Friedman, Senate Pass the SAFER Act: Consensus, Commonsense Gun Reform for Massachusetts 

Endorsed by gun violence prevention advocates, district attorneys, and police chiefs, bill is set to protect residents and modernize firearm laws, following extensive debate in the Senate 

BOSTON (2/1/2024)—Today, with bipartisan support, the Massachusetts Senate passed An Act to sensibly address firearm violence through effective reform—the SAFER Act—to increase firearm safety in the state without infringing on the rights of gun owners. Following a thorough debate amongst members on the Senate floor, the bill passed 37 to 3, with Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voting in support of the legislation. 

The omnibus legislationS.2572was introduced following extensive testimony at a November hearing of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, where the public provided over four hours of testimony on more than 50 gun safety bills before the committee. Led by Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem, the bill’s passage follows months of discussions which included stakeholders and advocates with diverse perspectives on the issue. 

The bill’s provisions would help make residents safer—and ultimately save lives—by building on the Commonwealth’s already strong record on gun safety and updating laws to prevent those who wish to do harm from being able to access and use deadly weapons. It would reform and modernize the state’s firearm laws, support the state’s public safety and public health infrastructure in mitigating gun violence, and strengthen accountability and oversight mechanisms for illegal gun activity. 

“The Supreme Court’s repeal of gun safety policies in recent years, in tandem with a drastic rise in gun violence nationwide, makes it impossible for us to ignore this moment – we must take meaningful action on this critical issue,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.… Read more.

Senate Unveils the SAFER ACT: Comprehensive Gun Safety Reform for Massachusetts 

Multifaceted approach to gun reform set to boost public safety and save lives by adapting to developments in firearms technologies, addressing illegal firearm activity,  and supporting at-risk individuals and communities 

BOSTON (1/25/2024)—Today, the Massachusetts Senate introduced Senate bill S.2572, An act to sensibly address firearm violence through effective reform—the SAFER Act—comprehensive gun safety legislation to reform and modernize the state’s firearm laws, support the state’s public safety and public health infrastructure in mitigating gun violence, and strengthen accountability and oversight mechanisms for illegal gun activity. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined Senate colleagues at the State House in support of the legislation as it was unveiled. 

The omnibus legislation would help make residents safer—and ultimately save lives—by building on the Commonwealth’s already strong record on gun safety and updating laws to prevent those who wish to do harm from being able to access and use deadly weapons.  

This proposed legislation focuses on common sense policies that will reduce gun crime and gun injuries in the Commonwealth, without infringing on the legal rights of responsible gun owners. It updates the state’s laws to provide law enforcement agencies with the necessary support to tackle today’s concerns relating to gun violence prevention and keep Massachusetts at the forefront of gun safety. 

“Gun violence is a public health crisis, and it should be treated as such,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This sweeping legislation was crafted with the input of law enforcement officials, community organizations, gun safety advocates, and the public, and will lead to a safer and healthier Commonwealth.… Read more.

Senate Acts to Protect Consumers During Real Estate Appraisals

Legislation would establish statewide standards for appraisals, mitigating risk for residents 

(BOSTON–1/18/2024) Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to enhance consumer protections for residents receiving appraisals for their own real estate, or prospective real estate. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues to advance the bill. 

S.2550—An Act providing consumers with equal protection for all real estate appraisals—would require that all real estate appraisals in the state be conducted exclusively by certified or licensed appraisers. If passed into law, the bill would help build consumer trust in the appraisal process by ensuring appraisers are qualified and fall under appropriate regulatory oversight. 

“It is so important that we protect consumers when they purchase real estate, especially given the challenges the shortage of affordable housing puts on those looking to buy a home,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill affords a sense of security to consumers often making the largest purchase in their life, ensuring that real estate appraisals are performed only by certified and qualified appraisers.” 

Under current law, Massachusetts allows any person, without having to meet any standards such as education and experience, to perform valuation services for estate settlements, divorces, business dissolutions or litigation, among other things. This exposes consumers to unreasonable risk, as an individual who is not licensed or certified may prepare unsupportable valuations while operating outside of regulatory oversight and accountability. Unlicensed appraisers also mean that there is no recourse by state’s Division of Occupational Licensure when a consumer is harmed. … Read more.

Senate Acts to Modernize Massachusetts Laws, Repeal Anti-LGBTQIA+ Statutes 

Bill would strike discriminatory laws, establish a permanent commission to recommend outdated legislation for repeal 

(BOSTON–1/18/2024) Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to modernize the Commonwealth’s laws and strike outdated and non-inclusive statutes that are discriminatory against LGBTQ+ individuals in the state. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voted in favor of the measure, which passed unanimously. 

