How One State Managed to Actually Write Rules on Facial Recognition

New York Times

Feb 27, 2021

Though police have been using facial recognition technology for the last two decades to try to identify unknown people in their investigations, the practice of putting the majority of Americans into a perpetual photo lineup has gotten surprisingly little attention from lawmakers and regulators. Until now.

Lawmakers, civil liberties advocates and police chiefs have debated whether and how to use the technology because of concerns about both privacy and accuracy. But figuring out how to regulate it is tricky. So far, that has meant an all-or-nothing approach. City Councils in Oakland, Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis and elsewhere have banned police use of the technology, largely because of bias in how it works. Studies in recent years by MIT researchers and the federal government found that many facial recognition algorithms are most accurate for white men, but less so for everyone else. Read more...

Senate Program Would Help Our Local Restaurants & Address Food Insecurity

Needham Patch

Nov. 20, 2020

Here's something that would help a lot of people in our communities get through these next few terrifying months.

It's a program designed to address food insecurity while simultaneously helping struggling restaurants in Newton, Brookline and Wellesley.

The $175,000 initiative was proposed by state Sen. Majority Leader Cindy Creem and added to the budget approved by the state Senate late last night. Read more...

Creem: Early voting by mail is the best path forward

Wicked Local Newton

May 2, 2020

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy. No one should be forced to choose between their personal health and exercising this fundamental civil right. For this reason, during this uncertain time, it is vital that we adapt our election system to ensure that all eligible voters are able to submit their ballots without compromising their personal health and that of the community at large.

My bill, S.D. 2911, will protect our communities and the right to vote by allowing every eligible voter in Massachusetts the option to request a mail-in ballot during the state’s early voting period. If enacted, these mail-in ballots would be accepted by the town clerk up until polls close on Election Day this November. My bill also expands early voting opportunities to include the State’s primary election, while also maintaining the ability to vote in person at the polls with appropriate public health protocols.  Read more...

State Senate eyes return to formal sessions in June

Wicked Local Newton

May 2, 2020

BOSTON — With the House scrambling this week to put in place emergency rules for remote voting, Senate leaders say they have a short-term plan to pass a borrowing authorization bill filed by Gov. Charlie Baker, but will take their time putting together a more complete plan for formal sessions.


Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem will lead a bipartisan group of seven senators to craft a plan that would allow the Senate to begin holding formal sessions, with recorded roll call votes, by early June. Read more...

Baker: ‘We have the backs’ of those practicing faith

South Coast Today

Jan 7, 2020

BOSTON -- After the first bar mitzvah he attended as an adult, Gov. Charlie Baker was so enamored with the idea of parents making a speech or writing a letter detailing their aspirations for their child that he “stole it” from the Jewish faith and adapted it into a secular part of his own children’s 13th birthday celebrations.

“I think it’s incredibly important for us to remember that just because somebody takes a different path than you do in pursuit of their faith, their community development, whatever it might be, their identity, doesn’t mean it’s not in many ways common to yours,” Baker said Monday. “And I think it’s really important for folks like us to keep reminding people that differences, many times, are benefits.”  Read more...

Newton Officials Share Their New Year Resolutions For The City

Wicked Local Newton

Jan 2, 2020

NEWTON, MA — January is a time when many are thinking about their goals for the year ahead. Often resolutions center on getting healthier or dialing back on the indulgence that monopolizes the winter holiday season. But this is also a season when we look into professional goals and task ourselves with accomplishing something meaningful related to work. Patch reached out to local officials to get a sense of what their top goal was when it came to Newton or what they wanted to accomplish in the Garden City this new year.

Many of them couldn't pick just one. Here's a look at what they had to say:  Read more...

Brookline passes face surveillance ban

Wicked Local Brookline

Dec. 11, 2019

Brookline joined Somerville in banning the municipal use of face surveillance, following a Town Meeting vote Wednesday.

Article 25, a proposed bylaw prohibiting the municipal use of face surveillance, passed overwhelmingly in the fifth night of special Town Meeting, with a vote of 179-8.

Face surveillance is a concern for many people of color and immigrants, petitioner Amy Hummel told Town Meeting. It has also been used as a tool in many authoritarian governments and can lead to warrantless searches and invasions of privacy, she said.  Read more...

Brookline passes face surveillance ban

Wicked Local Brookline

Dec. 11, 2019

Brookline joined Somerville in banning the municipal use of face surveillance, following a Town Meeting vote Wednesday.

Article 25, a proposed bylaw prohibiting the municipal use of face surveillance, passed overwhelmingly in the fifth night of special Town Meeting, with a vote of 179-8.

