Legislature Passes Fiscal Year 2025 Budget

$58B budget agreement provides for significant levels of investment in education, regional equity, and transportation 

(BOSTON–7/19/24) Today, the Legislature enacted a $58 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25), resolving differences between the versions of the budget passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year. The FY25 conference committee report maintains fiscal responsibility while delivering historic levels of investment in every level of education, transportation regional equity, workforce development and health care, reflecting the Legislature’s ongoing commitment to delivering on affordability for residents and economic competitiveness for the Commonwealth. 

“The Commonwealth’s budget for Fiscal Year 2025 agreed to by the Legislature today provides for a high level of quality for the programs that our municipalities and residents rely on,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This is a budget that balances fiscal constraints with targeted, impactful investments that ensure statewide stability and regional equity. As we grapple with rising costs and access challenges within the Massachusetts health care system, I am especially proud that this budget utilizes tools to maximize our health care dollars for the facilities and providers that serve our most vulnerable residents. I am excited by this robust final budget that will benefit all of Massachusetts and bring significant funding for local projects in the 4th Middlesex district.” 

The FY25 budget recommends a total of $58 billion in spending, a $2 billion increase over the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) General Appropriations Act (GAA).… Read more.

Senate Passes Friedman-Led Health Care Reform Boosting Safeguards Against For-Profit Entities

Bill strengthens health care market oversight and imposes guardrails on private equity investments

(BOSTON—7/18/2024) Today the Massachusetts Senate passed urgent reforms to the Commonwealth’s health care system to boost oversight and transparency in the market and improve patient access to prescribed medication and treatment.

Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) took the lead role in developing the Senate’s version of the legislation, which was approved following debate by a vote of 38-2.

The reforms in S.2871 come as Massachusetts continues to manage challenges related to private equity’s mismanagement in health care, which has created uncertainties for patients receiving care and the communities that the healthcare facilities serve. The legislation passed by the Senate would create strong systemic safeguards around private equity in healthcare, a significant step towards preempting future mismanagement.

“The Senate’s comprehensive health care market legislation passed today puts patients and providers back into the focus of the delivery of healthcare, rather than profits,” said Senator Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “To ensure that a crisis similar to that surrounding Steward Health Care does not infiltrate our state’s health care system ever again, this bill modernizes and strengthens the health care oversight and transparency tools we have in the Commonwealth. This bill also provides protections for patients and providers, affords our health care regulatory agencies the needed flexibility and scope to oversee the industry as it evolves, and increases the financial transparency of major market players. I thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and my Senate colleagues for their attention to these issues.… Read more.

Senate Unanimously Passes $2.86 Billion Boost to Life Sciences, Climate Tech, A.I., and Small Businesses 

Economic development bond authorizations set to enhance state as national leader; Friedman health care workforce amendment adopted 

(BOSTON7/11/2024) Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed a comprehensive economic development bill that makes bold investments in life sciences, climate tech, and small businesses, building on Massachusetts’ national leadership and creating an environment where businesses and workers thrive.  

The $2.86 billion in bonds authorized in An Act Relative to strengthening Massachusetts’ economic leadership will stimulate new and proven industries, support workforce development and talent retention, and modernize economic growth strategies. The support in S.2586 extends to small businesses, communities, and cultural development, ensuring that main street businesses across the Commonwealth benefit from the economic boost.  

“Our economic development legislation directs critical investment to the drivers of the Massachusetts economy, both present and future,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill provides increased support for our leading industries of climate technology and life sciences, while also paving the way for continued development of our artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing industries, further elevating Massachusetts on the nationwide and global stage in economic competitiveness. The Senate recognizes the importance of increasing economic opportunity across the Commonwealth and through targeted investments this bill provides for the industries that help define our regions. I am especially grateful to see the inclusion of my amendment that would enter Massachusetts into the Nurse Licensure Compact, as this policy change will be a significant stabilizer for our health care workforce.… Read more.

Massachusetts Senate Votes to Inject $5.4B into Housing, Put Homeownership and Affordable Units in Reach

Senate’s Affordable Homes Act sets course for thousands of new units, sweeping renovations of public and affordable housing, and protections for residents

(BOSTON—06/27/2024) The Massachusetts Senate took action today to address the state’s housing crisis. S.2834, An Act relative to affordable homes—also known as the Affordable Homes Act—authorizes $5.4 billion in borrowing and makes crucial policy changes with the goal of building new housing, accelerating the rehabilitation of existing housing, reducing barriers to development, and promoting affordable housing.

