Senate Passes Bill to Increase Higher Education Opportunities for People with Disabilities

BOSTON (08/17/20) – The Massachusetts Senate recently passed legislation that removes existing barriers for students with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders or other developmental disabilities so they can attend public institutions of higher education. The bill, which passed with bipartisan support, honors the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law 30 years ago this week by President George H.W. Bush. 

“The passage of this bill in honor of the 30thanniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is an important step in opening more doors for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “I applaud my Senate colleagues and the many schools districts and higher education institutions who partnered on this important bill, which seeks to create a more inclusive Commonwealth for all and ensures that all students – regardless of ability – have equal access to quality higher education.”

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Senate Advances Maternal Health Package

BOSTON (08/17/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed three bipartisanbills to increase birth options and safety for all pregnant and perinatal people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One bill establishes a commission to study barriers to substance use treatment for women in the perinatal period, another establishes a commission to address racial inequities in maternal healthcare in Massachusetts, and a third increases options for safe, professional birthing care in the Commonwealth by licensing midwifery. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted glaring inequities in our health care system, particularly in maternal health,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This package of bills seeks to address these inequities among vulnerable and marginalized populations to ensure that women have access to the care they need to live healthy lives. This legislation builds on the Senate’s ongoing commitment to breakinng down barriers to care and creating a health care system that works better for everyone.”

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Breakfast After the Bell Legislation Becomes Law

BOSTON (8/10/2020) – The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed legislation to fight childhood hunger and boost participation rates in school breakfast programs in schools with high percentages of students from low-income families in the Commonwealth. 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. The bill was signed into law shortly after. 

“Students cannot focus and excel in the classroom if they are hungry,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “When children have access to nutritious meals, they are happier, healthier, and perform better at school. This bill continues the fight against food insecurity by ensuring that more students don’t have to struggle with hunger while at school. Thank you to my legislative colleagues for continually putting the health and well-being of our kids above all else.”  

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Senate Passes Bill to Increase Reporting Requirements for Department of Children and Families

BOSTON (8/7/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate recently passed a bill to introduce new oversight and reporting requirements for the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). The bill, An Act relative to accountability for vulnerable children and families,also moves the child fatality review board to the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), establishes a ‘Foster Parent Bill of Rights,’ and increases access to mental health care for children in the Commonwealth.

“This bill is an important step in maintaining the health and well-being of vulnerable children in our Commonwealth, particularly during this time of increased anxiety and need,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “I’m pleased that this bill reduces barriers to mental health care for children and increases access to treatment, making it easier for parents to get their child the critical care they need and deserve. I’m grateful for Senate President Spilka and all of my Senate colleagues for recognizing the importance of improving mental health care in our state and making it a priority this session.”

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Senate Passes Bill to Limit the Use of Step Therapy

BOSTON (7/30/20) – Today, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation to limit the use of step therapy, or ‘fail-first’ protocols that too often direct patients to cheaper medications rather than those more suitable to treat their condition. The bill, An Act relative to step therapy and patient safety, gives health care providers more leverage in determining the most effective treatment options for patients, saving patients expensive and painful regimens on medications they know to be ineffective or harmful.

“This bill takes an important step toward placing treatment decisions back in the hands of the health care provider and patient by limiting opportunities for insurance companies to force a patient to fail on certain medications before they can access the one most suitable for their needs,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “While we must continue to address the high cost of drugs, we cannot do it at the expense of patients, and cost can never be the primary determinant of whether a patient has to suffer needlessly before they can access the medication that is most effective for treating their condition.”

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Senate Passes ENDURE Act to Provide Relief to Small Businesses, Support for Workers, and Investments in Infrastructure

(BOSTON‑07/30/2020) – The Massachusetts State Senate passed a sweeping economic recovery and development bill on Wednesday that provides much-needed support to businesses, invests in infrastructure, and creates new jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a devastating toll on our economy, presenting serious challenges for restaurants and small businesses, exacerbating housing issues, and impacting sectors of our economy that our communities depend on to thrive,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “The ENDURE Act will help us overcome the significant economic downturn caused by the pandemic, putting our Commonwealth on a pathway toward a more equitable and sustainable economic future. I’d like to thank the Senate President as well as Senators Rodrigues and Lesser for their steadfast leadership in moving this bill through the legislative process with a sense of urgency as our state reopens and recovers.”  

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Senate Passes Bill to Support Brewers, Contribute to Local Economy

BOSTON (7/24/2020) – The Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that resolves a decade-long distribution dispute between brewers and wholesalers in the Commonwealth.

“The craft brewing industry has become a welcome addition to our state’s economy over the last several years,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “Solving this dispute is a big win for breweries in our local communities and will allow them to continue to thrive and contribute to the economic stability of our cities and towns.”

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Friedman Secures Investments to Support Local Transportation Infrastructure Improvements in 4th Middlesex

BOSTON (07/22/2020) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently joined her colleagues in voting on legislation to jumpstart investment in transportation infrastructure and make the Commonwealth’s transportation system more reliable and accessible to residents. 

“This bond bill allows our cities and towns to invest in local transportation projects that will enhance our infrastructure while creating much-needed jobs during this time of financial hardship,” said Senator Friedman. “I’m pleased that I was able to secure vital investments for our community, paving the way for a more modernized transportation infrastructure that works for everyone.” 

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Friedman Votes for Reform, Shift + Build Act, Advocates for Children and Individuals with Behavioral Health Needs

BOSTON (7/15/2020) —The Massachusetts State Senate passed An Act to Reform Police Standards and Shift Resources to Build a More Equitable, Fair and Just Commonwealth that Values Black Lives and Communities of Color(S.2800). Known as the Reform, Shift + Build Act, the comprehensive bill is designed to increase police accountability, shift the role of law enforcement away from surveillance and punishment, and begin to dismantle systemic racism. 

“The Reform, Shift + Build Act is a step in the right direction toward equity, justice and fairness for all,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington). “The police, to a large degree, represent society’s values. If we want lasting change and an end to systemic racism, part of our work must be to look at how we police and what our expectations of the police are. We need to reform practices that disproportionately affect communities of color and reinforce stereotypes that we as a society have allowed to stand for centuries. The Reform, Shift + Build Act is a part of that work. ”

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Friedman Secures Critical Investments in Senate Bond Bill to Modernize CORI System

BOSTON (7/9/2020) – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently joined her colleagues in passing a $1.7 billion General Government Bond Bill focused on capital improvements to improve government infrastructure, empower communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system, support early education and care providers with safe reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic, and expand equitable access to remote learning opportunities for vulnerable populations across the Commonwealth.

“Our antiquated CORI system is just one example of how our system continues to disproportionally impact people of color,” said Senator Friedman. “Now more than ever, we should be investing in the things that strengthen our communities, support our most vulnerable residents and help people restart their lives rather than penalize them for life. I’m pleased that these funds were authorized in this bill, and am grateful for my Senate colleagues for moving this important piece of legislation forward.”

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