Face surveillance is a concern for many people of color and immigrants, petitioner Amy Hummel told Town Meeting. It has also been used as a tool in many authoritarian governments and can lead to warrantless searches and invasions of privacy, she said.  Read more...

‘I want to know that our server understands:’ Sudbury boy’s near-death experience brings him to Massachusetts State House


Sept 26, 2019

Tripp Hollister spent Super Bowl Sunday in a Cambridge restaurant with his mom, dad and sister in 2018, awaiting the game between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.


Hollister’s parents notified the waiter of his peanut butter allergy, ordered their meals and ordered him a strawberry pop tart for dessert. The moment he took a bite, he forgot all about the kickoff.  Read more...

Cutting back on light pollution

Boston Globe

Sept 29, 2019

We are writing as state legislators to express our strong support for the dark sky principles expressed in Tony Rehagen’s recent op-ed “Losing the night sky” (Ideas, Sept. 22). Our bills (S1937/H2858) will help to restore much of night sky visibility to the 90 percent of people who now have little, if any, view of the stars and planets in our universe.  Read more...

Newton Democratic City Committee honors local women

Wicked Local Newton

Sept 25, 2019

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, recently joined the Newton Democratic City Committee to honor three women legislators with over 20 years of service: Sen. Cindy Creem, and Reps. Ruth B. Balser and Kay Khan.

Also attending were Massachusetts Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, and the former chair of the Democratic National Party Steve Grossman.  Read more...

Massachusetts Senate Unaimously Adopts Flame Retardant Bill

Framingham Source

Sept 20, 2019

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Senate has voted unanimously (38-0) to ban certain toxic chemical flame retardants from children’s products, including toys and nap mats, as well as in upholstered furniture, window dressings, carpeting, and bedding made or sold in the state.

Bill S2338, An Act to protect children, families, and firefighters from harmful flame retardants, introduced by Sen. Cindy Creem (D-Newton), establishes an initial list of 11 chemical flame retardants that would be banned.  Read more...

There’s too much artificial light at night to see stars. That’s a problem

Boston Globe

Sept 20, 2019

TWENTY YEARS AGO, I fell in love with a city girl. We were both students at the University of Missouri. She was from Des Moines, population 200,000. I was from St. Elizabeth, Mo., a rural town of 300. She told me about growing up downtown; I regaled her with tales of driving gravel roads at night, and looking at the stars.  Read More...

Somerville Bans Government Use Of Facial Recognition Tech


June 28, 2019

With a city council vote on Thursday night, Somerville became the first community on the East Coast to ban government use of face surveillance technology.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, which wants a statewide moratorium on government use of facial recognition technology, cheered the ban, which mirrors one in place in San FranciscoRead more...

Poll: Voters Want Checks On Face Recognition Technology


June 18, 2019

Nearly eight in 10 Massachusetts voters would support a moratorium on government use of face recognition surveillance, according to poll results released Tuesday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts released the findings to launch its new "Press Pause on Face Surveillance" campaign, which supports a moratorium and aims to build public awareness about civil rights concerns associated with face recognition technology.

"Face and other biometric surveillance technologies give the government unprecedented power to track who we are, where we go, what we do and who we know," Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, said on a conference call with reporters. "Face surveillance threatens to create a world in which all of us are tracked and identified as we go about our daily lives, whether that means attending a political rally or meeting with our friends, congregating at houses of worship or seeking medical care." Read more...

Parents, doctors, and students urge tighter food allergy safety laws in Mass. schools

Boston Globe

June 4, 2019

Roughly 7 percent of Massachusetts students have a food allergy, yet not all schools stock epinephrine to treat a severe reaction, or train staff to deal with such emergencies.

With the prevalence of the food allergies shooting up at least 50 percent since the late 1990s, doctors, students, and their parents on Monday urged state lawmakers to support legislation addressing these gaps.

“Each day . . . I leave my son in his school’s hands,” said Dr. Christine Olsen, a radiation oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital whose seven-year-old son, Zeke, has severe food allergies. “The fact that he can have a life-threatening event to something as simple as a cracker or breaded chicken is horrifying to me as a mother.”  Read more...

The only way to break the pattern of mass shootings

Boston Globe

June 4, 2019

Another dozen dead in a mass shooting — this time in Virginia Beach — and by now everyone knows the drill. Begin with praising the bravery of the first responders, who should never have to respond to such horrific crimes in the first place. Mourn the victims, the latest lives cut short by America’s raging gun violence epidemic. Cue the chorus of politicians issuing their thoughts, prayers, and excuses.

Then, of course, come the newspaper editorials calling for stricter gun controls. Read more...

