Senate Ways and Means Releases Fiscal Year 2023 Budget Recommendations

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

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

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

Senate Passes Work and Family Mobility Act

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

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

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

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

Senate to Debate Work and Family Mobility Act Next Thursday

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

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

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

Senate Passes Major Climate Bill

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

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

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

Clean Energy

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

Friedman, Senate Pass CROWN Act

Bill prohibits discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles

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

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

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

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

Friedman, Senate Pass $1.65 Billion Supplemental Budget

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

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

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

Responding to COVID-19

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

Friedman Helps Pass Oversight Reform Bill for Veterans’ Homes

Legislation would restructure chain of command at Holyoke and Chelsea Homes
and improve oversight to prevent future tragedy

(BOSTON – 03/10/2022) On Thursday, March 10, 2022, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to unanimously pass legislation to increase public oversight over the administration of state-operated veterans’ homes in Holyoke and Chelsea. To improve safety and transparency at the veterans’ homes, the bill would restructure the chain of command to more closely match established administrative practices used in hospitals and other large organizations. This legislation follows continued scrutiny of administrative failures at the veterans’ home in Holyoke, which led to the tragic deaths of 77 veterans during the early days of the pandemic and builds on recommendations made by the Special Joint Oversight Committee on the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke COVID-19 Outbreak, which investigated the tragedy. In the wake of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home outbreak, Senator Friedman played a lead role in negotiating a bond bill to finance construction of a new home.

“I am so pleased that this bill passed the Massachusetts Senate, as it ensures added protections to the health and wellbeing of veterans at these state-run facilities,” stated Sen. Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “My work on the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home bond bill provided me with an understanding of just how important these facilities are to Massachusetts veterans and with stronger oversight, we can improve the services the facilities offer while also preventing future tragedies.”… Read more.

Friedman Votes for Bills Supporting Equitable Health Care Access for Women

Legislation would expand access to maternal postpartum care, menstrual products in public place

BOSTON (03/03/2022) – Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts State Senate to pass two bills that would expand equitable health care access for women in Massachusetts. One bill would help to address the crisis in maternal health by ensuring that pregnant and postpartum mothers and birthing people get necessary and potentially life-saving health care by extending MassHealth insurance coverage to 12 months after pregnancy. A second bill would direct the state to provide menstrual products free of cost in certain public places, including schools, correctional facilities, and shelters and other temporary housing.

“I was proud to support these two initiatives which will bring further access and equity to our state’s health care system,” said Senator Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “Menstruation should never be stigmatized in any setting and ensuring maternal health care coverage for 12 months after pregnancy is the right thing to do and could even provide life-saving care for new mothers and their children. I am very grateful to my fellow Senators for taking steps to address these very important issues.”

Friedman Legislation Designating July 8th as Massachusetts Emancipation Day a.k.a. Quock Walker Day Passes Senate

BOSTON (02/17/2022) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation that would designate July 8th as Massachusetts Emancipation Day, also known as Quock Walker Day. The bill, S.2704, was filed by Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) and would direct the Governor to issue a proclamation commemorating Quock Walker and his legacy each year.

Quock Walker, born to enslaved Black parents in Massachusetts, was the driving force behind the 1783 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that slavery was incompatible with the constitution of the Commonwealth. At 28 years old, after being promised his freedom on multiple occasions, Walker self-emancipated. Shortly after, Walker was found working nearby, was beaten and locked in a barn by his former enslaver, Nathaniel Jennison. Walker sued Jennison for assault and battery and was found to be a free man by a jury of the Worcester County Court of Common Pleas. This ruling was appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court where the decision was upheld. This critical decision served as the precedent that ended slavery in the Commonwealth on constitutional grounds and led to Massachusetts becoming one of the first states in the nation to abolish slavery.

“In light of Quock Walker’s significant place in our state’s history, it is important that we celebrate his achievements by officially and annually marking this monumental step toward abolishing slavery,” said Senator Friedman. “Passing this bill is one of the many ways the Massachusetts Senate is celebrating Black History Month this year, as we work to acknowledge the injustices in our history as well as celebrate our state’s part in setting a nationwide precedent for human rights.… Read more.