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Delegation backs MCAS waiver, helping vulnerable amid crisis

State Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) supported legislation passed by the Senate and House that provides testing and budgetary flexibility to school districts and supports those experiencing homelessness in the Commonwealth. The bill was signed into law by the governor Friday, April 11.

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

sgarballey 19 4519Garballey

Dave RogersRogers

“The Legislature has taken additional steps forward to support students and protect vulnerable populations in our Commonwealth,” Friedman said in an April 14 news release.

“I’m particularly pleased that this bill waives MCAS requirements for the remainder of the academic year. Our students' routines have been disrupted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and we simply cannot expect them to participate in these exams during this time of constant change.

"Thank you to the Senate President and my legislative colleagues for their hard work and collaboration on this legislation.”

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Friedman announces run for Senate reelection

Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) announced on Friday, Feb. 21, her bid for reelection to continue representing the 4th Middlesex District. 

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

She was first elected to the Senate in July 2017 after winning a special election following the unexpected death of then-state Sen. Ken Donnelly (D-Arlington). 

“It has been an honor and a privilege to represent the 4th Middlesex, and I could not be more thankful to my constituents for giving me the chance to do this important work,” Friedman said in a news release. “Thank you for believing in me, trusting me, and supporting my efforts over the years – your confidence and continued engagement truly energizes my work each day.”

Since becoming state senator, Friedman has championed several major pieces of legislation. In her first term, Friedman led the effort in the Senate to pass a comprehensive bill to combat the opioid crisis and ensure greater access to appropriate treatment. During that time, she also played an integral role in securing funding to support workforce training for unemployed and underemployed workers in high-demand industries as well as increasing access to jail diversion programs to reduce unnecessary incarceration throughout the Commonwealth.

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Mental-health bill addressing barriers to care approved

UPDATED, Feb. 14: The Massachusetts Senate approved Thursday, Feb. 13, a package of mental-heath legislation supported by state Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), one of the chief architects of the bill.

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

A Boston Globe editorial has urged passage, saying the heasures are "aimed at bringing actual practice into the 21st century." The editorial says a vote could come that day.  To track the progress of the bill, S.2519, click here >>

A Globe report by AP said the bill was approved and moves to the House. MassLive has more details >>

On Feb. 6, the state Senate unveiled An Act Addressing Barriers to Care for Mental Health, comprehensive legislation aimed at providing a framework for reforming mental health care in Massachusetts. The Mental Health ABC Act removes barriers to timely quality care, provides the state with more effective tools to enforce existing mental-health parity laws, and invests in the mental- and behavioral-health workforce pipeline.

This legislation reflects the Senate’s overall goal of improving mental health care for all – a personal priority for Friedman, a news release from her office says.

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Senate OKs bill aiming for medically accurate sex ed in schools

Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) on Jan. 16 joined Senate colleagues in passing the Healthy Youth Act.

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

The bill aims to ensure that Massachusetts schools electing to provide their students with sex education use age-appropriate and medically accurate information that covers a comprehensive range of topics.

 The legislation also calls for sex education to be inclusive and appropriate for students regardless of gender, race, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity.

“Ensuring that our school districts provide medically accurate and age-appropriate sex education is commonsense,” Friedman said in a news release the day after the vote.

“Particularly in the era of the #MeToo movement, it’s critical that our youth understand the meaning of consent, how to build healthy relationships, the benefits of delaying sex, how to prevent STIs and pregnancy, and LGBTQIA+ health needs. Thank you to the students from my district who came to my office to advocate for this important bill, which will ensure that all youth are well-informed and equipped with the tools they need to lead healthy lives.”

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Friedman receives award for work on mental-health initiatives

Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently received the “Outstanding Public Official Award” from Vinfen, a health and human services organization that provides community-based services for people with disabilities.

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

At its 12th annual Celebration of Family Partnerships this fall, Vinfen honored the dedicated family members, guardians, advocates, self-advocates and staff who support the individuals it serves. 

