Politics: constituent services
Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the state Senate to pass S.2924, An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security (the VOTES Act). This landmark legislation permanently codifies the popular mail-in and early voting options used in Massachusetts in 2020, increases ballot access for voters with disabilities and service members overseas, and takes steps to modernize the Commonwealth’s election administration process.
"The VOTES Act will continue to increase participation in our democracy through a series of reforms aimed at increasing voting accessibility and voter turnout in the Commonwealth,” said Friedman. “This bill enshrines mail-in voting, expands early voting, and increases the opportunity to vote for those with disabilities, serving overseas, and eligible incarcerated members of society. I was proud to support this bill and am hopeful that we can continue to work towards same-day voter registration in the future.”
The Massachusetts State Senate has adopted Amendment No. 388, sponsored by Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), to S.4, the Senate’s fiscal 2023 budget. The amendment seeks to block other states’ laws from attempting to interfere with legally protected health care activity in Massachusetts, as a growing number of states seek to limit access to reproductive or gender-affirming rights outside of their state’s borders.
States like Texas and Oklahoma have already passed so-called “bounty laws” that enable a resident of their state to bring a civil suit against someone in another state who provides, aids, or abets a resident of Texas or Oklahoma in receiving an abortion in another state, even if care in that other state is entirely legal.
"We are now faced with a situation where another state, in state laws enacted by their Legislature, is threatening the rights of law-abiding residents in our commonwealth for engaging in activities legal under our laws enacted by our duly elected Legislature here in Massachusetts," said Friedman, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "This is an egregious and direct attack on a state's ability to make their own laws and protect their own residents."
Amid alarming reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate on April 14 to pass S.2819, An Act Driving Climate Policy Forward, or the Drive Act.
The bill addresses climate change in three primary areas—clean energy, transportation, and buildings—with the aim of achieving the Commonwealth’s ambitious goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, which the Legislature codified into law in 2021. The package includes bills focused on home heating oil and public open space land protection.
“The Senate is committed to taking meaningful action to combat climate change on behalf of the residents in the Commonwealth,” said Friedman, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, in an April 20 news release. “The Drive Act continues these efforts by addressing some of the major challenges before us and seizing opportunities to respond, including expanding clean energy initiatives, encouraging the use of electric vehicles, and promoting the construction of energy-efficient green buildings. This, coupled with the passage of bills to help homeowners address oil spills and to protect our open spaces, marks a momentous step forward in our efforts.”
Rep. Sean Garballey of the 23rd Middlesex District, chair of the Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, was presented with the Advocates for Autism of Massachusetts (AFAM) Legislator of the Year Award.
At the 17th annual Autism Advocacy Day ceremony April 5, a highlight was a speech from Speaker of the House Ron Mariano. He noted Garballey’s exceptional contributions to the autism community as well as his recent accomplishments in the House for budget and American Rescue Plan Act funds that benefit people with autism and their families.
Co-emcees for the event were Heather Hegedus, an, anchor for Boston 25 News and mother of a son with autism, as well as Gyasi Burks-Abbott, an AFAM advisory board member, self-advocate with autism and faculty at the LEND program at Children’s Hospital Boston.
The state Senate, with the support of Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), has passed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act.
The bill prohibits discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles in workplaces, school districts, and any school-related organizations. It passed the Senate unanimously on March 31.
“A person’s natural hair is an extension of themself, and it is due time that we take action to prevent race-based hair discrimination in the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Friedman, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “I thank my colleagues who so passionately advocated on this issue for their work on the CROWN Act, and I look forward to seeing this bill become law soon.”
State Rep. Dave Rogers has nominated Kimberly Haley-Jackson, a constituent from Belmont, for the 2022 Black Excellence on the Hill Award. which recognizes leaders from across the state who are making a positive impact in their communities.
He joined with House colleagues from the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus to celebrate the award, which recognizes leaders from across the state who are making a positive impact in their communities.
“I am happy to have the opportunity to honor her incredible work in the Town of Belmont,” said Rogers, chair of the Committee on Higher Education, in a March 17 news release.
As vice chair of the Belmont Human Rights Commission, chair of the Diversity Task Force and a Town Meeting member, Haley-Jacksony has been committed to Belmont in a variety of ways.
Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) has received the 2022 Legislator of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC).
The honor was presented to Friedman at the 44th annual legislative reception, cohosted by the MDDC and The Arc of Massachusetts. This event, held virtually this year March 8, serves as an annual forum for legislators, people with disabilities and their families, and other community members to celebrate March as Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month.
Given her vocal and zealous advocacy on behalf of the disability community, Senator Friedman was a natural choice for MDDC’s prestigious Legislator of the Year Award. The MDDC lauded the senator’s work on issues that directly impact people with developmental disabilities and their families, including addressing the growing healthcare workforce crisis, enhancing mental health care access, and ensuring the most vulnerable in society are not left behind as the state continues to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in the state Senate on March 10 to unanimously pass legislation to increase public oversight of the administration of state-operated veterans’ homes in Holyoke and Chelsea.
