Friedman Votes to Pass Senate’s Fiscal Year 2023 Budget

Bill makes record investments in early education, mental health, substance use treatment and reproductive health care

(BOSTON – 5/27/2022)  Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday to pass a $49.78 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). Advanced with unanimous support, the budget makes significant, critical and targeted investments in the areas of education, health care, housing and community supports to meet the on-the-ground challenges brought on by the global pandemic and ongoing financial uncertainty.

“The budget that passed the Senate today continues our commitment to funding the urgent needs of our residents, including increased funding for housing, education, child care, and assistance for families,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This budget addresses the mental health crisis in Massachusetts by creating the Behavioral Health Access and Crisis Intervention Trust Fund, which will fund crisis supports and a new behavioral health crisis hotline. And while we know there is more need and more to do, this budget makes significant progress in these areas. I am also incredibly proud that Amendment #388, which I filed, was adopted. This amendment will enhance protections for residents, visitors and providers engaged in lawful reproductive and gender-affirming health care in the Commonwealth.”

The Senate’s FY23 budget includes a total of $49.78 billion in spending with $854.4 million deposited into the state’s rainy-day fund, bringing that account’s total to $6.74 billion. Structured upon a consensus revenue estimate of 2.7 per cent growth, the budget also funds Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) at $1.231 billion.… Read more.

Friedman Amendment Protecting Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Care Adopted by the Senate

Amendment includes protections for receiving and providing critical care in the Commonwealth

(BOSTON – 05/25/2022) Today, the Massachusetts State Senate adopted Amendment #388, sponsored by Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), to S.4, the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The amendment seeks to block other states’ laws from attempting to interfere with legally protected health care activity in Massachusetts, as a growing number of states seek to limit access to reproductive or gender-affirming rights outside of their state’s borders. States like Texas and Oklahoma have already passed so-called “bounty laws” that enable a resident of their state to bring a civil suit against someone in another state who provides, aids, or abets a resident of Texas or Oklahoma in receiving an abortion in another state, even if care in that other state is entirely legal.

“We are now faced with a situation where another state, in state laws enacted by their Legislature, is threatening the rights of law-abiding residents in our commonwealth for engaging in activities legal under our laws enacted by our duly elected Legislature here in Massachusetts,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This is an egregious and direct attack on a state’s ability to make their own laws and protect their own residents.”

Under Friedman’s amendment, physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, psychologists and social workers would be insulated from facing any licensing consequences in Massachusetts as a result of providing reproductive or gender-affirming care.

The Governor in many instances would be prevented from extraditing someone to a different state to face charges for an abortion or gender dysphoria treatment or another protected service, and Massachusetts law enforcement agencies would be prohibited from assisting any investigation by federal authorities, another state or private citizens related to legally protected reproductive and gender-affirming health care provided in the Commonwealth.… Read more.

Senate Ways and Means Releases Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Recommendations

(BOSTON– 5/10/22) The Senate Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday announced a $49.68 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). A fiscally responsible and forward-looking plan, the Committee’s budget seeks to ensure the long-term economic health of the Commonwealth through increased investments in areas such as education, health care and housing so that Massachusetts residents can continue to move forward together. Above all, the proposal is intentional and targeted in its approach to providing support to those who continue to face challenges brought on by the global pandemic and ongoing financial uncertainty.

“The FY23 budget introduced today by the Senate continues our dedication to investing in the people of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Extraordinary events have occurred during the past few years that have upended the lives of too many. This budget continues to prioritize essential government services and programs, including early childhood and education programming and healthcare services, as Massachusetts continues to recover from the pandemic.”

The Committee’s budget recommends a total of $49.68 billion in spending, a $2.07 billion increase over the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) General Appropriations Act. This spending recommendation is based on a tax revenue estimate of $36.915 billion for FY 2023, representing 2.7 per cent growth, as previously agreed upon during the consensus revenue process in January. With tax revenue collections exceeding expectations, the Committee’s FY 2023 budget avoids the use of one-time resources, helping to ensure that the Commonwealth continues to responsibly grow healthy reserves, address immediate needs and weather future uncertainty.… Read more.

Senate Passes Work and Family Mobility Act

Bill passed with veto proof majority allows drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants

(BOSTON – 05/05/2022) The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday passed An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility. The Work and Family Mobility Act would allow Massachusetts residents who lack federal immigration status to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license, which does not include a REAL ID. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voted in favor of the bill which passed with a veto proof majority.

“The law enforcement community, advocacy groups and immigrants across the Commonwealth have made it clear that allowing those who lack federal immigration status to drive will make our roads safer and will make our communities more welcoming to immigrant families, many of whom have children who are United States citizens,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill is the product of years of advocacy, and I am so proud of everyone that worked so hard to see this initiative through. I am also glad that my colleagues help pass this legislation with a veto proof majority in both chambers, getting us one step closer to making this law a reality and ensuring it benefits families all over Massachusetts.”

The bill has received widespread support from members of the law enforcement community, advocacy groups, and members of the immigrant community. It proposes strict identity documentation criteria, asking for applicants to present two valid, unexpired identity documents. It makes no change to existing law requiring that all driver’s license applicants prove that they live in the Commonwealth.… Read more.

