Senate Advances Genocide Education Bill

BOSTON (10/21/2021) – On Thursday October 21, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate in passing An Act concerning genocide education to require every middle school and high school in the Commonwealth to include instruction on the history of genocide and to promote the teaching of human rights issues. Similar legislation was advanced by the Senate in prior sessions, but this most recent iteration comes as incidences of hate and anti-Semitism are on the rise across the country, with several incidents reported in Massachusetts over the past year.

“The limited knowledge and understanding that many young people have of the Holocaust and other instances of genocide is alarming,” said Senator Friedman, Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Education and learning about the history of genocide – and the painful consequences of ignorance, bigotry and intolerance – is a critical tool in dismantling hate in our Commonwealth. I thank Senator President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, Senator Lewis, and my Senate colleagues for taking this important step toward equipping the next generation with the knowledge and the resources they need to recognize and dispel hate and ignorance in our communities.”

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Senate Passes Landmark Voting Reform Legislation

BOSTON (10/06/21) – On October 6, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to pass S.2545, An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security (the VOTES Act). This comprehensive voting reform bill permanently codifies the popular mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020. The bill would also enact same-day voter registration, increase ballot access for service members serving overseas, and make a series of other improvements to the Commonwealth’s election administration process.

“At a time when voting rights are under unprecedented attack across the country, I’m proud to live in a state that continually searches for opportunities to promote and expand voter participation,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways & Means. “This historic bill strengthens our democracy and continues to ensure that Massachusetts voters can safely and easily exercise their fundamental right to vote. I applaud Senator President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and Senator Creem and Finegold for their leadership and commitment to this issue.”

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Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes on FY22 Budget Provisions

BOSTON (9/30/21) – On Thursday, September 30, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate in taking final action to override a series of gubernatorial vetoes on the state budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). In restoring key provisions of the budget, the Senate will ensure that a greater portion of the Commonwealth’s vulnerable populations receive vital support from the state, that long-term studies of poverty and higher education affordability are carried out, and that regional transit authorities are sufficiently funded to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic, along with other items.

“Thanks to the leadership of Senate President Spilka and the work of Chair Rodrigues and the entire Ways and Means committee, we are able to fulfill our commitments made during budget deliberations to safeguard the health and wellness of some of our most vulnerable populations,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. “By overriding these vetoes, we are also able to strengthen our regional transit, update our tax codes, and support our retirees, all while leaving the Commonwealth in a strong fiscal position.”

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Massachusetts State Senate Passes Healthy Youth, Gender ID and Student Nutrition Bills

BOSTON (09/23/21) – On Thursday, September 23, 2021, the Massachusetts Senate passed three bills that would provide students with age-appropriate, medically accurate and inclusive sex education; allow a non-binary option other than male or female on birth certificates and drivers licenses; and ensure that more children in Massachusetts have access to nutritious school meals. These bills all provide essential building blocks to ensuring a safe, healthy, inclusive, and resilient Commonwealth.

“I gladly voted for these bills, which reflect the Senate’s commitment to continue supporting the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Every student should have access to nutritious school meals and to medically accurate, inclusive sex education curricula. Likewise, every person should be able to claim accurate gender identity information on their drivers’ license. Thank you to the Senate President, the Chair of Ways and Means, and my colleagues in the Senate that advocating so passionately for our children, students, friends, and neighbors.”

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Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes on Fiscal Year 2022 Funding

BOSTON (07/29/21) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate overturned Governor Baker’s vetoes on certain items in the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget passed in the Legislature earlier this month. The actions taken by the Senate will ensure adequate funding for school districts, regional transit authorities (RTAs), and public and mental health supports, as well as the implementation of last year’s landmark police reform bill. Additionally, action by the Senate reinstates certain guidance relevant to state bodies such as the MBTA and prison facilities.

“Overriding the Governor’s vetoes on parts of the Fiscal Year 2022 budget was necessary to safeguard the health and wellness of some of our most vulnerable populations,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “These vetoes allow the Disability Law Center to continue to play an important role in protecting persons served at Bridgewater State Hospital, as well as restore funding for a crucial study to help us analyze the existing and anticipated impacts of the pandemic on children’s behavioral health. I would like to thank Senate President Spilka, Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and my colleagues for their swift action in reinstating these vital provisions.”

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Massachusetts Legislature Passes $261.6 Million FY 2021 Supplemental Budget

BOSTON (07/21/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature in passing a $261.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). The FY21 supplemental budget addresses time-sensitive deficiencies, extends expanded voting options, provides supports for the implementation of the 2020 landmark police reform law, and makes investments to support the Commonwealth’s continued recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continuing to pave the way to an equitable recovery, the supplemental budget includes $191 million to provide support and stability for our early educator workforce, $27.9 million for one-time economic relief payments to families on transitional assistance, and $12.5 million for costs associated with the implementation of last session’s landmark police reform bill.

“As we continue to recover from the effects of the pandemic, we must maintain funding for critical services throughout the Commonwealth, which this supplemental budget allows us to do,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Through this budget, we are making important investments in our early education and care system, reforming the representation of the MBTA’s governance and management board to better reflect the population it serves, and ensuring voter access by extending mail-in and early voting options.”

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Massachusetts Legislature Passes Bill Authorizing $350 Million in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure

BOSTON (07/15/2021) – The Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill that will invest $350 million in municipal transportation and selected statewide transportation infrastructure projects. The bill, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, authorizes $200 million for municipal roads and bridges through the Chapter 90 program and $150 million to support statewide projects to address congestion, support electric vehicle infrastructure, prioritize bus infrastructure, and improve public transit.

“The Chapter 90 proposal advanced by the Legislature directly supports our communities as travel and commuting increases,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “Investing in projects that support reliable, safe, and accessible transportation infrastructure is vital to our communities’ overall well-being, both in the short- and long-term. Thank you to Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, Senator Boncore, and my colleagues in the House for prioritizing these much needed transportation improvements.”

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Massachusetts Legislature Passes Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

BOSTON (07/09/2021) – On Friday, July 9, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Legislature in unanimously passing a $48.07 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22). This budget maintains fiscal responsibility, does not cut services, makes targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguards the health and wellness of the most vulnerable populations, and ensures residents will benefit equitably as the state recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking into consideration strong tax revenue performance in FY21, the final FY22 budget increases revenue assumptions by $4.2 billion over the December consensus revenue projection; the new tax revenue projection is now $34.35 billion. As a result, the FY22 budget does not make a withdrawal but instead transfers funds into the Stabilization Fund, projecting an estimated balance of approximately $5.8 billion for this crucial ‘rainy day’ fund at the end of the fiscal year.

“We could not have predicted the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic but over the past 16 months we have done our best to prepare for the future, and I’m proud the FY22 budget continues that work by making robust short- and long-term investments in mental and behavioral health services, education, local health departments, and so much more,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and member of the FY22 Budget Conference Committee. “I sincerely thank Senate President Spilka, Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and the rest of my colleagues in the Legislature for their work supporting all residents of the Commonwealth, especially those most in need.”

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Legislature Votes to Overturn Governor’s Veto of Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Labor Agreement

BOSTON (07/01/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature voted to override Governor Charlie Baker’s veto of language from the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home bill financing the construction of the new Home requiring a project labor agreement.

In May, Governor Baker signed the bulk of a bill authorizing $400 million in bonds for the design and construction of a new soldiers’ home facility in Holyoke and $200 million in bonds to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services for veterans across the state, but struck a provision requiring the home to be built with a Project Labor Agreement (PLA), under which non-union workers would have to affiliate with construction unions to have a chance to work on the new facility

Overturning the veto ensures that construction of the project utilizes a diverse workforce and provides for well-paying, middle class jobs. The inclusion PLA language mandates a pre-bid, pre-hire labor agreement for the construction of the new facility in Holyoke, ensuring that the workforce is local, diverse, inclusive, well-trained, safe and skilled. Historically, such agreements on large taxpayer funded projects result in the completion of construction on-time and on or under budget.

