Endorsed by gun violence prevention advocates, district attorneys, and police chiefs, bill is set to protect residents and modernize firearm laws, following extensive debate in the Senate
BOSTON (2/1/2024)—Today, with bipartisan support, the Massachusetts Senate passed An Act to sensibly address firearm violence through effective reform—the SAFER Act—to increase firearm safety in the state without infringing on the rights of gun owners. Following a thorough debate amongst members on the Senate floor, the bill passed 37 to 3, with Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voting in support of the legislation.
The omnibus legislation—S.2572—was introduced following extensive testimony at a November hearing of the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security, where the public provided over four hours of testimony on more than 50 gun safety bills before the committee. Led by Majority Leader Cynthia Stone Creem, the bill’s passage follows months of discussions which included stakeholders and advocates with diverse perspectives on the issue.
The bill’s provisions would help make residents safer—and ultimately save lives—by building on the Commonwealth’s already strong record on gun safety and updating laws to prevent those who wish to do harm from being able to access and use deadly weapons. It would reform and modernize the state’s firearm laws, support the state’s public safety and public health infrastructure in mitigating gun violence, and strengthen accountability and oversight mechanisms for illegal gun activity.
“The Supreme Court’s repeal of gun safety policies in recent years, in tandem with a drastic rise in gun violence nationwide, makes it impossible for us to ignore this moment – we must take meaningful action on this critical issue,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.… Read more.
Multifaceted approach to gun reform set to boost public safety and save lives by adapting to developments in firearms technologies, addressing illegal firearm activity, and supporting at-risk individuals and communities
BOSTON (1/25/2024)—Today, the Massachusetts Senate introduced Senate bill S.2572, An act to sensibly address firearm violence through effective reform—the SAFER Act—comprehensive gun safety legislation to reform and modernize the state’s firearm laws, support the state’s public safety and public health infrastructure in mitigating gun violence, and strengthen accountability and oversight mechanisms for illegal gun activity. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined Senate colleagues at the State House in support of the legislation as it was unveiled.
The omnibus legislation would help make residents safer—and ultimately save lives—by building on the Commonwealth’s already strong record on gun safety and updating laws to prevent those who wish to do harm from being able to access and use deadly weapons.
This proposed legislation focuses on common sense policies that will reduce gun crime and gun injuries in the Commonwealth, without infringing on the legal rights of responsible gun owners. It updates the state’s laws to provide law enforcement agencies with the necessary support to tackle today’s concerns relating to gun violence prevention and keep Massachusetts at the forefront of gun safety.
“Gun violence is a public health crisis, and it should be treated as such,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This sweeping legislation was crafted with the input of law enforcement officials, community organizations, gun safety advocates, and the public, and will lead to a safer and healthier Commonwealth.… Read more.
Legislation would establish statewide standards for appraisals, mitigating risk for residents
(BOSTON–1/18/2024) Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to enhance consumer protections for residents receiving appraisals for their own real estate, or prospective real estate. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues to advance the bill.
S.2550—An Act providing consumers with equal protection for all real estate appraisals—would require that all real estate appraisals in the state be conducted exclusively by certified or licensed appraisers. If passed into law, the bill would help build consumer trust in the appraisal process by ensuring appraisers are qualified and fall under appropriate regulatory oversight.
“It is so important that we protect consumers when they purchase real estate, especially given the challenges the shortage of affordable housing puts on those looking to buy a home,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This bill affords a sense of security to consumers often making the largest purchase in their life, ensuring that real estate appraisals are performed only by certified and qualified appraisers.”
Under current law, Massachusetts allows any person, without having to meet any standards such as education and experience, to perform valuation services for estate settlements, divorces, business dissolutions or litigation, among other things. This exposes consumers to unreasonable risk, as an individual who is not licensed or certified may prepare unsupportable valuations while operating outside of regulatory oversight and accountability. Unlicensed appraisers also mean that there is no recourse by state’s Division of Occupational Licensure when a consumer is harmed. … Read more.
Bill would strike discriminatory laws, establish a permanent commission to recommend outdated legislation for repeal
(BOSTON–1/18/2024) Today, the Massachusetts Senate passed legislation to modernize the Commonwealth’s laws and strike outdated and non-inclusive statutes that are discriminatory against LGBTQ+ individuals in the state. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) voted in favor of the measure, which passed unanimously.