Senate to Debate Work and Family Mobility Act Next Thursday

(BOSTON – 04/28/2022) The Massachusetts State Senate announced plans today to debate An Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility at a formal session next Thursday, May 5, 2022. The Work and Family Mobility Act, filed by Senators Brendan Crighton and Adam Gomez, would allow Massachusetts residents who lack federal immigration status to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license, the non-REAL ID license.  Senator Cindy F. Friedman was present alongside her colleagues at a press conference announcing the plans for the legislation.

“The law enforcement community, advocacy groups and immigrants across the Commonwealth have made it clear that allowing those who lack federal immigration status to drive will make our roads safer and will make our communities more welcoming to immigrant families, many of whom have children who are United States citizens,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill is long overdue – there are several compelling moral and public safety arguments for moving this legislation forward, and it’s beyond due time that we act on this. I look forward to supporting this legislation in the Senate next week.”

The bill, which received a favorable report from the Senate Committee on Rules earlier today, has received widespread support from members of the law enforcement community, advocacy groups, and members of the immigrant community. It proposes strict identity documentation criteria, asking for applicants to present two valid, unexpired identity documents. It makes no change to existing law requiring that all driver’s license applicants prove that they live in the Commonwealth.… Read more.

Senate Passes Major Climate Bill

Package also includes bills focused on home heating oil and public land protection

(BOSTON – 04/20/2022) Amid alarming reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate on Thursday, April 14, 2022 to pass S.2819, An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward, or the Drive Act. The bill addresses climate change in three primary areas—clean energy, transportation, and buildings—with the aim of achieving the Commonwealth’s ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, which the Legislature codified into law in 2021.

“The Senate is committed to taking meaningful action to combat climate change on behalf of the residents in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The Drive Act continues these efforts by addressing some of the major challenges before us and seizing opportunities to respond, including expanding clean energy initiatives, encouraging the use of electric vehicles, and promoting the construction of energy-efficient green buildings. This, coupled with the passage of bills to help homeowners address oil spills and to protect our open spaces, marks a momentous step forward in our efforts.”

Clean Energy

Around 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in Massachusetts come from the power plants that fuel its energy grid, making support for clean energy alternatives necessary to meet the Commonwealth’s goal of having net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Recognizing this, the Drive Act includes significant provisions to deploy clean energy infrastructure, including those related to offshore wind energy, solar energy, and energy storage.… Read more.

Friedman, Senate Pass CROWN Act

Bill prohibits discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles

(BOSTON – 04/01/2022) The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday, March 31, passed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act, which prohibits discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles in workplaces, school districts, and any school-related organizations. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), voted in favor of the legislation, which passed the Senate unanimously.

“A person’s natural hair is an extension of themself, and it is due time that we take action to prevent race-based hair discrimination in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I thank my colleagues who so passionately advocated on this issue and for their work on the CROWN Act, and I look forward to seeing this bill become law soon.”

“As a racial equity champion who developed the legislative and social impact strategy for the national CROWN Act movement on behalf of the CROWN Coalition, I applaud today’s Senate vote”, said Adjoa B. Asamoah, CROWN Coalition Co-Creator. “Tackling injustice and protecting people’s civil rights require moral leadership. I thank Representative Steve Ultrino who championed the bill in the House with cosponsor Representative Chynah Tyler, in addition to Senators Adam Gomez and Sal DiDomenico for their leadership and partnership to outlaw race-based hair discrimination in Massachusetts.”

The CROWN Act would prohibit discrimination based on hairstyles by incorporating hair texture, hair type and protective hairstyle into the definition of race in the Massachusetts General Laws.… Read more.

Friedman, Senate Pass $1.65 Billion Supplemental Budget

Bill addresses COVID-19 response, housing assistance, restaurant supports, and help for Ukrainian refugees

(BOSTON – 03/24/2022) Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed a $1.65 billion supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voted along with a majority of her colleagues to pass the legislation. The legislation makes investments in the state’s long-term COVID-19 response; addresses staffing shortages in schools; provides support for home and community-based services, assistance and protections for families experiencing housing and energy insecurity; funds winter road improvements; extends outdoor dining services as well as beer, wine and cocktails to-go, and provides for the resettlement of Ukrainian refugees in Massachusetts. Notably, the bill also would divest the state pension fund from Russian assets in response to the Russian war in Ukraine.

“The Senate’s supplemental budget embraces our strong financial outlook in the Commonwealth by investing a substantial amount in meaningful services and programs that will provide direct relief to our residents and municipalities,” said Senator Friedman, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “As we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, housing assistance, public school aid, and relief payments for utility bills remain critically important to many working families.”

Responding to COVID-19

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure robust preparation in the event of a future variant outbreak, the bill invests $700 million for the state’s COVID-19 response. This funding would ensure the continued no-cost availability of crucial services offered to residents during the pandemic, including on-site testing, vaccinations, and treatment, as well as public health staffing needs resulting from COVID-19.… Read more.