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.”

Read more.

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.”

Read more.

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.”

Read more.

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.” 

Read more.

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. 

Read more.

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.”

Read more.

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.

Read more.

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.”

Read more.

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.”

Read more.

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.”

Read more.