Lawmakers restart flame retardant bill debate

Gloucester Daily Times

May 8, 2019

BOSTON — Four months after a bill restricting chemical flame retardants died on Gov. Charlie Baker's desk, its proponents are again making their health-related case to lawmakers as industry representatives continue to voice concerns.

"We hope this bill comes out early, really early, so we all have an opportunity to stand tall, and if we need to, override any vetoes," Sen. Cynthia Creem told the Public Health Committee on Tuesday. Read more...

Criminal justice reform must focus on women who are incarcerated

Boston Globe

May 7, 2019

Women in our prisons and jails are much more than just inmates: Many are mothers, caregivers, and survivors of trauma, with complex and diverse needs. No doubt they have made mistakes — and they are paying a heavy price for them — but they’re also working to rebuild their lives, return to their families, and plan for their futures.

Unfortunately, our system is ill equipped to help them achieve those goals. The state has a dearth of community-based residential reentry services for women as they make the often difficult transition from incarceration back into the community.  Read more...

Some Newton officials advocate for 10-cent paper bag fee

Newton Tab

April 26, 2019

Now that a ban on polystyrene containers was unanimously passed by the City Council in April and will go into effect in January 2020, local and state officials are targeting additional materials that can harm the environment.

Councilor-at-Large Alison Leary said she will soon be canvassing local businesses about requiring a 10-cent fee per paper bag at all city stores.  Read more...

Bills banning handheld cellphone use by drivers start moving

CommonWealth Magazine

April 9, 2019

THE LEGISLATURE TOOK another step Tuesday towards advancing a bill that would crack down on handheld cellphone use by drivers.

In a poll set to end Wednesday afternoon, members of the Transportation Committee have been asked to weigh in on two similar proposals filed by members of the House and Senate that would basically bar motorists from using their phones to talk or peruse social media while behind the wheel.  Read more...

Should the state increase Registry of Deeds recording fees to boost revenues for the Community Preservation Act?

Boston Globe

March 14, 2019

The Community Preservation Act is now in effect in 175 Massachusetts communities where voters have chosen to add a small surcharge — up to 3 percent — to their local property tax to fund projects that improve the quality of life in their hometowns. I am the lead Senate sponsor of a bill to ensure the state continues to keep its CPA promise and provide meaningful matching funds for this invaluable program.  Read more...

Steps to address light pollution to be considered by Mass. Legislature

Boston Globe

March 8, 2019

Massachusetts lawmakers will consider changes to state law that would help combat light pollution and increase dark-sky visibility in the Bay State.

It’s not the first time the Legislature has weighed measures to combat light pollution. In fact, a similar bill failed to move forward on Beacon Hill last year, but dark-sky advocates are hopeful that 2019 — with a revised, bipartisan bill — will be different. Read more...

EDITORIAL: Flame retardant ban should have become law

Daily News

January 18, 2019

A bill intended to protect children and firefighters from carcinogens found in flame-retardant chemicals used in kids clothing, upholstered furniture and other items had broad support in Massachusetts when it passed the House and Senate and landed on Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk for his signature.

The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Newton Sen. Cynthia Creem, co-sponsored by then-Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, and backed by consumer groups, environmentalists, the 12,000-member Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts and state Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey, would have banned 11 chemicals created to slow or prevent ignition of synthetic materials.  Read more...

Baker facing pressure on flame retardant bill

Commonwealth Magazine

January 9, 2019

OV. CHARLIE BAKER is facing mounting pressure to sign a bill that would ban the use of certain toxic flame retardant chemicals in many products as industry groups lobby hard for the Republican to veto the bill.

Sen. Cynthia Creem and Rep. Marjorie Decker brought together environmental advocates and firefighters on Tuesday to press publicly for the governor to sign the bill, which would ban the use of 11 flame retardant chemicals in children’s products, household furniture and bedding.  Read more...

Sen. Creem, D-Newton, looks ahead to 2019 goals

Newton Tab

January 3, 2019

As state Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem marks her 20th year serving in the state Senate, she has numerous plans for 2019.

The Newton Democrat, who also represents parts of Brookline and Wellesley, was named majority leader in February 2018. The decision on who will be majority leader in 2019 has yet to be announced.

When advocacy group Progressive Massachusetts gave her an “A-” on its legislative scorecard last year, Creem said, “I was really thrilled.”  Read more...

Dem-controlled House would push gun legislation, Markey says

Gloucester Daily Times

November  2, 2018

BOSTON — As U.S. Sen. Ed Markey prepares to work with what he expects to be a Democrat-controlled Congress to push a Massachusetts model of gun legislation, policymakers within the state will also be looking for what more can be done to prevent shooting deaths and injuries here.

