Politics: constituent services
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.
The state House of Representatives has unanimously passed its spending proposal using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and fiscal 2021 surplus funds. Funded at $3.82 billion, the bill addresses disparities exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, aiming to facilitate recovery through one-time investments in housing, environment and climate mitigation, economic development, workforce, health and human services, and education.
Reps. Sean Garballey (D- Arlington/West Medford) and David Rogers (D-Cambridge), representing Arlington, Belmont and Cambridge, supported the Oct. 29 vote and reported Nov. 5 about these impacts on Arlington:
- $250,000 for the construction, upgrades and improvements to Arlington’s playgrounds;
- $100,000 for the Arlington Housing Authority’s domestic-violence initiative; and
- $200,000 for the Mill Brook climate-resilience initiative.
State Rep. Sean Garballey, Democrat of Arlington, has received an environmental award from SEBANE, the Solar Energy Business Association of New England.
The “Solar Champion of the Year - State Level” Award was presented to Garballey and Rep. Marjorie Decker, Democrat of Cambridge, to advance solar energy throughout the Commonwealth.
“It is an incredible honor to be given this award,” he said in an Oct. 21 news release. “Massachusetts must lead the country in advancing the solar industry. I am proud to be working on passing comprehensive and forward-thinking climate legislation.”
Arlington's Beacon Hill delegation joined their colleagues in the Legislature in passing a $261.6 million supplemental budget for fiscal 2021.
On Wednesday, July 21, Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) supported the measure addressing time-sensitive deficiencies, extends expanded voting options, provides supports for the implementation of the 2020 landmark police-reform law and makes investments to support the Commonwealth’s continued recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aiming to pave the way to an equitable recovery, the supplemental budget includes $191 million to provide support and stability for an early educator workforce, $27.9 million for one-time economic relief payments to families on transitional assistance and $12.5 million for costs associated with implementing last session’s landmark police-reform bill.
Arlington's Beacon Hill delegation reports passage of a $350 million transportation bill, which includes $784,626 of the $200 million in Chapter 90 funding for town projects for road, bridges, sidewalks and bikeways.
On Thursday, July 15, 2021, Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) joined those in the state Legislature in passing the measure. The bill, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges, authorizes $200 million for municipal roads and bridges through the Chapter 90 program and $150 million to support statewide projects to address congestion, support electric vehicle infrastructure, prioritize bus infrastructure and improve public transit.
UPDATED, July 17: Arlington's Beacon Hill delegation reports approval of the fiscal 2022 state budget, noting these local priorities that they helped secure:
- $175,000 for the Arlington Youth Counseling Center;
- $100,000 for Food Link Inc. to address food insecurity in Arlington and surrounding communities;
- $100,000 to the Arlington playground initiative;
- $75,000 for the Arlington Historical Society for maintenance, refurbishing and replacing critical assets at the Jason Russell House and the Smith Museum;
- $50,000 for the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum;
The Arlington legislative delegation joined its colleagues in the state Legislature to override Gov. Baker’s veto of language requiring a project-labor agreement from the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home bill financing the construction of the new home.
Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) added their votes to the override.
In May, Baker signed the bulk of a bill authorizing $400 million in bonds for the design and construction of a new soldiers’ home facility in Holyoke and $200 million in bonds to increase geographic equity and accessibility related to the continuum of long-term care services for veterans across the state, but struck a provision requiring the home to be built with a project labor agreement, under which nonunion workers would have to affiliate with construction unions to have a chance to work on the new facility
Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington and West Medford) is among the sponsors of the “Cherish Act,” which aims to implement the core findings of the state Higher Education Finance Commission – that state investment in public colleges and universities has dramatically declined from a peak in fiscal 2001.
So far, 83 state representatives and 29 state senators have endorsed the legislation.
With declining public investment in state colleges and universities, costs have shifted to students, as campuses are more easily subject to privatization, staff cuts and elimination of programs that support students, a June 29 news release from Garballey's office says.
State Sen. Jo Comerford (D-Northampton) is the lead sponsor of the bill in the Senate, while Garballey and Rep. Paul Mark (D-Peru) are the lead sponsors in the House.
Proposed constitutional amendment would fund transportation, education
The Arlington legislative delegation joined its colleagues at a joint session of the state Legislature to provide greater investments in education and transportation funding.
Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Rep. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and Rep. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) voted in a Constitutional Convention to advance the "fair share" amendment to the state Constitution.
The amendment goes to voters for a statewide vote in 2022,. It establishes a 4-percent tax on annual taxable income in excess of $1 million. The revenue generated, estimated by the Department of Revenue to be as much as $2.2 billion annually, would pay for repair and maintenance projects for roads, bridges or public transportation as well as funding for public education, including support for early education and child care and public higher education.
Includes increased investments to support an equitable recovery, safeguard health
State Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) joined her colleagues in unanimously passing the $47.7 billion fiscal 2022 Senate budget on May 27. Local investments include:
- $14,741,108 in Chapter 70 funds and $8,338,017 in Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) for Arlington school districts;
- $175,000 for the Arlington Youth Counseling Center (AYCC) to provide much-needed services to support the social and emotional wellbeing of all Arlington’s youth and families; and
- $100,000 for Food Link Inc. to address food insecurity in Arlington and surrounding communities.
The Senate added $63.7 million in targeted investments over the course of three days of deliberations. Approved with unanimous bipartisan support, the budget maintains fiscal responsibility and recommends targeted investments to address emerging needs, safeguard the health and wellness of the most vulnerable populations and ensure residents will benefit equitably as the state recovers from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gov. Charlie Baker has signed legislation allowing businesses to avoid steep spikes in unemployment insurance taxes this spring and summer by spreading the cost over the next 20 years, but the administration and lawmakers still face pressure to use federal relief funds to remove some of that burden from employers, the State House News Service reported.
The Arlington State House delegation joined their colleagues and gave final approval to a bill to guarantee Covid emergency paid leave to workers, as well as avoid drastic increases in unemployment-insurance rates paid by employers.
On May 20, Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Reps. Sean Garballey (D-Arlington) and (D-Cambridge), voted with the majority on the measure. Gov. Baker had returned the bill with an amendment. He signed the bill May 25.
Reps. Sean Garballey and Dave Rogers joined their State House colleagues to pass its fiscal 2022 budget, funded at $47.716 billion. Here are some Arlington programs that benefit:
The town received Chapter 70 funds totaling $14,741,108, and $8,338,017 in unrestricted general-government aid.
The Arlington House delegation secured several investments for local programs and services, which include $75,000 for the Arlington Historical Society, for maintenance, refurbishing and replacement of critical assets at the Jason Russell House and the Smith Museum; $100,000 for the Arlington playground initiative; $15,000 for the Arlington community orchard; $25,000 for the Children’s Room, and $50,000 for the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum.
Priority for small-business relief, support for workers, housing development
The Arlington legislative delegation joined its colleagues in passing legislation that aims to provide economic recovery and development to provide much-needed support to businesses and create jobs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Voting to back the measure for $627 million in funding bill were Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Reps. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) and Sean Garballey (D-Arlington).
The bill was signed into law Jan. 14. An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth aims to ensure state residents a Covid-19 relief and recovery package to provide support to the restaurant and tourism sectors, small businesses and those affected by the pandemic, while also creating a Future of Work Commission, establishing protections for student loan borrowers and ushering in zoning reforms that will encourage housing development in our communities.
Measure seeks jobs, reduced emissions, environmental justice
The Arlington legislative delegation joined its colleagues in passing legislation that overhauls the state’s climate laws, aims to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, hopes to create clean-energy jobs and strives to promote environmental justice in communities.
Voting to back the measure were Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Reps. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) and Sean Garballey (D-Arlington).
Mandates telehealth coverage, provides financial assistance to hospitals and increases protections against surprise medical billing
Just before Christmas, the town delegation joined their colleagues in the Legislature to pass a number of notable health-care reforms.
The measures expand patient access to care by lifting barriers to receiving telehealth services, broadens the scope of practice for certain health-care professionals, requires advance notice of a provider’s network status in order to avoid surprise medical bills and improves coverage for Covid-19 testing and treatment amid the most serious public health crisis in modern history.
Approving An Act promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first on Dec. 23, were Sen. Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington), Reps. Dave Rogers (D-Cambridge) and Sean Garballey (D-Arlington).
FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below