S.2551—An Act relative to archaic lawswould remove archaic laws that intrude on an individual’s privacy regarding sexual activity. The bill would remove existing statutes that criminalize sodomy and so-called ‘unnatural’ acts between consenting adults and make Massachusetts laws more inclusive of individuals who are LGBTQIA+. Terms struck include terminology such as sodomy, “unnatural or lascivious” sex acts, and “common nightwalkers”. In some cases, the language that this bill would strike from the General Laws dates back into the 1800s.  

Additionally, the bill would establish a permanent law revision commission to examine common law, statutes and judicial decisions to identify anachronisms in the law and recommend needed reforms; receive and consider proposed changes; recommend changes in the law to align with modern conditions; and make recommendations to improve the openness and accessibility of state laws. 

“In the Commonwealth, we can pride ourselves on being a welcoming, inclusive state, and we have taken many steps over recent years to further instill those values,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Removing outdated, archaic language that is inconsistent and incompatible with the values of the Commonwealth is a necessary step to further support the LGBTQIA+ community.… Read more.

Friedman Votes For Legislation Prohibiting Cat Declawing in Massachusetts 

Would become third state in the nation to outlaw the inhumane procedure 

(BOSTON–1/18/2024) Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that would prohibit declawing, tendonectomy, and similar procedures from being performed on cats in Massachusetts, except in cases of medical necessity to address a condition that jeopardizes a cat’s health—as determined by a licensed veterinarian.  

Declawing a cat involves amputating the first bone on each toe, and tendonectomies involve cutting a tendon in each toe that controls the extension of claws.  

Cats who have had their claws removed are more likely to experience paw pain, back pain, infection, tissue death, and could be unable to use their legs properly. They are also more likely to incur nerve damage and bone spurs as a result of claw regrowth, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The procedure is commonly performed for human convenience and to prevent damage to furniture, rather than medical necessity. 

“I am very pleased with the Senate’s leadership and unanimous endorsement of this bill,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This is a commonsense proposal that protects our furry friends in the Commonwealth and I hope to see this bill become law this session.” 

S.2552—An Act prohibiting inhumane feline declawing—would only permit licensed veterinarians to declaw a cat if they determine it is medically necessary. Veterinarians who violate the conditions for performing a declawing may be subject to disciplinary action by their licensure board. … Read more.

Supplemental Budget to Close Fiscal Year 2023 Passed by Senate, Signed into Law  

Bill passes shortly after being received from House, clears way for funding of emergency shelter aid and worker contracts

BOSTON (12/04/2023) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate took final action on a supplemental budget designed to close out Fiscal Year 2023. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported the supplemental budget, which totals $3.1 billion and contains several provisions to support the ongoing operations of programs and services that benefit the residents of the Commonwealth.  

To address the ongoing humanitarian emergency shelter crisis, the final bill allocates $250 million to be spent to address costs associated with sheltering eligible families, including by making funding available for temporary emergency shelter sites for families on a waitlist for permanent shelter. The final bill also stipulates that a portion of the $250 million be spent on support services and resources so that individuals and families can address the complex issues and challenges they face, as well as reimbursements to school districts for increased enrollment costs associated with an influx of migrant students. 

“With our final action to close the books on Fiscal Year 2023, we directed funds to meaningful needs of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This supplemental budget provides economic relief to the many communities, including municipalities in the Fourth Middlesex district, who are doing a tremendous job handling the expanded emergency shelter system. We also ensure that we meet our contractual obligations with state collective bargaining units and deliver agreed upon raises to the many deserving state employees during this holiday season.” … Read more.

Senate Passes Friedman-Crafted Pharmaceutical Access, Costs and Transparency (PACT) Act 3.0

Bill continues Senate’s work to lower prescription drug costs, promote transparency, and increase patient access 

BOSTON (11/15/2023) — Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed the bipartisan Act Relative to Pharmaceutical Access, Costs, and Transparency, otherwise known as the PACT Act 3.0. The legislation would make urgent and much-needed reforms to the pharmaceutical system in the state by lowering the cost of drugs at the pharmacy counter and improving oversight of the pharmaceutical industry. 

It also takes firm steps to create more equitable access to life-saving medications by providing a free, no-cost sharing option for certain drugs used to treat chronic illnesses that disproportionately affect people of color.