“Rebuilding the soldiers’ home in Holyoke and increasing access to services for our veterans is necessary and long overdue, especially after tragically losing many residents of the soldiers’ home to a COVID-19 outbreak last year,” said Senator Friedman, lead Senate negotiator of the Soldiers’ Home Conference Committee. “This funding will ensure that the Commonwealth’s veterans are met with the services that they deserve and that address their unique and changing needs and that this construction project creates lucrative jobs for everyone. I want to thank Senate President Spilka for her leadership and my fellow conferees for their collaboration and efforts in advancing this important legislation.”

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Senate Passes Bill to Authorize $300 Million in Funding for Transportation Infrastructure

BOSTON (07/01/2021) – Joining her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voted to pass legislation to invest $300 million in municipal transportation projects and selected statewide transportation infrastructure projects. The bill, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, authorizes $200 million for municipal roads and bridges through the chapter 90 program and $100 million to support statewide projects to address congestion, support electric vehicle infrastructure, and improve public transit.

“The Senate’s Chapter 90 proposal ensures that our transportation systems are safe and accessible as travel and traffic increase as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Friedman. “The robust investments appropriated to the 4th Middlesex, in particular, will strengthen local infrastructure and support our communities’ overall well-being.”

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Senate Passes $261.6 Million FY 2021 Supplemental Budget

BOSTON (06/24/2021) – Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to pass a $261.6 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). This supplemental budget primarily addresses time-sensitive deficiencies, covers costs related to implementation of the 2020 landmark police reform law, and makes investments to support the Commonwealth’s continued recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This spending bill maintains funding for critical services throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “It was particularly important that we made investments in our early education and care system, and that we reformed the representation of the MBTA’s governance and management board to better reflect the population it serves.”

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Senate Passes Animal Welfare Improvements For Egg-Laying Hens

BOSTON (06/24/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined the Massachusetts Senate in passing legislation to create a more secure egg supply chain and raise Massachusetts’ farm animal welfare standards to align with other states. An Act to upgrade hen welfare and establish uniform cage-free standards would upgrade Massachusetts’ egg production law to create predictability and certainty by mirroring the national United Egg Producers cage-free guidelines, which have been adopted by leading retailers, producers, and other states.

In 2016, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly passed what at the time was the strongest law for farm animals in U.S. history, An Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals, known as Question 3. Since then, leading retailers, producers, and other states mandated even stronger standards in the shift to cage-free conditions for hens. The legislation passed in the Senate, An Act to upgrade hen welfare and establish uniform cage-free standards, updates existing state law to meet this new standard. This bill has the support of the animal welfare groups that supported the 2016 ballot question, as well as the support of the leading egg producers in the Commonwealth.

“Updating Massachusetts’s farm animal welfare law was overdue,” said Senator Friedman. “This bill will not only benefit the Commonwealth’s farm animals by improving standards for egg-laying hens but will also benefit consumers through affordable egg prices.”

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Where mental illness and criminal justice meet

In its fourth year, the commission plans to implement a pilot restoration center in Middlesex County — a facility where law enforcement could send people with substance use or mental health disorders for appropriate treatment. “What happens when they’re in the facility, that’s what this pilot is for,” said Senator Cindy Friedman, who’s part of the commission. “It’s not just getting someone to a place. At the other end there has to be someone who knows what to do and can deal with this person who is ill and not criminal. Right there, it keeps them one step away from the criminal justice system,” she said. The restoration center would also take walk-ins.

As state budget negotiations are underway in conference committee, it is critical that the Legislature funds the center at a minimum of $1 million, which is what the commission expects to get in the budget. Also crucial is for lawmakers to keep a trust fund, included in the Senate budget proposal, that would allow for other sources of revenue to fund the restoration center pilot. “That would be money from foundation grants, federal earmarks, and/or the [American Rescue Plan] act,” said Friedman.

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Senate Votes to Extend Popular State of Emergency Measures

BOSTON (06/10/21) – Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed a bill which would extend a slate of measures instituted in Massachusetts during the State of Emergency stemming from COVID-19. If signed into law, this bill would result in the included measures being temporarily extended beyond the State of Emergency’s expiration on June 15, 2021.

“This bill represents responsible and proactive action by the Senate to ensure that important safeguards remain in place after June 15th,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The effects of this public health crisis are not over; we must continue to protect the public’s health and well-being. This bill maintains the rapid availability of our strong health care workforce and provides financial support to those most impacted by the pandemic, like those who struggle to secure adequate childcare as in-person work resumes. I thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and my senate colleagues for their speedy and thoughtful effort in addressing these matters.”

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Legislature Advances Fair Share Act to 2022 Statewide Ballot

BOSTON (06/09/2021) – At a Joint Session of the Massachusetts Legislature, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined members of the House and Senate in a Constitutional Convention to advance an amendment to the state Constitution to provide greater investments in education and transportation funding.

The Amendment, which now goes before the people of the Commonwealth for a vote in 2022, establishes a four percent tax on annual taxable income in excess of $1 million. The revenue generated, estimated by the Department of Revenue to be as much as $2.2 billion annually, would fund repair and maintenance projects for roads, bridges or public transportation as well as funding for public education, including support for early education and childcare and public higher education.

“Once again, I was proud to work with my colleagues to move this important amendment to the next stage of the process,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The revenue raised by the Fair Share Amendment is an effective and fair way to increase investments in public transportation and public education, needed now more than ever as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Friedman Joins Senate in Passing Fiscal Year 2022 Budget

BOSTON (5/28/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate in unanimously passing a $47.7 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22), after adding $63.7 million in targeted investments over the course of three days of robust deliberations. Approved with unanimous bipartisan support, the budget maintains fiscal responsibility and recommends targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguard the health and wellness of the most vulnerable populations and ensure residents will benefit equitably as the state recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Reflecting on the ongoing lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fiscal Year 2022 Senate Budget funds important public health initiatives, begins to address the critical lack of children and adolescent mental health services, continues our substantial investment in public schools, and provides support for our cities and towns, including their local boards of health,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “After a robust debate, we passed a Senate budget that we should be proud of – a budget that invests in our state’s future and benefits residents across the Commonwealth, especially the most vulnerable amongst us. This is in large part due to the leadership of Senate President Spilka and the diligent work of Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues in thoughtfully preparing this comprehensive budget.”

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Friedman Joins Massachusetts Senate in Giving Final Approval to Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Bond Bill

BOSTON (05/20/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday to unanimously give final legislative approval to a bill authorizing $400 million in bonds for the design and construction of a new soldiers’ home facility in Holyoke. The bill, which passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives earlier in the week and now moves to the Governor for consideration, also authorizes the issuance of $200 million in bonds to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services for veterans across the state.

“Rebuilding the soldiers’ home in Holyoke and increasing access to services for our veterans is necessary and long overdue, especially after tragically losing many residents of the soldiers’ home to a COVID-19 outbreak last year,” said Senator Friedman, lead Senate negotiator of the Soldiers’ Home Conference Committee. “This funding will ensure that the Commonwealth’s veterans are met with the services that they deserve and that address their unique and changing needs. I want to thank Senate President Spilka for her leadership and my fellow conferees for their collaboration and efforts in advancing this important legislation.”