S.2551—An Act relative to archaic laws—would remove archaic laws that intrude on an individual’s privacy regarding sexual activity. The bill would remove existing statutes that criminalize sodomy and so-called ‘unnatural’ acts between consenting adults and make Massachusetts laws more inclusive of individuals who are LGBTQIA+. Terms struck include terminology such as sodomy, “unnatural or lascivious” sex acts, and “common nightwalkers”. In some cases, the language that this bill would strike from the General Laws dates back into the 1800s.
Additionally, the bill would establish a permanent law revision commission to examine common law, statutes and judicial decisions to identify anachronisms in the law and recommend needed reforms; receive and consider proposed changes; recommend changes in the law to align with modern conditions; and make recommendations to improve the openness and accessibility of state laws.
“In the Commonwealth, we can pride ourselves on being a welcoming, inclusive state, and we have taken many steps over recent years to further instill those values,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Removing outdated, archaic language that is inconsistent and incompatible with the values of the Commonwealth is a necessary step to further support the LGBTQIA+ community.… Read more.
Would become third state in the nation to outlaw the inhumane procedure
(BOSTON–1/18/2024) Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed legislation that would prohibit declawing, tendonectomy, and similar procedures from being performed on cats in Massachusetts, except in cases of medical necessity to address a condition that jeopardizes a cat’s health—as determined by a licensed veterinarian.
Declawing a cat involves amputating the first bone on each toe, and tendonectomies involve cutting a tendon in each toe that controls the extension of claws.
Cats who have had their claws removed are more likely to experience paw pain, back pain, infection, tissue death, and could be unable to use their legs properly. They are also more likely to incur nerve damage and bone spurs as a result of claw regrowth, according to the Humane Society of the United States. The procedure is commonly performed for human convenience and to prevent damage to furniture, rather than medical necessity.
“I am very pleased with the Senate’s leadership and unanimous endorsement of this bill,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This is a commonsense proposal that protects our furry friends in the Commonwealth and I hope to see this bill become law this session.”
S.2552—An Act prohibiting inhumane feline declawing—would only permit licensed veterinarians to declaw a cat if they determine it is medically necessary. Veterinarians who violate the conditions for performing a declawing may be subject to disciplinary action by their licensure board. … Read more.
Legislation leverages Stabilization Fund interest to compete for federal funds for transportation, housing, climate and economic development projects
BOSTON (01/11/2024) – Today, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate to pass S.2548, An Act to provide for competitiveness and infrastructure investment in Massachusetts, an economic development bill that takes advantage of the interest accrued from the Commonwealth’s Stabilization Fund and leverages that interest to ensure the state receives the maximum possible share of federal funds. The Commonwealth’s Stabilization fund currently has a historic balance of $8.2 billion.
It is estimated Massachusetts currently has the opportunity to receive up to $17.5 billion through historic, once-in-a-generation federal funding opportunities.
“Our action in the Senate today is both fiscally responsible and prudent as we invest in the future of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “By maintaining a healthy reserve balance in the Commonwealth Stabilization Fund, while also allowing the interest the fund generates to match grants for federal funding opportunities, this legislation opens a key tool for the state to stay competitive and help fund projects that will have a positive impact on residents of Massachusetts for years to come.”
This smart financial accounting initiative will require the Comptroller to transfer interest from the stabilization fund to the Commonwealth Federal Matching and Debt Reduction Fund on a quarterly basis if the stabilization balance is of a healthy amount. The Secretary of Administration and Finance would then pursue federal funding opportunities available thanks to the historic availability of federal funds for infrastructure, resiliency and economic development projects. … Read more.
Bill extends wheelchair warranties, requires faster repairs and replacements, bringing Massachusetts in line with neighboring states
BOSTON (1/4/2024)—Today, the Massachusetts Senate voted to strengthen consumer protections for wheelchair users. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues to move the legislation forward with a unanimous vote.
An Act expanding wheelchair warranty protections for consumers with disabilities—S.2541—requires all wheelchairs to come with warranties, extends the minimum warranty period to two years, sets standards for wheelchair repairs and replacements, and eliminates the cumbersome prior authorization process for all wheelchair repairs under $1,000.
“Ensuring that wheelchairs, an essential medical device, have strong warranty protections is so important as we continue to work towards making the Commonwealth a more inclusive place for all our residents” said Senator Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “I am proud that the Senate passed this legislation again this session to improve the accessibility of our state in an equitable fashion, and I hope it will become law this year.”