Following robust debate, the Senate passed the legislation unanimously.

“During my tenure in the Senate I have been focused on the health and well-being of our residents — and affordable, safe, and accessible housing is directly linked to that effort,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Housing is interconnected to every other issue that comes before the Legislature, whether it be the stability of our schoolchildren, supporting a sustainable workforce, and ensuring that our state economy thrives. This bill couples dollars with policy reforms to actively respond to the housing crisis we are facing and will impact the Commonwealth for generations to come.”

Senator Friedman was particularly proud that an amendment she filed was adopted, which commissions a study by the Attorney General, in consultation with the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities, into the practice of corporate landlords colluding to fix high rent prices through the use of algorithmic software. A 2022 investigation by ProPublica found that a real estate tech company used both public and private data in an algorithm that generates rental rate recommendations for landlords.… Read more.

Senate Takes Bold Action to Supercharge Clean Energy Adoption Statewide

Legislation meets the climate crisis head-on with streamlined siting, expanded EV infrastructure, and ratepayer protections 

(BOSTON—06/25/2024) Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed comprehensive climate legislation to make systemic changes to the state’s clean energy infrastructure that will help the state achieve its net zero emissions by 2050 goals, expand electric vehicle (EV) use and infrastructure, and protect residents and ratepayers. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voted in favor of the bill, which passed the upper chamber by a vote of 38-2. 

The climate bill will allow Massachusetts to develop infrastructure essential for the fight against climate change, including new solar, wind, and storage facilities. It will also enhance the electric grid to support getting clean energy to residents efficiently and in the needed capacities to power homes, businesses, and vehicles.   

Enhancements to the clean energy grid will be paired with measures to keep costs down for ratepayers across the state. 

“This legislation marks another milestone action for the Senate in addressing the climate crisis,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “When looking towards our net zero emission goals, we must tackle the everyday challenges as part of our efforts, such as grid and infrastructure improvements and clean energy advancements. I am also excited to see the bottle bill deposit increased and expanded, and I am proud of the many advocates in the 4th Middlesex district who have passionately lobbied for this and many other initiatives addressed in this legislation.”  

The comprehensive climate legislation modernizes laws related to cost control for ratepayers; siting and permitting; decarbonization; electric transportation incentives; clean tech innovation; emissions reduction in state operations; and natural gas infrastructure.  … Read more.

Massachusetts Senate Acts to Ban Plastic Bags, Reduce Straw and Plasticware Usage, Boost Recycling and Composting

Measures would reduce plastic waste, a major threat to the environment, climate goals, and public health  

(BOSTON—6/20/2024) Today the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation that builds on the state’s climate and environmental leadership by banning single-use plastic bags, making straws and plasticware available by request only, and making it easier to recycle. The legislation passed by a vote of 38-2, with Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voting in favor of the measure.  

“I am lucky to represent communities that are extremely conscious of our environment and actively taking steps to protect it,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Every municipality in my district has a bylaw regulating or banning the use of single-use plastic bags on the books today, and I believe that this is the time to expand the ban statewide. I strongly support this bill and its efforts to reduce plastic waste in our rivers, our parks, our roads, and all throughout our ecosystem, and I hope to see this bill taken up in the House of Representatives soon.”  

S.2830, An Act to reduce plastic would drastically reduce plastic waste that is too often found in streets and waterways—and too often fills landfills and disposal sites—ultimately harming the environment in Massachusetts communities and contributing to global climate change. Plastics are also made using fossil fuels. 

The legislation will prohibit carry-out plastic bags at retail stores statewide and require stores to charge 10 cents for recycled paper bags, five cents of which will be allocated to environmental protection measures.… Read more.

Bill to Prevent Abuse and Exploitation, Enhance Protections for Survivors Heads to Governor

Legislation addresses image-based sexual harassment, coercive control, and extends the statute of limitations for certain domestic violence offenses

(BOSTON—6/13/2024) – The Massachusetts Legislature today enacted comprehensive legislation that criminalizes the non-consensual sharing of explicit images known as “revenge porn,” creates a diversion program for teens who share explicit images, statutorily defines coercive control as an element of domestic abuse, and extends the statute of limitations to pursue criminal charges for certain domestic violence offenses from six years to 15 years. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported enactment of the legislation in the Massachusetts Senate. 