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Legislature Returns COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave to Governor’s Desk

BOSTON (05/20/21) – On Thursday May 20, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature gave final legislative approval to a bill to guarantee COVID emergency paid leave to workers, as well as avoid drastic unemployment insurance rate increases paid by employers. The bill was back before the Legislature after having been returned by the Governor with an amendment. Passage of the bill by the Legislature ensures that all Massachusetts employees, including frontline workers in hospitals and classrooms, will receive emergency leave for up to five paid days off for COVID-related concerns, including paid leave from work to attend a vaccine appointment. 

“I am pleased we are able to provide much-needed relief to our businesses and working families, especially through long-overdue emergency paid sick leave benefits for all workers,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This legislation will protect public health and support an equitable economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic.” 

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Letters: Inequities in state’s vaccine rollout are unacceptable

I read Emma Platoff’s article in the Globe Wednesday morning in which I was quoted (“Success of rollout quiets Baker’s critics,” Page A1, May 12). My comment about our state’s being “in a decent place” was in reference to the total number of residents who have been vaccinated. I’m disappointed that readers could be left with the implication that I’m satisfied with the fact that only 37 percent of Black residents and 33 percent of Hispanic residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. I am most certainly not. I do not think that’s “decent.” 

We need to devote even more energy and resources to connect with those communities where there is vaccine hesitancy or barriers to vaccine access. To be clear, the numbers we are seeing in communities of color are nothing to be satisfied about. 

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Friedman Joins Massachusetts Senate in Advancing Holyoke Soldiers’ Home Bond Bill

BOSTON (04/29/2021) – On Thursday, April 29, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to pass a bill authorizing $400 million in bonds for the design and construction of a new facility for the soldiers’ home in Holyoke. The bill also authorizes the issuance of $200 million in general obligation bonds to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services for Massachusetts veterans across the state, with an emphasis on those areas not primarily served by the soldiers’ homes in Chelsea or Holyoke.

“This funding will ensure that veterans in the Home, and across the Commonwealth, are provided the best care for their diverse needs,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. “I want to thank Senate President Spilka and Chair Rodrigues for their leadership and my Senate colleagues for their contributions in making this bill stronger to better serve our veterans for generations to come.”

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Friedman Celebrates Signing of Landmark Climate Legislation into Law

BOSTON (03/26/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature on March 15th to pass nation-leading climate legislation, known as the Next Generation Climate Roadmap bill, which overhauls the state’s climate laws, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, advances the clean energy industry, and prioritizes and protects environmental justice communities.

“I have been incredibly supportive of this legislation each and every time it has come before the Senate,” said Senator Friedman. “We have been patient, but we cannot be patient any longer. Signing this bill into law puts Massachusetts on a path towards a clean, green, and sustainable future for generations to come. I thank Senate President Spilka and Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues for their leadership, and my counterpart from Lexington, Senator Barrett, for the expertise and unrelenting work he put into this legislation.”

The bill returned to the Governor’s desk and was signed into law on March 26, 2021.

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Friedman Celebrates Signing of COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law

BOSTON (03/25/21) – Weeks after Senate and House leadership promised swift action on COVID-19 Emergency Paid Sick Leave, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass a comprehensive bill that would guarantee five paid days off for every employee in the Commonwealth. The bill also seeks to stabilize the state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) trust fund, provides substantial tax relief to businesses and workers, and delays the state tax filing deadline.

“We are still battling the pandemic, and I am so thankful for the Senate’s swift action, under the leadership of Senate President Spilka, to provide much-needed relief to our businesses and working families,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Committee on Ways and Means. “Not only will this bill strengthen our economy and keep our workforce safe, but it provides long-overdue emergency paid sick leave benefits for all workers.”

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Friedman Joins Colleagues in Extending Vote-By-Mail Through June

BOSTON (03/16/2021) – On Thursday, March 11, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass legislation to extend mail-in voting and early voting options for elections held through the end of June 2021. The vote-by-mail provision was previously set to expire at the end of March 2021.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over; we must continue to ensure that Massachusetts voters can safely cast their ballot in our upcoming elections without risking exposure to the virus,” said Senator Friedman. “Utilizing vote-by-mail until June 2021 will protect the democratic process and promote voter participation—a valuable voting tool that should become permanent in Massachusetts. I applaud my Senate colleagues and our municipal election officials for their leadership and work to safeguard our elections.”

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THE COMMITMENTS: ADDICTION TREATMENT BEHIND BARS IN MASSACHUSETTS

In 2018, Gov. Charlie Baker formed a statewide commission to review the Section 35 process. A year later, state lawmakers Sen. Cindy Friedman and Rep. Ruth Balser pushed two similar bills aimed at banning the use of jails and prisons altogether for civil commitments of men. Legislators say those bills would have finished a job the state started in 2016 when it stopped sending women to jail for civil commitments. 

Despite broad support, though, neither bill passed the last legislative session. One died in the Senate Committee on Health Care and Financing, while the other was discharged to the Committee on Senate Rules in August.  

Balser reintroduced her legislation on Jan 26. Friedman may soon do the same in the state senate. 

“Our goal is to not only bring uniformity to the law, but to treat people with [substance use disorder] as patients rather than as criminals,” Friedman wrote in a statement for this article. “We can help accomplish this goal by passing this bill.”

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Senator Friedman Joins Colleagues in Passing Refiled Landmark Climate Change Bill

BOSTON (01/28/2021) – Today, the Massachusetts Legislature passed legislation that overhauls our state’s climate laws, drives down greenhouse gas emissions, creates clean energy jobs, and protects environmental justice communities. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) proudly joined her colleagues in reaffirming the Legislature’s commitment to addressing the climate crisis facing our Commonwealth.

The passage of An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy (S.9), comes after a joint commitment from Senate President Karen E. Spilka and House Speaker Ronald Mariano, as well as last session’s House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Thomas Golden, to refile the legislation following a gubernatorial veto last session.

“Exactly two weeks after the Governor vetoed this bill, the Massachusetts Legislature fulfilled its commitment to bringing this back to the floor and protecting our environment for generations to come,” said Senator Friedman. “I want to thank Senate President Spilka and my Lexington counterpart Senator Barrett for advancing this legislation and putting Massachusetts on a path toward a clean, green and sustainable future.”

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Senator Friedman Co-Sponsors Emergency Legislation to Create a One-Stop Online Vaccine Appointment Portal and Phone Hotline

BOSTON (1/28/2021) – Late this morning, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) co-sponsored ​An Act streamlining COVID-19 vaccination sign-up in Massachusetts (SD.300)​, filed by Senator Eric P. Lesser (D-Longmeadow). The current vaccination appointment system has created mass confusion and anxiety, as individuals eligible for Phase 2 vaccinations are asked to navigate a complex web of internet links and appointment slots. This new portal will simplify and standardize the process statewide for booking appointments and allow a phone-based system for seniors who lack access or familiarity with technology.

“This bill is in direct response to the concern, anxiety, and upset that we have heard across the Commonwealth,” ​stated Senator Friedman, who served last term as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.​ “We believe that in a time when there is such a limited supply of vaccine that the state does not have control over, it is imperative that communication be clear, easy, and accessible for everyone.”

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Sweeping Economic Development Bill Authorizing $627 Million for COVID-19 Recovery Signed into Law

BOSTON (1/15/2021) – On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature in passing $627 million in funding for a sweeping economic recovery and development bill which will provide much-needed support to businesses, investments in infrastructure, and creation of new jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was signed into law on January 14, 2021.

An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth ensures the residents of Massachusetts a COVID-19 relief and recovery package that will provide support to the restaurant and tourism sectors, small businesses, and those who have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, while also creating a Future of Work Commission, establishing protections for student loan borrowers, and ushering in zoning reforms that will encourage housing development in our communities.