The Vinfen “Outstanding Public Official Award” is given to a legislator each year in recognition of his or her efforts to promote the human and civil rights of constituents with intellectual, psychiatric and other disabilities; who fights for legislation that reinforces and respects those rights; and who supports Vinfen’s mission to help transform lives.

“All people, including those with behavioral health challenges or disabilities, should be able to lead full and productive lives – free from prejudice and discrimination – and receive support from their communities,” Friedman said in a Jan. 3 news release. She is cochair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.

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Friedman named Legislator of the Year for work protecting seniors

Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) has been named Legislator of the Year by the Massachusetts chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. At its annual meeting on Dec. 5, the group honored several individuals for their advocacy of elder services and their commitment to raising awareness of legal issues affecting seniors.

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

The award is given to a legislator each year in recognition of his or her efforts in passing legislation that protects seniors, particularly those with special needs and disabilities.

“We must do everything we can to ensure that every individual in need of care – regardless of age or ability – is supported and has access to the appropriate resources,” Friedman, cochair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, said in a Dec. 16 news release. “Thank you to the Mass. Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for recognizing my work and for striving each and every day to better the lives of those most vulnerable in our Commonwealth.”

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Education-funding bill to give town public schools $2M more

Impact of law | Prop. 2 1/2 provision

UPDATED, Nov. 27: With the largest update to educational funding since 1993 under a bill adopted by both houses Nov. 20, Arlington is expected to receive more than $2 million more in next year’s budget for Chapter 70 aid. The total amount due for Arlington is not yet known.

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The $1.5 billion K-12 funding bill, which Gov. Baker expects to sign Nov. 26, aims to benefit students in every school district in the Commonwealth, regardless of income level or ZIP code. The investment is intended to update statewide education policy and support effective approaches to closing opportunity gaps for students throughout the Commonwealth. 

The committee report was enthusiastically supported by the Arlington delegation, comprising state Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Rep. David Rogers (D-Cambridge). Both the House and Senate voted unanimously to enact the bill.

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Senate OKs bill aiming to stem drug costs, boost transparency

 The state Senate has passed legislation aimed at controlling pharmaceutical costs.

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

The PACT Act seeks to stem costs of prescription drugs, by connecting the need for greater drug price transparency with policies to improve oversight over the pharmaceutical industry.

“This bill will bring us one step closer toward addressing rising costs within our health-care system that continually impact patients’ ability to access the care they need,” Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, said in a Nov. 14 news release. “By reining in prescription drug costs and increasing transparency and oversight within the pharmaceutical industry, we can drive down costs and improve patient outcomes.”

The release says the legislation “will put Massachusetts at the forefront of the state’s efforts to tackle increasing drug costs. It will also reduce drug costs to patients and lower health care costs overall.”

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Leaders advocate for funds to support jail-diversion programs

State Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D–Arlington), Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian and Dr. Danna Mauch have testified before the Joint Committee on Revenue supporting legislation that would create a permanent fund to help divert individuals with a mental illness or substance use disorder away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate treatment.

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

Peter J. Koutoujian, sheriffKoutoujian

The bill, S.1662, would create a Criminal Justice and Community Support Trust Fund, which could be used to fund restoration centers, community-based jail diversion programs and community policing and behavioral health trainings.

“The state has made progress over the last few years to divert individuals with behavioral health conditions away from the criminal justice system and into treatment centers,” said Friedman, lead sponsor of the bill, in a Nov. 1 news release. “This trust fund would allow the Commonwealth to continue this effort by supporting effective jail diversion strategies that will bring us one step closer to ending the criminalization of people suffering from an illness. I’m grateful for Sheriff Koutoujian and Danna Mauch for their collaboration and support of this initiative, and I hope it crosses the finish line this session.”

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Town awarded $38,500 grant to boost recycling

The Town of Arlington has been awarded $38,500 from the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grant, which aims  to help maximize recycling, composting and waste-reduction programs in the town.