To improve safety and transparency at the veterans’ homes, the bill would restructure the chain of command to more closely match established administrative practices used in hospitals and other large organizations.
This legislation follows continued scrutiny of administrative failures at the veterans’ home in Holyoke, which led to the tragic deaths of 77 veterans during the early days of the pandemic. It builds on recommendations made by the Special Joint Oversight Committee on the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke Covid-19 Outbreak, which investigated the tragedy.
Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) on March 3 joined her colleagues in the state Senate to pass two bills aimed at expanding equitable health-care access for women in Massachusetts.
One bill would help to address the crisis in maternal health by ensuring that pregnant and postpartum mothers and birthing people get necessary and potentially life-saving health care by extending MassHealth insurance coverage to 12 months after pregnancy.
A second bill would direct the state to provide menstrual products free of cost in certain public places, including schools, correctional facilities, and shelters and other temporary housing.
State Rep. Dave Rogers, Democrat of Cambridge, whose district includes Arlington, seeks students interested in internships during the summer for his office at the State House.
Feedback through the past few years is that interns enjoy a richly rewarding experience and learn a great deal about our system of government generally, and the legislative process specifically. Particularly in times like these, it is rewarding to help young people begin to understand the importance of our democratic institutions.
Internships are available to college students, graduates, and high school students who have completed their junior year from the 24th Middlesex District.
The deadline for applications is Friday, April 8 (with some flexibility).
The Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts (WBA) has honored Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) with the organization’s 2022 Public Official of the Year Award during the group's annual legislative breakfast.
This event, hosted by its Legislative Policy Committee and held virtually this year, on Feb. 16, serves as a platform for the WBA to outline its pressing legislative priorities.
WBA President-Elect Kristy Lavigne presented Friedman with the award, citing the senator’s distinguished leadership on policy issues that impact women and children and her unwavering support for women attorneys and women-led organizations.
Friedman spoke about her passion for advocating for policies that positively affect working families and women, and she encouraged constituents and organizations like the WBA to continue to play a proactive advocacy role in the state policymaking process.
The state Senate nn Feb. 17 passed legislation that would designate July 8 as Massachusetts Emancipation Day, also known as Quock Walker Day.
The bill, S.2704, filed by Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), would direct the governor to issue a proclamation commemorating Quock Walker and his legacy each year. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Quock Walker, born to enslaved black parents in Massachusetts, was the driving force behind the 1783 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that slavery was incompatible with the constitution of the Commonwealth.
Seeks to promote transparency, patient access
The state Senate adopted, 39-1, Thursday, Feb. 10, pharmaceutical legislation aimed at addressing the rapidly increasing cost of prescription drugs and seeking to ensure that life-saving medications are affordable, fairly priced and accessible for all consumers.
Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) took a lead role in crafting the legislation, called An Act relative to Pharmaceutical Access, Cost and Transparency (PACT Act 2022), a news release from her office says.
“This legislation moves the Commonwealth one step closer to a system that delivers affordable, high-quality, and accessible care for our residents,” said Friedman, Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “The PACT Act 2022 ensures that more consumers can access prescription drugs at a fair price, by capping out-of-pocket insulin costs, providing relief for certain high-cost drugs, improving patient access to medications and pharmacies of their choice, and enhancing transparency and oversight within the pharmaceutical industry.
State Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined Senate colleagues to pass unanimously legislation aimed at making state identification more accessible to people experiencing homelessness, as well as legislation to allow adoption by close relatives, which is currently prohibited under state law.
“These bills both work to address some of the biggest hurdles to normalcy that struggling families in the Commonwealth face,” stated Senator Friedman, vice chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, in a Jan. 14 news release. “Lack of access to housing should not preclude residents from receiving valid identification and families trying to stay united should not face undue burdens from archaic laws. I was proud to support both bills, and hope that they will be signed into law during this session.”
Amendments target crisis hotline, suicide prevention, access for incarcerated
Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined Senate colleagues to pass the Mental Health ABC Act 2.0: Addressing Barriers to Care (ABC), comprehensive legislation to continue the process of reforming the way mental health care is delivered in Massachusetts, aiming for people to get the mental health care they need when they need it.
This legislation comes at a time when the state Senate is making landmark investments in mental and behavioral health, including $400 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to transform the behavioral health sector, with $122 million dedicated to recruiting and retaining nearly 2,000 behavioral professionals.
The Mental Health ABC Act 2.0 is driven by the recognition that mental health is as important as physical health for every resident of the Commonwealth and should be treated as such. The bill proposes a wide variety of reforms to ensure equitable access to mental health care and remove barriers to care by supporting the behavioral health workforce. Senator Friedman worked alongside Senator Julian Cyr, Senate President Karen Spilka, and Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues to construct the bill.
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