“The economic downturn caused by the pandemic is presenting serious challenges for working families and small businesses, exacerbating our housing crisis, and impacting sectors of our economy that our communities depend on,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of Senate Ways and Means. “This law provides immediate relief to the hardest hit sectors of our economy, putting our Commonwealth on a pathway toward a more equitable and sustainable economic future. I’d like to thank the Senate President as well as Conference Committee members Senators Lesser and Rodrigues for their steadfast leadership in moving this bill through the legislative process with a sense of urgency as our state continues to reopen and recover.”

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Friedman Joins Legislature in Passing Landmark Climate Change Bill

BOSTON (01/04/2021) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Legislature to pass breakthrough climate legislation that overhauls the state’s climate laws, drives down greenhouse gas emissions, creates clean energy jobs, and protects environmental justice communities.

“I am pleased that the Massachusetts Legislature took this major step forward and solidified its commitment to protecting our environment,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “I am particularly proud that this legislation includes language I fought for during the Senate amendment process that would achieve emissions reductions equitably and in a manner that protects low- and moderate-income persons and environmental justice populations when the state is developing regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our communities. I want to thank Senate President Spilka and my Lexington counterpart Senator Barrett for taking the lead on this issue and putting Massachusetts on a path toward a clean, green and sustainable future.”

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Early vaccination in prisons, a public health priority, proves politically charged

In Massachusetts, the priority given to incarcerated people stems from the broader focus on congregate settings, said Paul Biddinger, medical director for emergency preparedness at Mass General Brigham and chairman of the state’s vaccine advisory group.

“Congregate settings are congregate settings, and they are high density and at risk whether they’re long-term nursing facilities or prisons,” said another committee member, Massachusetts state Sen. Cindy Friedman (D). That inmates are in such dire need of inoculation, she said, shows the failures of criminal justice in America, revealing the “extent of the breakdown and the gaps and the poor access to behavioral health care.”

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Telemedicine Here To Stay In Massachusetts, Proponents Say

In a year with few victories to celebrate, advocates for expanded health care in Massachusetts are pointing to at least one win: More access to remote health care, or “telehealth.”

Since early in the pandemic, health insurers have been required to cover telehealth visits as they would in-person care under emergency orders from Gov. Charlie Baker. On Wednesday, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a health care bill that makes that change permanent.

Massachusetts Sen. Cindy Friedman, a sponsor of the new measures, says the natural, if accidental, experiment created by the pandemic has proven the utility of telehealth for certain services, especially behavioral and mental health.

“Behavioral health just alone, no-shows, which used to be over 60%, for a whole host of reasons, all of a sudden that no-show rate (dropped) to something like 5%. Because people all of a sudden had access in a way that they could control,” the Middlesex Democrat said.

Friedman, who was pushing for the changes before the coronavirus pandemic hit, said the need for expanded telehealth is now irrefutable.

“There’s a time and a place,” Friedman said. “You can work on something for a very long time and not get traction, and then there’s an outside force that comes long that really crystalizes the need and the urgency of doing something.”

“We hit this pandemic, and it was clear where we had gaps in our health care system that we needed to address, immediately and for the long term,” she added.

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Fact Sheet: S.2984 – An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first

The House and Senate have collaborated to produce a comprehensive healthcare bill that will benefit patients and our health care system as the Commonwealth continues to face the most serious public health crisis in modern history. This Act removes financial and insurance barriers to telehealth services, expands our healthcare workforce by eliminating certain practice restrictions for qualified nurses and other health professionals, provides financial assistance to community hospitals, improves coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment, enhances patient notification requirements to help avoid surprise medical bills, and makes several other notable reforms.

Click here to read the full fact sheet.

Friedman Joins Colleagues in Passing Comprehensive Health Care Legislation Amid Pandemic

BOSTON (12/23/2020) – On Wednesday, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), joined her colleagues in the Legislature in voting to pass An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first. This landmark legislation, which includes a number of notable health care reforms, expands patient access to care by lifting barriers to receiving telehealth services, broadens the scope of practice for certain health care professionals, requires advance notice of a provider’s network status in order to avoid surprise medical bills and improves coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment amid the most serious public health crisis in modern history.

“This conference committee report embraces the best of both the Senate and House bills to create comprehensive and necessary healthcare reforms,” said Senator Friedman, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “While there is still more to do to improve patient outcomes and access to care, this bill takes a meaningful step forward by ensuring that the Commonwealth’s healthcare system can continue to meet the needs of patients during this unprecedented time, and long after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended. I am grateful to the House for their collaboration and to Senate President Spilka and Chair Rodrigues for their leadership and for giving me the opportunity and responsibility to help the Senate negotiate a resolution to this significant bill.”

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Massachusetts lawmakers reach deal on health care bill ensuring coverage for telehealth visits, COVID-19 treatment

After nearly five months of closed-door negotiations, Massachusetts legislators have reached a deal on a health care package that requires insurance providers to cover telehealth appointments and a wider range of COVID-19 tests and treatment.

The lead negotiators, Sen. Cindy Friedman and Rep. Ron Mariano, confirmed in a statement Tuesday night they had made progress on the health care bill, two weeks before the end of the legislative session. The bill tackles a series of long-standing issues about telehealth coverage and scope of practice for nurse practitioners and optometrists, while expanding access to affordable COVID-19 treatment and testing, lawmakers say.

“I think we’ve shown that we’ve taken lessons learned and turned them into making our health care system better for everybody,” Friedman, an Arlington Democrat, said in an interview Tuesday night.

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Friedman Joins Colleagues to Pass Balanced Fiscal Year 2021 Budget

BOSTON (12/04/2020) – Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), along with her colleagues in the Senate and House, passed the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) budget, which invests in programs and services across the Commonwealth. Funded at $46.2 billion, the budget aims to address the sweeping effects of the global pandemic by making targeted investments in housing, food security, and substance use addiction services, as well as domestic violence, sexual assault treatment and prevention programs. The budget also invests in programs that provide COVID-related supports for students and increases funding for developmental services, early education and childcare, and public health.

“The current surge in positive COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts emphasizes that we must continue to do all we can to support our most vulnerable residents during these challenging times—and this budget helps to accomplish that by investing in much-needed behavioral health services, housing protections, reproductive health access, education and food assistance” said Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and member of the FY21 Budget Conference Committee. “I am extremely proud that we were able to keep crucial investments in place—the $46 billion will go a long way towards ensuring an equitable economic recovery for the Commonwealth. I am incredibly thankful to Senate President Spilka, Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and the rest of my colleagues in the legislature for their tireless work on behalf of the Commonwealth.”

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Friedman Joins Colleagues in Passing Comprehensive Police Reform Legislation

BOSTON (12/1/2020) – Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), along with her colleagues in the Senate and House, voted to pass An Act relative to justice, equity and accountability in law enforcement in the Commonwealth. The legislation represents the most comprehensive and intentional legislative response to incidents involving police practices in Massachusetts communities. It creates an independent, civilian-led commission to standardize the certification, training, and decertification of police officers, bans the use of chokeholds, limits the use of deadly force, creates a duty to intervene for police officers when witnessing another officer using force beyond what is necessary or reasonable under the circumstances, and takes steps to break the school-to-prison pipeline. It also creates a first-in-the-nation statewide moratorium on biometric surveillance systems, which include facial recognition technology.

“This legislation is a thoughtful and meaningful step in the right direction,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of Senate Ways and Means. “We have a lot of work to do in Massachusetts and across the country to address systemic racism within our institutions and reforming how we police is part of that necessary work—but by no means should it represent the end of this important conversation. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to strengthen racial justice and equity across the Commonwealth.”