Sean Garballey

Cindy Friedman

And the legislative delegation representing the town – Sen. Cindy Friedman, Rep. Sean Garballey and Rep. Dave Rogers, all Democrats – has praised it.

Under the waste program, which was created by the Green Communities Act and is administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection, 219 communities qualified for the “Recycling Dividends Program” and will receive payments ranging from $2,100 to $97,500 for a total of $2.93 million statewide.

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Senate OKs $1.5B Student Opportunity Act, as Globe reports changes

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) has joined her Senate colleagues in unanimously passing the Student Opportunity Act, which would invest an unprecedented $1.5 billion in Massachusetts K-12 public education.

This legislation aims to ensure public schools have adequate resources to provide high-quality education to students across the state, regardless of ZIP code or income level. Assuming inflation, over time the bill could provide an estimated $2.2 billion.

The vote took place Oct. 3, and since then, The Globe has reported that changes has “chipped away at support” for education legislation passed in September.

The Student Opportunity Act would significantly help school districts that serve high concentrations of low-income students. At the same time, school districts across the Commonwealth would benefit from updates to the existing funding formula, along with increased state investment in other vital education aid programs such as transportation, school construction and renovation and special education.

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Arlington delegation lauds education-funding bill

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

Sean GarballeyGarballey

Bill increases funds for Arlington schools seeking equal opportunity for students

Sen. Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington), Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) have lauded the efforts of House and Senate leaders following the release of the Student Opportunity Act .

The bill, S.2348, would put into effect all five recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, investing $1.5 billion to support Massachusetts public education through Chapter 70 funding over the next seven years. This legislation would ensure that public schools have adequate resources to provide high-quality, comprehensive education to all students across the state, regardless of ZIP code or income level.

“Every child – regardless of their socioeconomic status – should have access to a quality education that allows them to excel,” Friedman said in Sept. 25 news release. “This bill is a huge step in the right direction toward providing students in Arlington with the educational opportunity they deserve. I applaud my colleagues on the Education Committee for producing a landmark bill that benefits every child in our community and the Commonwealth.”

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DiDomenico aide first from state to get national legislative award

Christie Getto Young of Arlington resident who is chief of staff to state Sen. Sal DiDomenico, is the 2019 recipient of the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL) Legislative Staff Achievement Award.

Christie Getto YoungGetto Young

She was the first staff member from the Massachusetts Legislature to receive this award and was honored at the 2019 National Conference of State Legislature Summit in Nashville in August.

This national award is given annually by the NCSL Leadership Staff Professional Association and was created to recognize an individual who demonstrates excellence in support of the work of a state Legislature and strengthening of legislative institutions.

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Friedman backs health-care access, unions, child-marriage ban

Cindy FriedmanFriedman

Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) recently joined her colleagues in voting on legislation that would increase access to mental-health care for patients in Massachusetts and bring the state one step closer toward mental-health parity.

She also voted in favor of legislation that would end child marriage in the Commonwealth and voted against an amendment offered by the governor on a bill that protects a public unions’ ability to effectively represent all workers in labor agreements, a July 29 news release from her office says.

Keeping with the Senate’s commitment to increase and streamline access to health care, the Senate recently passed legislation spearheaded by Friedman that would ensure consumers have the best information available to meet their health needs. The legislation would require insurers’ provider network directories to be more transparent and include the most up-to-date list of participating doctors and specialists and their services.

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State budget worth waiting for: What's in it for Arlington

Cindy Friedman

UPDATED, July 28: The new state budget, passed three weeks after its legal deadline, has funds that Arlington's delegation finds worth touting.

In a joint news release, the three legislators provided local highlights for the $43.1 billion fiscal 2020 spending plan, which makes substantial investments in education, housing, mental health and substance-use disorder services, health care and local aid.

The budget projects a more than $476 million deposit into the “rainy-day” fund – bringing its balance to more than $3 billion, aiming to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.

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