A Malden Democrat who in March filed legislation that would financially incentivize states to require their local police chiefs to sign off on gun license applications, Markey on Thursday said he thinks his party is "about to take over" the U.S. House of Representatives and "come very close in the Senate." Republicans currently hold majorities in both branches.  Read more...

Emerging Adults Task Force names Sen. Creem co-chair

Wicked Local Newton

October 4, 2018

Majority Leader Sen. Creem has been appointed by Senate President Spilka as one of two co-chairs of the Task Force on Emerging Adults in the Criminal Justice System to examine and study the treatment of individuals ages 18-24 in the court and corrections systems and the impacts of the treatment on those emerging adults. This task force was established pursuant to Section 221 of Chapter 69 or the Acts of 2018.


“Criminal Justice Reform, especially Juvenile Justice, has been one of my top legislative priorities for many years and I am pleased to be appointed as one of the co-chairs of this Task Force to explore these important issues,” said Creem. “Our young adults deserve a justice system that understands and responds to their unique needs.”  Read more...

MA Senate Passes Bill To Ban Toxic Flame Retardants

Beacon Hill Patch

June 22, 2018

From MA State Senate: The Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously on June 21 to ban 11 toxic flame retardants from children's products, bedding and residential upholstered furniture sold or manufactured in the Commonwealth. Public health advocates hailed the vote as an important legislative victory and called upon the House to pass the bill before the end of the Massachusetts Legislative session.

Senator Cynthia Stone Creem (D-Newton) and 32 co-sponsors filed S.2555 An act to protect children and firefighters from harmful flame retardants. A similar bill, H.1245, has been filed in the House by Representative Marjorie Decker (D-Cambridge).   Read more...

Massachusetts Senate passes 'red flag' gun bill


June 7, 2018

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday passed a bill on a voice vote creating a method for a family member to have someone's guns taken away if the person poses a danger to themselves or others.


Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, D-Newton, who sponsored a version of the bill, said it is "heartbreaking" to consider these policies, but necessary because of the fear children face from gun violence today.

"We did not imagine when we went to school that an unstable person with access to weapons would change the course of our lives forever," Creem said.  Read more...

Senate passes ‘extreme risk’ gun bill


June 7, 2018

BOTH BRANCHES OF THE MASSACHUSETTS LEGISLATURE have now signed off on bills that would create a new judicial process designed to temporarily take guns away from dangerous individuals.

The bill (H 4539), which the Senate approved on a voice vote Thursday, would allow family or household members to petition the courts for an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) in cases where someone poses a threat to themselves or others.

The judge’s order would suspend someone’s license to carry firearms and require that individual to temporarily surrender “firearms, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, weapons or ammunition.” Under the Senate’s bill, police would also provide information about mental health, crisis intervention and counseling services to both the person who requested the order and the subject of it. Read more...

Massachusetts Senate votes to require schools to publish meal debt policies


May 23, 2018

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to require school districts to publish policies on how they deal with school meal debt.

Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, D-Newton, who sponsored the state budget amendment, called its passage "the beginning ... of the end of the practice of lunch shaming," according to the State House News Service.  Read more...

Net neutrality in Massachusetts: State Senate committee recommends state-level rules


March 26, 2018

A state Senate committee is recommending that Massachusetts implement a state-level net neutrality policy, in response to the federal government rolling back federal net neutrality rules.


The Senate report also recommends that Massachusetts do a better job ensuring consumers' privacy while using the internet.


"We must fill in the gap left by the federal government in the areas of net neutrality and consumers' broadband privacy," said Sen. Cynthia Creem, D-Newton, chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Net Neutrality and Consumer Protection.  Read more...

House And Senate Lawmakers Unveil Compromise Criminal Justice Reform Bill


March 23, 2018

House and Senate lawmakers released a sweeping, compromise criminal justice bill on Friday, marking the end to months of negotiations over a piece of legislation that eliminates some mandatory sentences for drug offenses, reforms the way juveniles are treated by the court system, and cracks down on the trafficking of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl.

Rep. Claire Cronin, the House chair of Judiciary Committee and the branch's lead negotiator, said that the bill broadly aims to reduce recidivism, enhance public safety and save money for taxpayers by diverting people that would otherwise be sent to prison to treatment and other programs. Read more...

Massachusetts Senate passes bill strengthening campus sexual assault policies


November 2, 2017

BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a bill aimed at making it easier for students to report sexual assault on campus.

The bill comes at a time of renewed focus on sexual violence nationally, after accusations were leveled at several famous figures, including movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Advocates for the bill say sexual assault on campus has long been a problem. Read more...