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‘Time is of the essence here’: High-risk groups await state vaccine plan

With the first COVID-19 vaccines on track to arrive in Massachusetts in less than two weeks, thegroups most vulnerable to the deadly virus — from front-line health workers to residents of hard-hit communities — are awaiting thestate’s plan for allocating the initial doses in what’s shaping up as the largest vaccination program in history.

The distribution plan, which eventually could involve the vast majority of the nearly 7 million state residents, came into sharper focus after a meeting Tuesday of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel that’s preparing a national vaccine distribution framework. That was to be followed by a Tuesday evening meeting of Baker’s vaccine advisory group, which will recommend who in the state will get the vaccines first. The governor’s plan is expected to follow that recommendation.

While the precise “phasing” has yet to be determined, “we’re going to work hard to stay in sync with the CDC,” said state Senator Cindy Friedman of Arlington, a member of the state advisory group.

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Senator Friedman Joins Senate Colleagues to Pass FY 2021 Budget

(BOSTON – 11/20/2020) This week, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in unanimously passing a $46 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21), after adding $36.1 million in targeted investments over the course of two days of deliberations. Passed with bipartisan support, the budget aims to move the Commonwealth towards an equitable recovery by making critical investments in sectors impacted by COVID-19 including early education and childcare, food security, housing supports, and public health.

“I am proud to have voted in favor of this budget—the $46 billion in funding will help our residents, especially those who are most vulnerable, as the Commonwealth continues to face new and unprecedented challenges that have emerged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The Senate’s investments in behavioral health services, housing protections, reproductive health access, education, and food insecurity in particular are crucial steps toward ensuring a more equitable economic recovery and a more equitable Commonwealth for all.”

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I Support Amendment #180 (the “ROE Act”) in the FY21 Senate Budget—Here’s why.

I firmly believe that everyone should be in control of their own bodies – and this includes women and their healthcare decisions. I have been a strong supporter of S.1209, the “ROE Act,” and have voiced my support in the past. I am proud to have voted YES in support of Amendment #180 in the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY) Senate Budget, which, similarly to the ROE Act, improves access to abortions in Massachusetts.

Please take a moment to read my statement on why I support Amendment #180 and if you have not done so already, read the full text of the Amendment on the Massachusetts Legislature website. In addition, feel free to share my statement with your friends and neighbors in our community.

Study Details Lives And Money Saved By Supervised Drug Consumption

Adding supervised consumption of drugs to a needle exchange program in Boston would save three to four lives a year within the area around the site and a little more than $4 million. The findings were from Institute Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), a national group that compares the benefits and cost-effectiveness of medical treatments.

2019 report from a state commission recommended that Massachusetts test the idea with a supervision consumption pilot. But bills that would make that happen have died in the Legislature. State Sen. Cindy Friedman, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, said the ICER report findings will renew the debate.

“It just will double our efforts next year, and this is enormously helpful in making safe injection facilities a possibility in the commonwealth,” Friedman said.

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Senate Ways and Means Releases FY 2021 Budget

BOSTON (11/12/2020) – Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means announced a $45.98 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). The Committee’s budget is a responsible and balanced plan that ensures fiscal stability and recommends targeted investments to protect access to core essential services, address urgent needs, and support efforts to build an equitable recovery for the Commonwealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am proud of this budget – it is a significant step toward addressing the real and immediate needs of the Commonwealth as our state continues to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The spending priorities reflect our strong commitment to protecting the fundamental needs of our residents, such as childcare, housing, food security and healthcare.” 

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Legislature Passes Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits to 17,000 Low-Income Recipients

BOSTON (11/2/2020) – The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed legislation to enhance unemployment benefits for 17,000 people in Massachusetts by as much as $1800 each. The legislation was signed into law by the Governor shortly after. 

“The Senate is committed to helping the most vulnerable residents in our Commonwealth as we continue to confront the ongoing pandemic, and this bill reflects that commitment,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “During this difficult financial time, we need to do everything we can to support those in need so they can support themselves and their families.”

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Senate Passes Bill to Require Insurance Coverage for Children with PANS/PANDAS

BOSTON (10/30/2020) – On October 29, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation that would mandate insurance coverage for children with pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndromes (PANS) and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). The bill, An Act relative to insurance coverage for PANDAS/PANS, would ensure that children with PANS or PANDAS receive optimal care by helping patients and their families access specialized diagnostic tests and effective treatments.

“This legislation is a common sense step in the right direction toward ensuring that families that have children with this challenging condition receive equitable access to the treatment they need and deserve,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill also builds on the Senate’s ongoing commitment to putting patients first by continuing to place treatment decisions in the hands of medical professionals, not insurance companies. I commend Senate President Spilka for continuing to lead the way on expanding access to health care for all as well as my fellow Senate colleagues who played an integral role in passing this bill.” 

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Senate Passes Legislation Ensuring Safe Patient Access to Emergency Care

(BOSTON – 10/23/2020) On October 22, the Massachusetts State Senate passed An Act to ensure safe patient access to emergency care, also known as “Laura’s Law,” in memory of Somerville resident Laura Beth Levis, who died in 2016 from an asthma attack just steps from an emergency-room door.

“No one should ever lose their life outside an emergency room due to poor signage and dim lighting,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “What happened to Laura Levis was tragic, heart-breaking and, frankly, could have been prevented. With the passage of “Laura’s Law” in the Senate, we hope to protect patients and ensure that a similar tragedy never happens again.” 

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Massachusetts Voting Information 2020

This election cycle, Massachusetts registered voters will be able to vote by mail, vote early beginning on October 17 at an early voting location, or vote on Election Day on November 3 at your polling place. My team and I have created a helpful voter guide to ensure that you have the information you need to make your voice heard in this election cycle.

Click here to access my voter guide

Friedman Asked to Join State’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group

BOSTON (10/9/2020) – On October 7, 2020, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) was invited to join the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group, created to advance the Baker Administration’s efforts to prepare for the distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.

“I’m honored to have been asked to join the advisory group, and am eager to collaborate with fellow members to support the planning process already underway,” said Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “As we prepare for the arrival of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, we must ensure that we can distribute and administer it safely and equitably across the Commonwealth – and I look forward to being part of that conversation.”

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COVID-19 vaccine advisory group member: ‘We need to be ready’

On Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker’s office announced the formation of a 17-member COVID-19 vaccine advisory group to help advise the state moving forward.

The group isn’t just comprised of medical professionals, infectious disease experts and community leaders. There are also two legislators on the committee who are looking into any state laws or regulations that could potentially stand in the way of an effective rollout in Massachusetts.

“I will be focused on anything that may be a barrier statutorily or through regulations that may prevent an efficient and effective rollout,” said Massachusetts State Sen. Cindy Friedman, who’s one of the 17 members. “If there’s any work we have to do that the legislature can support, we’re here to do that.”

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Friedman Honored with Spirit of Compassion Award for Mental Health Advocacy

BOSTON (9/24/2020) – The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) recently honored Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) with their Spirit of Compassion Award during its 107th Annual – and first ever virtual – Friend and Leader Awards Event. This annual event salutes individuals whose work contributes to progress in awareness, health promotion, prevention and effective treatment for children and adults affected by mental health challenges throughout Massachusetts. 

“As a parent of someone with a severe mental illness, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate the mental health care system in Massachusetts,” said Friedman. “I’m honored to be recognized for my commitment to this issue, and I am grateful to MAMH’s continued collaboration and tireless advocacy on behalf of some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”

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Telehealth, COVID-19 Response Command Center key factors in combatting outbreak in Massachusetts, officials say

As the coronavirus pandemic ramped up across the United States early in 2020, Massachusetts officials began to implement a variety of measures aimed at staving off transmission of the viral respiratory infection and protecting the public.