“This legislation closes critical gaps in our laws that have prevented victims whose explicit images were shared without their consent from receiving adequate protections,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I am glad that this legislation addresses specific diversion options for teenagers to correct their misconduct and I look forward to Governor Healey signing this bill into law so that our state can curb these behaviors of the digital age and provide more recourse for victims.” 

To address the nonconsensual distribution of explicit images by adults, the bill establishes a penalty in the existing criminal harassment statute which includes up to two and a half years of prison time and/or a monetary fine of up to $10,000. The bill increases the upper limit of the fine for criminal harassment from $1,000 to $5,000. If signed into law, the bill would also empower victims to petition the court for a harassment prevention order against a person who has violated the new statute. … Read more.

Legislature Designates August 10-11 Sales Tax Holiday Weekend in Massachusetts 

The Massachusetts Legislature has designated August 10 and August 11 as a sales tax holiday weekend for Massachusetts. On those days, the Massachusetts sales tax of 6.25% will be suspended for most items that retail for less than $2,500. 

The holiday welcomes Massachusetts residents to visit retailers and small businesses around the state. A spike in consumer activity routinely boosts indirect tax revenues. According to the Department of Revenue, during the 2023 sales tax holiday, indirect tax revenues due to increased economic activity were approximately $3.54 million. 

For more information on the 2024 Sales Tax Holiday Weekend, visit https://www.mass.gov/info-details/sales-tax-holiday-frequently-asked-questions 

Friedman Votes to Boost Benefits, Modernize Services, and Promote Inclusivity for Veterans 

Upper chamber builds on and approves historic commitment to people who have served  

(BOSTON—6/13/2024) Today the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation to boost support for hundreds of thousands of individuals across the state who have served in the United States military, including nearly 30,000 women veterans and thousands of LGBTQ+ veterans.  

The comprehensive legislative package, H.4671, An Act Honoring, Empowering and Recognizing Our Servicemembers and Veterans (the HERO Act), would increase benefits for disabled veterans, bolster support for businesses that hire veterans, update the definition of a veteran, expand the scope of the Veterans Equality Review Board, and codify medical and dental benefits. 

“Massachusetts owes a debt of gratitude to the people who have served in our armed forces since the first shots of the American Revolution rang out in the 4th Middlesex district almost 250 years ago,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The HERO Act passed today continues our dedication to serve those who served us by improving supports, providing flexibility, and lowering cost barriers to needed programs and services. I am especially glad to see expanded access for mental health care for veterans, knowing that we have a long way to go in understanding the unique challenges our veterans face. I look forward to approving final legislation and getting this to the governor’s desk before the end of the session.” 

The Senate’s legislation builds on the historic legislative package filed by the Healey-Driscoll Administration by including additional provisions which would:  

  • Require a public school district to provide support services to a military-connected student when a parent or guardian is called to active duty. 
Read more.

Friedman, Massachusetts Senate unanimously approve investments in cybersecurity, online accessibility, and new tech 

The FutureTech Act authorizes $1.24B in bonds, allocates $400M in federal funds 

(BOSTON–6/6/2024) Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to unanimously pass the FutureTech Act, taking action on a $1.24 billion bond authorization to modernize the Commonwealth’s digital infrastructure and create safer and more accessible experiences for residents and employees alike. 

Funding and projects included in S.2806, An Act to provide for the future information technology needs of Massachusetts, would allow state agencies to deliver services more efficiently to residents, enhance cybersecurity on statewide platforms, and broaden access to services used by hundreds of thousands of residents statewide. The bill would also invest in emerging technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) and direct $400 million in anticipated federal funding to bolster health and human services-related projects.  

“Today’s unanimous vote in the Massachusetts Senate signals a bright future for improving our technology systems statewide, providing for bond authorizations that will improve user experience and accessibility for more residents of the Commonwealth” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I am especially excited to see this legislation include several targeted health care related programs and increased support for our partners in municipal governments, which will translate to safer and more efficient municipal operations.” 

The FutureTech Act lays a foundation for technology innovation in the Commonwealth by implementing transformative projects like the Business Enterprise Systems Transformation (BEST) and the Commonwealth Digital Roadmap, both of which would be targeted at streamlining state operations and making essential government services quicker and more efficient.  … Read more.