The legislation, which has received strong support from disability advocates in Massachusetts, requires all wheelchairs sold or leased in the Commonwealth to come with express warranties—a change from the current law, which only requires customized wheelchairs to come with express warranties. The legislation also extends express warranties for wheelchairs from one year to two years, bringing Massachusetts in line with states like Rhode Island and Connecticut. To alleviate wait times for repairs, the bill mandates that wheelchair service providers diagnose repair issues remotely within three business days following notice from a consumer and provide an in-person assessment no more than four business days after that. … Read more.
Commonsense harm reduction strategy proven to encourage safer consumption behavior, save lives
BOSTON (1/4/2024)—Today, the Massachusetts Senate debated and unanimously passed An Act relative to fentanyl test strips—S.2543—legislation to help prevent overdoses and save lives by making legal the sale, possession, and distribution of fentanyl test strips, and other testing equipment used to identify fentanyl, in the Commonwealth. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), a long-time advocate of harm reduction policies, voted to pass the measure.
If passed into law, the bill would add a potent tool to support drug users in knowing whether they are consuming fentanyl. Fentanyl test strips are a proven harm reduction strategy that have been shown to help drug users engage in less risky behavior, including by discarding drugs, reducing doses, using drugs more slowly, using drugs with someone else around, or keeping naloxone nearby.
“Since taking office in 2017, I’ve been vocal about the need to implement policies that promote harm reduction for vulnerable residents struggling with substance use,” said Senator Friedman, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This legislation, like other actions we’ve taken as a state, would reduce harm in a way that is easy to use and is not cost prohibitive. I will continue to support commonsense measures like this that save lives and give those struggling with substance use disorder a better chance at recovery.”
Fentanyl-related overdoses are far too frequent in Massachusetts. Between October 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023, 2,323 people suffered from overdoses in Massachusetts, and in the first three months of 2023, fentanyl was present in 93% of fatal overdoses.… Read more.
Legislation would help facilitate better interactions between people with autism and law enforcement officers
BOSTON (1/4/2024)—Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed An Act facilitating better interactions between police officers and persons with autism spectrum disorder—also known as the “Blue Envelope” bill—to improve communication during traffic stops involving a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The bill would create a voluntary program that would make available blue envelopes that people with autism could carry with them while driving and hand over to a police officer in the event that they are pulled over. A driver could place their license, registration, and insurance cards inside the envelope, and the outside of the envelope would note that the driver has Autism Spectrum Disorder and provide guidance on best practices on how to interact with the individual.
The envelope’s guidance—which would be created by a coalition of advocates, Chiefs of Police, and the RMV—would help law enforcement officers to better understand the actions of individuals with autism, who are more likely to have increased sensitivities and communication challenges in stressful situations.
“The Blue Envelope bill would provide a subtle, yet meaningful mechanism to ensure that drivers with Autism Spectrum Disorder can remain comfortable and communicate calmly in situations that have the potential to cause significant stress, such as interactions with members of law enforcement during traffic stops,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This is a simple solution that will have a hugely beneficial impact on neuro-diverse drivers and law enforcement officers across the Commonwealth.” … Read more.
Bill passes shortly after being received from House, clears way for funding of emergency shelter aid and worker contracts
BOSTON (12/04/2023) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate took final action on a supplemental budget designed to close out Fiscal Year 2023. Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported the supplemental budget, which totals $3.1 billion and contains several provisions to support the ongoing operations of programs and services that benefit the residents of the Commonwealth.
To address the ongoing humanitarian emergency shelter crisis, the final bill allocates $250 million to be spent to address costs associated with sheltering eligible families, including by making funding available for temporary emergency shelter sites for families on a waitlist for permanent shelter. The final bill also stipulates that a portion of the $250 million be spent on support services and resources so that individuals and families can address the complex issues and challenges they face, as well as reimbursements to school districts for increased enrollment costs associated with an influx of migrant students.
“With our final action to close the books on Fiscal Year 2023, we directed funds to meaningful needs of the Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “This supplemental budget provides economic relief to the many communities, including municipalities in the Fourth Middlesex district, who are doing a tremendous job handling the expanded emergency shelter system. We also ensure that we meet our contractual obligations with state collective bargaining units and deliver agreed upon raises to the many deserving state employees during this holiday season.” … Read more.