Having the command center was just critical, just to have not only a central place, but a single person,” Friedman said. “I don’t wish that job on anyone, but that was so critical, because there was a place where we could at least centralize information and feel like we were getting information back forth.”

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Senate Passes Bill to Increase Higher Education Opportunities for People with Disabilities

BOSTON (08/17/20) – The Massachusetts Senate recently passed legislation that removes existing barriers for students with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities so they can attend public institutions of higher education. The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, honors the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law 30 years ago this week by President George H.W. Bush. 

“The passage of this bill in honor of the 30thanniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is an important step in opening more doors for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “I applaud my Senate colleagues and the many schools districts and higher education institutions who partnered on this important bill, which seeks to create a more inclusive Commonwealth for all and ensures that all students – regardless of ability – have equal access to quality higher education.”

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Senate Advances Maternal Health Package

BOSTON (08/17/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed three bipartisan bills to increase birth options and safety for all pregnant and perinatal people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One bill establishes a commission to study barriers to substance use treatment for women in the perinatal period, another establishes a commission to address racial inequities in maternal healthcare in Massachusetts, and a third increases options for safe, professional birthing care in the Commonwealth by licensing midwifery. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted glaring inequities in our health care system, particularly in maternal health,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This package of bills seeks to address these inequities among vulnerable and marginalized populations to ensure that women have access to the care they need to live healthy lives. This legislation builds on the Senate’s ongoing commitment to breakinng down barriers to care and creating a health care system that works better for everyone.”

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Senate Passes Genocide Education Bill

BOSTON (8/10/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate recently passed the Genocide Education Act to educate middle and high school students on the history of genocide and to promote the teaching of human rights issues.

“Hate incidents and hate crimes have increased dramatically in recent years, which is why it’s imperative that we use every tool at our disposal to dismantle hate in our Commonwealth,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “Education and learning about the history of genocide – and the painful consequences of ignorance, bigotry and intolerance – is one of those tools. I believe the passage of this bill is an important step toward equipping the next generation with the knowledge and the resources they need to recognize hate and to dispel hate in our communities.”

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Breakfast After the Bell Legislation Becomes Law

BOSTON (8/10/2020) – The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed legislation to fight childhood hunger and boost participation rates in school breakfast programs in schools with high percentages of students from low-income families in the Commonwealth. The bill, An Act regarding breakfast after the bell, would require all public K‑12 schools with 60 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program to offer breakfast after the instructional day begins. The bill was signed into law shortly after. 

“Students cannot focus and excel in the classroom if they are hungry,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “When children have access to nutritious meals, they are happier, healthier, and perform better at school. This bill continues the fight against food insecurity by ensuring that more students don’t have to struggle with hunger while at school. Thank you to my legislative colleagues for continually putting the health and well-being of our kids above all else.”  

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Senate Passes Bill to Increase Reporting Requirements for Department of Children and Families

BOSTON (8/7/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate recently passed a bill to introduce new oversight and reporting requirements for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). The bill, An Act relative to accountability for vulnerable children and families,also moves the child fatality review board to the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), establishes a ‘Foster Parent Bill of Rights,’ and increases access to mental health care for children in the Commonwealth.

“This bill is an important step in maintaining the health and well-being of vulnerable children in our Commonwealth, particularly during this time of increased anxiety and need,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “I’m pleased that this bill reduces barriers to mental health care for children and increases access to treatment, making it easier for parents to get their child the critical care they need and deserve. I’m grateful for Senate President Spilka and all of my Senate colleagues for recognizing the importance of improving mental health care in our state and making it a priority this session.”

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Senate Passes Bill to Limit the Use of Step Therapy

BOSTON (7/30/20) – Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation to limit the use of step therapy, or ‘fail-first’ protocols that too often direct patients to cheaper medications rather than those more suitable to treat their condition. The bill, An Act relative to step therapy and patient safety, gives health care providers more leverage in determining the most effective treatment options for patients, saving patients expensive and painful regimens on medications they know to be ineffective or harmful.

“This bill takes an important step toward placing treatment decisions back in the hands of the health care provider and patient by limiting opportunities for insurance companies to force a patient to fail on certain medications before they can access the one most suitable for their needs,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “While we must continue to address the high cost of drugs, we cannot do it at the expense of patients, and cost can never be the primary determinant of whether a patient has to suffer needlessly before they can access the medication that is most effective for treating their condition.”

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Senate Passes ENDURE Act to Provide Relief to Small Businesses, Support for Workers, and Investments in Infrastructure

(BOSTON‑07/30/2020) – The Massachusetts State Senate passed a sweeping economic recovery and development bill on Wednesday that provides much-needed support to businesses, invests in infrastructure, and creates new jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a devastating toll on our economy, presenting serious challenges for restaurants and small businesses, exacerbating housing issues, and impacting sectors of our economy that our communities depend on to thrive,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “The ENDURE Act will help us overcome the significant economic downturn caused by the pandemic, putting our Commonwealth on a pathway toward a more equitable and sustainable economic future. I’d like to thank the Senate President as well as Senators Rodrigues and Lesser for their steadfast leadership in moving this bill through the legislative process with a sense of urgency as our state reopens and recovers.”  

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Senate Passes Bill to Support Brewers, Contribute to Local Economy

BOSTON (7/24/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that resolves a decade-long distribution dispute between brewers and wholesalers in the Commonwealth.

“The craft brewing industry has become a welcome addition to our state’s economy over the last several years,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “Solving this dispute is a big win for breweries in our local communities and will allow them to continue to thrive and contribute to the economic stability of our cities and towns.”

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Friedman Secures $2.5 Million For Burlington Transportation

Senator Cindy F. Friedman(D-Arlington) recently joined her colleagues in voting on legislation to jumpstart investment in transportation infrastructure and make the Commonwealth’s transportation system more reliable and accessible to residents. The bill includes $2.5 million Friedman fought for to support roadway and sidewalk reconstruction and traffic safety improvements in the Town of Burlington.

“This bond bill allows our cities and towns to invest in local transportation projects that will enhance our infrastructure while creating much-needed jobs during this time of financial hardship,” said Senator Friedman. “I’m pleased that I was able to secure vital investments for our community, paving the way for a more modernized transportation infrastructure that works for everyone.”

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Friedman Votes for Reform, Shift + Build Act, Advocates for Children and Individuals with Behavioral Health Needs

BOSTON (7/15/2020) —The Massachusetts State Senate passed An Act to Reform Police Standards and Shift Resources to Build a More Equitable, Fair and Just Commonwealth that Values Black Lives and Communities of Color(S.2800). Known as the Reform, Shift + Build Act, the comprehensive bill is designed to increase police accountability, shift the role of law enforcement away from surveillance and punishment, and begin to dismantle systemic racism. 

“The Reform, Shift + Build Act is a step in the right direction toward equity, justice and fairness for all,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “The police, to a large degree, represent society’s values. If we want lasting change and an end to systemic racism, part of our work must be to look at how we police and what our expectations of the police are. We need to reform practices that disproportionately affect communities of color and reinforce stereotypes that we as a society have allowed to stand for centuries. The Reform, Shift + Build Act is a part of that work. ”

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Friedman Secures Critical Investments in Senate Bond Bill to Modernize CORI System

BOSTON (7/9/2020) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently joined her colleagues in passing a $1.7 billion General Government Bond Bill focused on capital improvements to improve government infrastructure, empower communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system, support early education and care providers with safe reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expand equitable access to remote learning opportunities for vulnerable populations across the Commonwealth.

“Our antiquated CORI system is just one example of how our system continues to disproportionally impact people of color,” said Senator Friedman. “Now more than ever, we should be investing in the things that strengthen our communities, support our most vulnerable residents and help people restart their lives rather than penalize them for life. I’m pleased that these funds were authorized in this bill, and am grateful for my Senate colleagues for moving this important piece of legislation forward.”