“Relief from prescription drug costs can’t wait when lives are at stake,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “I look forward to this bill getting signed into law so that residents and seniors who go to the pharmacy counter will finally pay less for the medications they use to stay alive and maintain their quality of life. This reform is in line with the Senate’s commitment to addressing affordability, equity, and transparency, and maintaining the Commonwealth’s competitiveness as a place to live and work. I am extremely grateful for the diligent and tireless work of Senator Friedman and Chair Rodrigues for their leadership on this bill, and to the rest of my colleagues in the Senate for their strong support.”

“I am pleased the Senate has passed this crucial prescription drug legislation,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.… Read more.

Senate Unveils Pharmaceutical Access, Costs and Transparency (PACT) Act 3.0

Revamped bill builds on Senate’s work to reduce prescription drug costs, promote transparency, and increase patient access

BOSTON (11/09/2023) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate unveiled An Act relative to Pharmaceutical Access, Costs and Transparency, otherwise known as the PACT Act 3.0. This comprehensive pharmaceutical cost control legislation is aimed at addressing the rapidly increasing costs of prescription drugs. By connecting the need for greater drug price transparency with policies to improve oversight for the pharmaceutical industry, the PACT Act 3.0 puts the Senate at the forefront of the state’s efforts to tackle rapidly increasing prescription drug costs. It will also reduce drug costs for patients and lower health care costs overall, as well as provide a no-cost sharing option for certain prescription drugs used to treat chronic illnesses that disproportionately affect communities of color and residents with lower income.

“The Senate is deeply committed to continuing its work to advance racial and economic equity, and addressing the burdensome health care costs on communities of color and low-income communities is a key component of this work. That’s why I am so proud that the Senate’s latest version of our prescription drug cost containment legislation directs insurers to offer certain prescription drugs used to treat asthma, heart disease, and diabetes—chronic illnesses that disproportionately affect communities of color and residents with lower income—at a low or no cost to consumers,” state Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Residents can’t wait for prescription drug relief, especially when lives are at stake. This is a bill that will take major steps towards addressing affordability for all our residents, along with increasing access to important life-saving medications.… Read more.

Senate Votes for Historic Expansion of Access to Menstrual Products

Menstrual equity legislation would make products available for free in schools, shelters, and correctional facilities across the state 

(BOSTON–10/26/23) Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation to broadly expand access to menstrual products in a wide range of public facilities across the state.  

The bill — S.2481, An Act to increase access to disposable menstrual products — would require safe and disposable menstrual products to be provided in the Commonwealth’s primary and secondary schools, correctional institutions, shelters, and temporary housing facilities at no cost to recipients. It would also require products to be distributed in a non-stigmatizing and convenient way.  

“The Senate continues to lead on the issue of menstrual equity and expanding access to menstrual products for the over 50 percent of Massachusetts residents that menstruate,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “It is vital that we address the challenges that costs and other barriers present for individuals trying to obtain menstrual products, and this legislation is an impactful step forward in that effort. For the second consecutive session, the Senate has passed this bill and I’m hopeful the House will take swift action this session to put this legislation on the Governor’s desk.” 

Residents who require menstrual products like pads and tampons currently need to buy them, an expense that is particularly burdensome for residents with low incomes or in vulnerable situations. Accessing menstrual products is also difficult for young people and people without access to reliable transportation.  … Read more.

Friedman, Senate Pass Legislation Addressing Massachusetts Pay Inequities

Bill would boost salary transparency, tackle unfair compensation for women and people of color

(BOSTON–10/19/2023) Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to tackle pay inequities in the state, which significantly and disproportionately impact women and people of color across the Commonwealth. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voted to advance the bill, which passed with overwhelming support in the chamber. The bill targets these inequities by empowering employees with salary information, including when they are seeking jobs and receiving promotions, and by giving the state new data tools to track employment trends.

The bill, S.2468, also known as the Frances Perkins Workplace Equity Act, empowers job applicants by requiring employers with 25 or more employees to include salary range information in job postings. It also requires employers to provide salary ranges to employees offered a promotion or a transfer, as well as to employees currently working in a position, should they ask.

“This bill takes a tremendous step towards addressing pay inequities in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The statistics speak for themselves: women, especially women of color, face significant disparities in the level of pay they receive for the same work as their white, male counterparts. By bringing the business community to the table, this bill allows us to provide the transparency and protections our workers and job seekers need to live, succeed, and grow in the Commonwealth. I thank Senate President Karen Spilka for seeing this bill across the finish line in the Senate and for being a steadfast champion of pay equity for many years.”… Read more.