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.

Massachusetts Senate Acts to Establish New Statewide Licensure of Commercial Interior Design

Regulation would help remove barriers to employment opportunities in majority-women field   

(BOSTON–6/06/2024) Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed An act relative to advancing the profession of commercial interior design. Under this legislation, commercial interior designers would have the opportunity to become registered professionals in the state of Massachusetts. As the law currently stands, with certain state and federal projects requiring licensure, Massachusetts designers often have to contract with larger firms or individuals with architectural licenses in order to be eligible for these projects. This often results in lost revenue for interior designers in this majority-women field.  

Creating a licensed profession statewide would enable registered interior designers to bid individually on certain projects currently off-limits, growing small businesses that are often women-led, and incentivizing graduates in the field to stay in Massachusetts to build their careers and not have to go out-of-state to be able to bid on work.  

“This bill continues the critical work underway in Massachusetts to address wage disparity, providing a system of licensure that levels the playing field for our highly educated commercial interior design professionals,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “These professionals deserve to be recognized for the work they do, and this bill is especially important for our small business owners to open up a wider market of projects that their skills already meet.” 

This legislation also has strong support from the International Interior Design Association New England Chapter (IIDA NE) which has been at the forefront of advocacy efforts related to this issue. … Read more.

Friedman, Senate Pass 2025 Budget to Make Community College Free, Invest in Every Region, Open Childcare Seats     

$57.999 billion budget approved unanimously following three days of robust, bipartisan debate   

(BOSTON—5/23/2024) The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously approved a $57.999 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25). Following robust and spirited debate, the Senate adopted over 400 amendments and took 43 roll call votes, adding $89.6 million in spending for statewide initiatives and local priorities for communities around the Commonwealth.   

The budget builds on the Senate’s commitment to fiscal responsibility while delivering historic levels of investment in every level of education, regional equity, and mental health, reflecting the Chamber’s commitment to creating a more affordable, equitable, and competitive Commonwealth.        

“The Senate’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget ensures stability, regional equity, and a high level of quality for the programs that our municipalities and residents need and rely on,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “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 thank Senate President Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues, and my Senate colleagues for their thoughtful approach and dedication to passing a budget that balances fiscal constraints with targeted, impactful investment in our Commonwealth.”  

The Senate’s budget recommends a total of $58 billion in spending, a $1.8 billion increase over the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) General Appropriations Act (GAA). This spending recommendation is based on a tax revenue estimate of $41.5 billion for FY25, which is $208 million less than revenues assumed in the FY24 GAA.… Read more.

Friedman, Haggerty attend the Communities United Legislative Breakfast

WOBURN – State Representative Richard M. Haggerty (D-Woburn) and State Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently attended the Communities United Legislative Breakfast hosted by the Creative Start Children’s Center in Woburn. They were joined by the Center’s management team and parents to discuss the critical role preschool and early childhood education services play for young learners and their families. The Center’s Head Start program provides comprehensive services to low-income children and their families and promotes school readiness for children by supporting their growth and development in a positive learning environment. 

“Access to high-quality preschool and daycare isn’t just crucial for a child’s educational development it’s also an economic issue for working parents and promotes workforce productivity,” said Representative Haggerty. “Events like this help policymakers better understand the impact these services have on both children and their parents as we work to increase access and affordability in our communities and statewide.” 

“I have had the opportunity to visit the Creative Start Children’s Center several times, and it is the perfect example of a high-quality early education center that is doing vital work in our community,” said Senator Friedman. “As a Legislature, we need to make sure that this program and others like it can grow successfully, as we work to increase access for children and families across the Commonwealth.” 

Woburn Creative Start Children’s Center management and parents discuss importance of preschool with Representative Haggerty and Senator Friedman.

The event provided an opportunity for Representative Haggerty and Senator Friedman to hear directly from the preschool management and parents about the importance of reliable, high-quality childcare and preschool services.… Read more.

Senate acts to protect firefighters, increase “hot work” safety 

Legislation would require public database of safety violations 

BOSTON (3/28/2024)—Today the Senate unanimously passed legislation to boost safety for people conducting “hot work”—welding, plasma cutting, and spark-producing construction—by requiring the state to create a public database of violations of the fire prevention statute, and a public notification system to alert workers of violations.  

The passage of S.1485An Act relative to violation of regulation regarding hot work processes—comes in the days following the ten year anniversary of the tragic nine alarm fire in the Back Bay, started by welders working on a nearby iron railing, that resulted in the deaths of two Boston firefighters.  

The Senate bill would work to prevent such tragedies by promoting transparency and prioritizing safety for Massachusetts firefighters. 

“I am glad to see this legislation moving forward to help prevent fires from hot work violations,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Mentored by Senator Ken Donnelly, a former firefighter, I know how important it is that we mitigate the dangers that these first responders face, and I was proud to vote along with my colleagues to unanimously pass this bill.”  

Having been passed by the Senate, the bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration. 

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