Senator Friedman Joins Senate Colleagues to Pass FY 2021 Budget

Includes increased funding for sectors impacted by COVID-19, including housing and childcare

(BOSTON – 11/20/2020) This week, Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in unanimously passing a $46 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21), after adding $36.1 million in targeted investments over the course of two days of deliberations. Passed with bipartisan support, the budget aims to move the Commonwealth towards an equitable recovery by making critical investments in sectors impacted by COVID-19 including early education and childcare, food security, housing supports, and public health.

“I am proud to have voted in favor of this budget—the $46 billion in funding will help our residents, especially those who are most vulnerable, as the Commonwealth continues to face new and unprecedented challenges that have emerged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The Senate’s investments in behavioral health services, housing protections, reproductive health access, education, and food insecurity in particular are crucial steps toward ensuring a more equitable economic recovery and a more equitable Commonwealth for all.”

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Senate Ways and Means Releases FY 2021 Budget

BOSTON (11/12/2020) – Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means announced a $45.98 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). The Committee’s budget is a responsible and balanced plan that ensures fiscal stability and recommends targeted investments to protect access to core essential services, address urgent needs, and support efforts to build an equitable recovery for the Commonwealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am proud of this budget – it is a significant step toward addressing the real and immediate needs of the Commonwealth as our state continues to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “The spending priorities reflect our strong commitment to protecting the fundamental needs of our residents, such as childcare, housing, food security and healthcare.” 

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Legislature Passes Bill to Extend Unemployment Benefits to 17,000 Low-Income Recipients

BOSTON (11/2/2020) – The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed legislation to enhance unemployment benefits for 17,000 people in Massachusetts by as much as $1800 each. The legislation was signed into law by the Governor shortly after. 

“The Senate is committed to helping the most vulnerable residents in our Commonwealth as we continue to confront the ongoing pandemic, and this bill reflects that commitment,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “During this difficult financial time, we need to do everything we can to support those in need so they can support themselves and their families.”

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Senate Passes Bill to Require Insurance Coverage for Children with PANS/PANDAS

BOSTON (10/30/2020) – On October 29, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation that would mandate insurance coverage for children with pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndromes (PANS) and pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS). The bill, An Act relative to insurance coverage for PANDAS/PANS, would ensure that children with PANS or PANDAS receive optimal care by helping patients and their families access specialized diagnostic tests and effective treatments.

“This legislation is a common sense step in the right direction toward ensuring that families that have children with this challenging condition receive equitable access to the treatment they need and deserve,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill also builds on the Senate’s ongoing commitment to putting patients first by continuing to place treatment decisions in the hands of medical professionals, not insurance companies. I commend Senate President Spilka for continuing to lead the way on expanding access to health care for all as well as my fellow Senate colleagues who played an integral role in passing this bill.” 

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Senate Passes Legislation Ensuring Safe Patient Access to Emergency Care

(BOSTON – 10/23/2020) On October 22, the Massachusetts State Senate passed An Act to ensure safe patient access to emergency care, also known as “Laura’s Law,” in memory of Somerville resident Laura Beth Levis, who died in 2016 from an asthma attack just steps from an emergency-room door.

“No one should ever lose their life outside an emergency room due to poor signage and dim lighting,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “What happened to Laura Levis was tragic, heart-breaking and, frankly, could have been prevented. With the passage of “Laura’s Law” in the Senate, we hope to protect patients and ensure that a similar tragedy never happens again.” 

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Friedman Asked to Join State’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group

BOSTON (10/9/2020) – On October 7, 2020, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) was invited to join the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group, created to advance the Baker Administration’s efforts to prepare for the distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.

“I’m honored to have been asked to join the advisory group, and am eager to collaborate with fellow members to support the planning process already underway,” said Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “As we prepare for the arrival of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, we must ensure that we can distribute and administer it safely and equitably across the Commonwealth – and I look forward to being part of that conversation.”

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Friedman Honored with Spirit of Compassion Award for Mental Health Advocacy

BOSTON (9/24/2020) – The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) recently honored Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) with their Spirit of Compassion Award during its 107th Annual – and first ever virtual – Friend and Leader Awards Event. This annual event salutes individuals whose work contributes to progress in awareness, health promotion, prevention and effective treatment for children and adults affected by mental health challenges throughout Massachusetts. 

“As a parent of someone with a severe mental illness, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate the mental health care system in Massachusetts,” said Friedman. “I’m honored to be recognized for my commitment to this issue, and I am grateful to MAMH’s continued collaboration and tireless advocacy on behalf of some of the most vulnerable people in our state.”

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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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