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Friedman Votes to Safeguard Fall 2020 Elections

BOSTON (7/7/2020) – Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) recently joined her legislative colleagues in passing a bill that expands voter access and ensures safe voting options for all remaining 2020 elections, including the September 1, 2020 state primary and the November 3, 2020 general election. The bill, An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19, was signed into law by the Governor on July 6, 2020.

“As we continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that Massachusetts voters can safely cast their ballot in our upcoming elections without risking exposure to the virus,” said Senator Friedman. “This historic bill expands voting options to do just that, strengthening our democracy and promoting voter participation this fall. I’d like to thank my colleagues in the Senate and House for their hard work on this important bill.”

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Friedman Secures Funds to Fight Food Insecurity and Expand Mental Health Services in FY 2020 Supplemental Budget

BOSTON (7/7/20) – On July 2, 2020, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in passing a $1.1B supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2020 to support extraordinary costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic that require immediate attention. The spending authorized in this supplemental budget will maximize federal financial support while providing critical resources for our most vulnerable populations.

“This supplemental budget is a reflection of the Senate’s ongoing commitment to supporting residents throughout the Commonwealth as we continue to address the COVID-19 public health crisis,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I’m especially pleased that this budget includes investments I fought for to address food insecurity and mental health needs in my district, which have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic.”

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Sen. Cindy Friedman responds to Woburn Pride flag incident

Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, who represents the city of Woburn, released the following statement on June 30 after someone tore down the Pride flag in Woburn Common:

“I’m deeply disappointed and saddened to hear that someone tore down the Pride flag in Woburn — this is a hateful act that is simply not representative of who we are as a community. Despite this, members of our community stepped up and raised a new Pride flag today, and I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts.

The Pride flag is for everyone — it symbolizes safety, unity, inclusiveness and love for all, and sends the message that “all are welcome here” no matter your sexual identity, gender, race, ethnicity, religion or background. All who live in and visit our district should always feel safe and welcome to be who they are and love who they want to love.”

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Bill to allow Woburn fire headquarters construction

Rep. Richard Haggerty, D-Woburn, Rep. Michelle Ciccolo, D-Lexington, and Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, announced the passage of legislation allowing for the swapping of land parcels in Woburn to allow the city to begin construction of its new Fire Department Headquarters at Forest Park.

“This bill was the first step to ensure Woburn has access to the land it needs to build a new fire station,” said Friedman. “I’m excited that the Woburn Fire Department can now move forward with this project, which will benefit our firefighters, our residents and the larger Woburn community. I’m glad to have worked with my colleagues in the House to get this done.”

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Senate Passes Patients First Act

BOSTON (6/25/2020) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed the Patients First Act, the third piece of signature healthcare legislation advanced by the body to increase access to health care, protect patients, and enhance quality care. The legislation builds on vital lessons learned during the COVID-19 public health crisis, as unprecedented demands on the healthcare system have prompted innovation and the expedited adoption of policy changes.  

“The Patients First Act ensures that our healthcare system can continue to deliver quality, affordable and accessible care long after the COVID-19 state of emergency has ended,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “By increasing access to telehealth services, eliminating the unfair practice of surprise billing, and expanding our healthcare workforce, we are taking important steps to protect patients and increase access to quality care for all. Thank you to Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and all of my Senate colleagues for their shared commitment to improving our healthcare system in Massachusetts so that it truly puts patients first.” 

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Opinion: Telehealth is working, let’s keep it that way

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our lives, our healthcare system, and our economy, but one silver lining has been the immediate and dramatic expansion of telehealth services. We’d be foolish not to seize this opportunity to ensure that telehealth access remains a part of routine medical care in the Commonwealth long after the pandemic is over.

Teleheatlh refers to health care services that are provided remotely, typically through videoconference or phone call. It offers a convenient way for patients to access care and consult with a doctor through technology, such as a laptop or phone, that a patient may already own. Telehealth allows patients to essentially take part in a virtual doctor’s appointment—whether it’s using a tablet to snap a photo of your skin to send to your dermatologist for a quick evaluation or having a 30-minute counseling session with your therapist over the phone.

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Senate Unveils Patients First Act

BOSTON (6/18/2020) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate unveiled the Patients First Act, comprehensive healthcare legislation that aims to increase access to health care, protect patients, and enhance quality care. The legislation builds on vital lessons learned during the COVID-19 public health crisis, as unprecedented demands on the healthcare system have prompted innovation and the expedited adoption of policy changes.

“The Senate’s longstanding commitment to making healthcare more affordable and accessible to patients across the Commonwealth is reflected in this legislation,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “The components of this bill are basic principles that will allow our healthcare system to continue meeting the needs of patients during this unprecedented time and long after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended, improving patient outcomes and ensuring equitable access to care. I’m grateful to the Senate President and Chair Rodrigues for their collaboration on this effort and continued dedication to improving our healthcare system so that it works for everyone.”

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Senate bill extends telehealth, scope of practice

Senate leaders on Thursday released a health care bill, called the Patients First Act, which addresses telehealth, out-of-network billing, and scope of practice changes. While the bill is only partially related to COVID-19, Sen. Cindy Friedman, an Arlington Democrat who co-chairs the Committee on Health Care Financing, said the pandemic makes it urgent that lawmakers pass reforms to ensure the health care system is financially sustainable and people continue to have access to care.

“The impact on the health care system has been so profound we’ve got to make sure we have policies in place that allow providers to continue to do the work as things ramp up and as people come back into the system,” Friedman said.  

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Senate Unanimously Passes Comprehensive Elections Bill to Address Voting Safety Concerns during COVID-19

BOSTON (6/17/2020) – On June 16, 2020, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation to expand voter access and address safety for all remaining 2020 elections, including the September 1, 2020 state primary and November 3, 2020 general election, in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As we continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts, we must do everything we can to ensure that our voters can cast their ballot without risking exposure to the virus,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman, a member of the Senate COVID-19 Working Group. “The ability to vote is the bedrock of any democracy, and this historic bill ensures that our voters can make their voices heard this fall. No one should have to choose between exercising their right to vote and protecting their own health, and this bill allows our voters to do both.”  

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Legislature Passes Bill to Preserve Municipal Governance During COVID-19

BOSTON (6/10/20) — The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed a bill to provide governance and fiscal flexibility for many municipalities grappling with public health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was later signed into law by the Governor. 

“This bill builds on the Legislature’s ongoing commitment to supporting our cities and towns as we continue to confront the COVID-19 public health crisis together,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), a member of the COVID-19 Senate Working Group. “I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate and House for working together to pass a bill that will give municipal leaders throughout our district the tools and flexibility they need to continue serving our residents.” 

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Black Lives Matter

Rightfully so, many of you have reached out to me over the last few weeks calling for reform in the way that we police and to confront the systemic racism that is deeply embedded in our institutions – and I couldn’t agree more. This moment requires us to stand together, make our voices heard, and demand action so that we can make meaningful change together.

Read more about some of my thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement in Massachusetts and how we should move forward.

Legislature Passes Bill to Collect Vital Public Health Data, Establish a COVID-19 Diversity Task Force

(BOSTON – 6/5/2020) The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed bipartisan legislation to promote equity and transparency as the Commonwealth continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was later signed into law by the Governor.

“As we continue to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that the public health data we collect will allow us to deliver appropriate care to underserved residents that require attention,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), a member of the COVID-19 Senate Working Group. “This bipartisan bill enhances accountability and transparency around data collection, and gives us the tools we need to ensure that vulnerable residents have equal access to the vital healthcare they need and deserve. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate and our partners in the House for moving this important bill forward.”  

