Senate Passes Bill to Expand Scope of Practice During COVID-19 Emergency

BOSTON (3/26/20) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to expand the scope of practice for certain health care professionals for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This bill removes barriers to immediate care by granting certain health care professionals the authority to work at the top of their license, education and training to ensure that our health care system can meet the increased demand it’s currently seeing due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

“We’ve heard loud and clear from the health care provider community that they need their professionals working at the top of their license in order to manage the increased demand that the coronavirus outbreak has brought on our health care system,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill allows health care professionals, advanced practice registered nurses in particular, to work at the height of their training and education, maximizing safe and efficient care delivery and increasing access to care for all those in need. I’d like to thank the Senate President and Chair Rodrigues for their leadership on this issue and for their continued commitment to increasing access to critical care as we address this public health emergency.”

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Friedman Supports Bill to Empower Cities and Towns to Postpone and Reschedule Municipal Elections

BOSTON (3/24/20) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported a bill that passed the Senate and House to help protect public health by providing cities and towns the authority to postpone and reschedule certain municipal elections and related activities. The bill was signed into law by the Governor shortly after. 

“As we address COVID-19, we must do everything we can to uphold our democracy,” said Senator Friedman. “I’m pleased that this bill empowers our municipalities to delay elections and allow vote-by-mail and absentee voting options to ensure that voters can safely make their voices heard. I want to thank Senate President Spilka and Speaker DeLeo for getting this done so expeditiously.” 

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Friedman Supports Bill Waiving Waiting Period for Unemployment Benefits

On March 18, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported a bill that passed the Senate that waives the one-week waiting period for any person making a claim for unemployment benefits, if the unemployment is a result of any circumstances relating to or resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak or the effects of the Governor’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 10, 2020. This step was taken so that workers impacted by COVID-19 can access the benefits they need right away.

“The coronavirus outbreak has posed serious financial challenges for many workers in our district and the Commonwealth,” said Friedman, who serves on the Senate Working Group tasked with addressing COVID-19 challenges in Massachusetts. “This bill will allow workers that have been impacted by this public health emergency to access the benefits they need right away. This is just one step of many that we will take to provide relief to our residents during this difficult time.”

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Friedman, Gordon Laud Skills Capital Grant Awarded to Burlington High School

BOSTON (3/5/20) – Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) and Representative Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) lauded the announcement that Burlington High School received a Skills Capital Grant to update equipment and expand student enrollment in programs that provide career education.

Burlington High School received $225,700, which will be used to improve the equipment in its Innovation Pathway program in information technology. “These funds will be used to enhance our student’s learning experience and allow them to use the most up to date equipment to maximize their education,” said Friedman. “Through this opportunity, Burlington High students will be able to develop the skills necessary to be more effective and successful when they eventually enter the workforce.” 

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Senate Advances Bills on Persons with Disabilities and Homelessness

BOSTON (3/2/20) — Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently joined her colleagues in passing two bills that update state laws to reflect the phrase ‘persons with disabilities,’ and create a process for homeless adults or minors to apply for a state identification card.

“The passage of these bills reflects the Senate’s commitment to standing up for every single resident in Massachusetts regardless of ability or socioeconomic background,” said Friedman. “I’m proud of the Senate for advancing these important initiatives which seek to humanize and acknowledge members of our society who are often unable to advocate for themselves.”

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Senate Passes FY 2020 Mid-Year Supplemental Budget

BOSTON (2/28/20)  – On February 28, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in passing a mid-year supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2020 of $123 million in spending to address time sensitive deficiencies and unforeseen needs across the Commonwealth that require immediate attention.  

“This budget demonstrates the Senate’s commitment to providing residents across the state with the resources they need to sustain their lives while maintaining fiscal responsibility,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Most notably, this budget maintains critical heating assistance for low-income households, increases healthy food options, supports our students, and funds an important behavioral health awareness campaign to improve the well-being of residents across the Commonwealth.”

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Senate Passes Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care

(BOSTON – 02/13/2020)  Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed the Mental Health ABC Act, comprehensive legislation aimed at reforming the mental health care system in Massachusetts. Senate Bill 2519, An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health, serves as the first step toward developing a more integrated system of mental health care delivery to better meet the needs of individuals and families.

“For far too long, mental health has been a forgotten component of our health care system, resulting in a broken system that has continually left patients without the critical care they need,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill lays an important foundation for creating a system that is accessible and equitable, and provides the state with better tools to ensure that someone with a mental health condition has the same access to care as someone with physical health needs. I want to sincerely thank Senate President Spilka for recognizing the urgency of this issue and committing to a bold step forward with the passage of this bill. I also want to thank Senator Cyr, Senator Rodrigues and all of the advocates involved in crafting this bill for their thoughtful collaboration and shared commitment to reforming our mental health care system so that it works for everyone.”

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Senate Unveils Mental Health ABC Act: Addressing Barriers to Care

BOSTON – On February 6, the Massachusetts Senate unveiled An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health, comprehensive legislation aimed at providing a framework for reforming mental health care in Massachusetts. The Mental Health ABC Act removes barriers to timely quality care, provides the state with more effective tools to enforce existing mental health parity laws, and invests in the mental and behavioral health workforce pipeline. This legislation reflects the Senate’s overall goal of improving mental health care for all – a personal priority for Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) who served as one of the chief architects of the bill.

“For far too long, mental health has been a forgotten component of our healthcare system despite our statutory parity mandate that calls for equitable coverage between medical and surgical treatment and mental health treatment,” said Senator Friedman, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill serves as a first step forward in addressing the persisting inequities in our delivery of mental health services that keep patients from accessing the care they need, and will provide a framework for the state to better enforce our mental health parity laws. I want to thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and Senator Cyr for their thoughtful collaboration on this initiative and shared commitment to reforming our mental health care system so it is accessible, affordable, and equitable for all.”

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Friedman Votes on Next Generation Climate Policy, Advocates for Low Income Communities

BOSTON – On January 30, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in advancing three pieces of legislation that boldly tackle the contributing factors of climate change, propose one of the most forward-thinking courses of action against global warming in the country, and pave the way for a clean energy future for all of its residents.

“The Senate has shown its commitment to combating climate change with a sense of urgency by passing this next generation climate proposal,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “I’m pleased that we took this major step forward to protect our environment, and am particularly proud that this legislation includes an amendment I fought for that would protect low-income families when the state is developing regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our communities. I want to thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and my Lexington counterpart Senator Barrett for taking the lead on this issue and putting Massachusetts on a path toward a clean, green and sustainable future.”

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Massachusetts Senate Passes Breakfast After the Bell Legislation

BOSTON – On January 16, Senator Cindy F. Friedman, D-Arlington, joined her Senate colleagues in unanimously passing legislation to fight childhood hunger and boost participation rates in school breakfast programs in the Commonwealth’s high-poverty schools. The bill, An Act regarding breakfast after the bell, would require all public K-12 schools with 60 percent or more students eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the federal National School Lunch Program to offer breakfast after the instructional day begins.

“No child should ever have to go hungry or wonder where their next meal will come from,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman. “When our kids have access to nutritious meals, they do better in school – that’s why I’m proud the Senate passed this bill and has continually prioritized the health and well-being of our children throughout the Commonwealth.”

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