plans to reconsider that plan when it meets next week.
The move comes after Attorney General Maura Healey opened an investigation into whether the GIC properly gave notice of last week’s meeting.
The agency now says it will put a motion for reconsideration of the Jan. 18 8-5 vote on its agenda for the Feb. 1 meeting.
National Association of Government Employees President David Holway issued a statement Thursday in response to the announcement thanking the five labor representatives on the GIC and many lawmakers — include House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler, House Majority Leader Ron Mariano, Rep. James O’Day, Sen. Cindy Friedman and Sen. Karen Spilka — for speaking out against the changes.
As many of you know, last week the Group Insurance Commission (GIC) announced that the number of healthcare carriers available to active and retired GIC members would be reduced significantly. As of July 1, 2018, members and their families will no longer be able to get healthcare through Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan (except for Medicare retirees) and Fallon Health, a drastic change that will impact over 200,000 hard-working employees, retirees, and their dependents throughout the Commonwealth.
I’ve already begun to hear from concerned families in my district who fear that they will be forced on to a new plan that may or may not allow them to keep their current doctors or continue the course of treatment that they are currently on. In addition, the decision will have a real impact on those insurers – all of whom are Massachusetts companies – and their employees who have been dropped as a result of this abrupt decision that took everyone by surprise.
BOSTON — Nine senators were named Thursday to a committee that will review the state Senate’s sexual harassment policies and procedures, a task they have about four months to complete.
The Senate adopted an order (S.2262) establishing the committee, which is chaired by Salem Democrat Sen. Joan Lovely, and giving it a May 15 deadline to report its findings and recommendations.
The committee’s other members are Democrat Sens. Sonia Chang-Diaz of Jamaica Plain, Cindy Friedman of Arlington, Anne Gobi of Spencer, John Keenan of Quincy and Karen Spilka of Ashland, and Republican Sens. Don Humason of Westfield and Richard Ross of Wrentham.
BOSTON — On Tuesday, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) and Representative Denise Garlick (D-Needham) co-chaired the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery’s public hearing on H.4033, An Act relative to combatting addiction, accessing treatment, reducing prescriptions, and enhancing prevention (“The CARE Act”), filed by Governor Charlie Baker.
During the Governor’s testimony, Senator Friedman emphasized the need for the CARE Act to more directly address access barriers to mental health treatment, especially given the prevalence of individuals in the state with co-occurring conditions of substance use disorder and mental illness.
“There needs to be a greater focus on mental illness in this bill,” said Senator Friedman. “Upwards of 40-50% of individuals seeking treatment for a substance use disorder also suffer from a mental health condition. Many of these individuals choose to self-medicate with substances to manage their mental illness and do not have a clear pathway to recovery for either diagnosis.”
Late last year, voters received mailers from the Mass Fiscal Alliance directly attacking the Safe Communities Act (S.1305). These mailers were misleading, inaccurate, and solely designed to provoke backlash against the Safe Communities Act and the Commonwealth’s undocumented immigrant population.
In light of these deceitful and deeply disturbing mailers, I felt the need to clear up any confusion with regards to the intent of and provisions included in the Safe Communities Act. First and foremost, nothing in the Act offers protection or immunity to criminals. This is perhaps the biggest misconception about the bill and cannot be overstated. Instead of providing “sanctuary” to criminals as many have wrongfully argued, the bill instead explicitly permits police to arrest or detain a person in the course of a criminal investigation or prosecution when supported by probable cause that the person has committed a crime.
BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker, entering the final year of his first term, pitched the Democrat-controlled Legislature Tuesday on the idea of working with him over the coming months to improve the state’s drug addiction treatment and prevention system in what could quickly become one of the biggest debates of 2018.
Some of the many proposals in the CARE Act, which the governor filed in November, appeared to be slam-dunks with lawmakers, including the education component, while others may require more salesmanship.
PAARI founder John Rosenthal and Sen. Cindy Friedman both questioned why the bill didn’t do more to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for the role they have played in the addiction crisis and make them a partner in funding treatment and recovery.
Superintendent/Director Timothy Broadrick welcomed more than 30 guests into the machine technology shop at Shawsheen Valley Regional Technical High School on Dec. 19 for the rededication of the shop following a capital investment program with funds provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Attendees heard remarks from State Rep. James Miceli, Rep. Kenneth Gordon, Sen. Cindy Friedman, along with Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash. This rededication and ribbon-cutting ceremony brought together supporters from the business community as well as academic partners, along with students, faculty, administrators and members of the Shawsheen School Committee.