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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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. ”
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.”
BOSTON (7/7/2020) – Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) recently joined her legislative colleagues in passing a bill that expands voter access and ensures safe voting options for all remaining 2020 elections, including the September 1, 2020 state primary and the November 3, 2020 general election. The bill, An Act relative to voting options in response to COVID-19, was signed into law by the Governor on July 6, 2020.
“As we continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that Massachusetts voters can safely cast their ballot in our upcoming elections without risking exposure to the virus,” said Senator Friedman. “This historic bill expands voting options to do just that, strengthening our democracy and promoting voter participation this fall. I’d like to thank my colleagues in the Senate and House for their hard work on this important bill.”
BOSTON (7/7/20) – On July 2, 2020, Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her Senate colleagues in passing a $1.1B supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2020 to support extraordinary costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic that require immediate attention. The spending authorized in this supplemental budget will maximize federal financial support while providing critical resources for our most vulnerable populations.
“This supplemental budget is a reflection of the Senate’s ongoing commitment to supporting residents throughout the Commonwealth as we continue to address the COVID-19 public health crisis,” said Senator Friedman, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I’m especially pleased that this budget includes investments I fought for to address food insecurity and mental health needs in my district, which have been exacerbated as a result of the pandemic.”
BOSTON (6/25/2020) – Today, the Massachusetts Senate unanimously passed the Patients First Act, the third piece of signature healthcare legislation advanced by the body to increase access to health care, protect patients, and enhance quality care. The legislation builds on vital lessons learned during the COVID-19 public health crisis, as unprecedented demands on the healthcare system have prompted innovation and the expedited adoption of policy changes.
“The Patients First Act ensures that our healthcare system can continue to deliver quality, affordable and accessible care long after the COVID-19 state of emergency has ended,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “By increasing access to telehealth services, eliminating the unfair practice of surprise billing, and expanding our healthcare workforce, we are taking important steps to protect patients and increase access to quality care for all. Thank you to Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and all of my Senate colleagues for their shared commitment to improving our healthcare system in Massachusetts so that it truly puts patients first.”