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Coronavirus Updates

I know that many of you are growing increasingly concerned about the impact the coronavirus is having on our district and the Commonwealth. I share your concerns and I am working hard to address them.

To keep you as informed as possible, I’ve created a “Coronavirus Updates” page on my website that I will keep updated with the latest information. Please feel free to bookmark it and check it often for the latest updates and guidance.

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Legislature Passes Bill to Provide Relief and Improve Access to Unemployment Benefits

(BOSTON – 05/26/2020) The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed a bill that will provide additional Unemployment Insurance (UI) relief to low-income families, non-profit institutions and employers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation was signed into law by the Governor on May 27, 2020.

“This bi-partisan legislation builds on our continued dedication to helping our workers and employers as they face financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington).“This bill will provide much-needed economic relief to residents across the Commonwealth who have lost their jobs in the wake of the pandemic.”

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Reopening Massachusetts Email Update (5/18/20)

Today, the Governor announced Reopening Massachusetts, the Commonwealth’s gradual and phased approach for reopening the Massachusetts economy amid the COVID-19 public health crisis. The Administration released the Reopening Advisory Board’s report, which details a four-phased strategy to responsibly reopen businesses and activities, while continuing to fight COVID-19. Starting today – based on current public health data and trends – Massachusetts will begin Phase 1 of a cautious reopening, and workplaces that are permitted to open are required to follow new safety protocols and guidance.

Learn more in my latest email update

Senate Passes Legislation Authorizing Short-Term Borrowing During Historic Remote Session

(BOSTON – 05/18/2020) The Massachusetts State Senate convened on Thursday, May 14 for the first-ever remote session in the history of the body to pass legislation to allow short-term borrowing to meet the Commonwealth’s financial obligations. The bill was later signed into law by the Governor on May 15, 2020. 

“The passage of this bi-partisan legislation will allow us to continue to meet the fiscal challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I’d like to thank Senate President Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, Senate Minority Leader Tarr, and all of my Senate colleagues for making this happen and for collaborating on today’s first-ever remote legislative session.”

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Senate Passes Bill to Collect Vital Public Health Data, Establish COVID-19 Diversity Task Force

On Monday, May 11, 2020, the Massachusetts State Senate passed bipartisan legislation to promote equity and transparency as the Commonwealth continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As we continue to address the COVID-19 crisis, we must be as transparent, accountable and thoughtful as possible when it comes to data collection,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman, a member of the COVID-19 Senate Working Group. “This bipartisan bill will give us the tools we need to ensure that we can address inequities in our delivery of healthcare so that members of vulnerable and underserved populations across the Commonwealth have equal access to that care.” 

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OPINION: Friedman writes, actions taken by the state providing positive results

The COVID-19 public health crisis has placed an unprecedented strain on Massachusetts residents, businesses, our healthcare system and our economy. We’ve made extraordinary sacrifices as the state took swift science-driven measures to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. 

Massachusetts acted fast and early, implementing a stay-at-home advisory, social distancing guidelines and closure of non-essential businesses. Simultaneously, the state dramatically expanded testing and hospital capacity, allowing us to test 10,000 plus residents per day and increasing intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity by 80%.

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COVID-19 Email Update (5/7/20)

It finally feels like spring has sprung! I hope you have been able to get outside and enjoy the weather – at a 6-foot distance from others, of course. As we continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to provide you with an update. Click on the link below to view my latest email update, which includes information on the new face covering Executive Order, the new COVID-19 Constituent Resource Guide, recent legislative action to address the virus, Mental Health Awareness Month, and more!

Click here to read my latest email update

Senate Passes Bill to Enhance Access to Safety Net Resources for Most Vulnerable Residents

(BOSTON – 04/29/2020) Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported legislation recently passed by the Senate that makes it easier for residents who have lost incomes due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis to access critical safety net programs. 

“During this challenging time, we need to do everything we can to support the most vulnerable residents in our district and throughout the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, a member of the COVID-19 Senate Working Group. “I’m grateful for the Senate President and fellow members of the Senate Working Group for advancing this legislation, which will ensure that at-risk populations are not denied the resources they need and deserve.” 

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Legislature Passes Moratorium on Non-Essential Evictions and Foreclosures Amid COVID-19

(BOSTON – 04/21/2020) Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) supported a bill passed by the Senate and House that will provide a critical safety net for renters, homeowners, and small businesses grappling with the economic fallout of the coronavirus public health emergency. 

“During this unprecedented time, it is incredibly important to ensure that our residents are able to remain safely in their homes,” said Senator Friedman. “I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Senate and House for taking this important step to ensure that our renters, homeowners and small businesses receive the critical protections and relief they need during this public health crisis.”

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Legislature Passes Legal Protections for Health Care Workers, Facilities, And Organizations Responding to COVID-19

BOSTON (4/17/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate and House on Friday passed legislation to shield those providing critical health care services from legal liability for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. 

“This is a major step in ensuring that we have the workforce necessary to address the healthcare needs of our residents during the current pandemic,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill maximizes protections for a wide variety of healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, who are sometimes being asked to work in very unique settings like field hospitals and other locations. I want to thank the Senate President and Chair Rodrigues for recognizing the urgency of this issue and for moving this bill forward quickly.”

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Legislature Passes Bill to Waive MCAS Requirements, Support Vulnerable Residents

BOSTON 4/10/2020 – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported legislation passed by the Senate and House that provides testing and budgetary flexibility to school districts and supports those experiencing homelessness in the Commonwealth. The bill was later signed into law by the Governor on Friday, April 10.

“The Legislature has taken additional steps forward to support students and protect vulnerable populations in our Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman. “I’m particularly pleased that this bill waives MCAS requirements for the remainder of the academic year. Our students’ routines have been disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we simply cannot expect them to participate in these exams during this time of constant change. Thank you to the Senate President and my legislative colleagues for their hard work and collaboration on this legislation.” 

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Senate Passes Bill to Protect Renters, Homeowners and Small Businesses

(BOSTON – 04/09/2020) On April 9, Senator Cindy F. Friedman supported legislation passed by the Senate that would provide a critical safety net for renters, homeowners and small businesses grappling with the immediate economic fallout of the current public health pandemic.

“As we continue to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that our residents are able to stay safely in their homes,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill is another demonstration of the Senate’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable in our state during this unprecedented public health crisis. I’m grateful to the Senate President and all of my Senate colleagues for taking this common sense step to ensure that our renters, homeowners and small businesses receive the critical protections and relief they desperately need and deserve.” 

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Friedman Supports Bill to Improve Access and Efficacy of Unemployment Insurance

(BOSTON – 4/2/20) Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported a bill passed by the Senate that will provide additional Unemployment Insurance (UI) relief to low-income families, non-profit institutions and employers. 

“Workers and small business owners throughout my district and the Commonwealth have faced an unprecedented financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and they need assistance now,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill is the Senate’s latest effort to protect Massachusetts families and provide the economic relief necessary to ensure that both workers and employers can stay afloat during this difficult time.”    

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Friedman Supports Bill to Provide Relief to Municipalities, Others During COVID-19 Crisis

BOSTON – 4/2/20) On April 2, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) supported a bill that was passed by the Senate and House to provide necessary relief to municipalities, taxpayers, restaurants, and state authorities impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and State of Emergency declaration.  

“This bill addresses a variety of issues that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to support our communities, restaurants and taxpayers,” said Senator Friedman. “We must continue to do everything we can to meet the urgent needs of our communities, and this action is another step the Legislature is taking to ensure that. I want to thank my colleagues in the Senate and House for their bipartisan efforts to protect our cities and towns during this difficult time.”

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