The Senate Lost A Friend in Bipartisanship

By State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine

As I’ve said many times before, good government puts people ahead of politics. Elected representatives are not in office to serve a political party, but everyone. I’m proud of the fact that my office operates without regard to party affiliation and, of the more than 50 bills I sponsored that passed the Senate this year, all but a handful passed unanimously and not one passed along party lines.

This past week, our New York State Senate lost a Senator who shared this mission and though from opposite sides of the political aisle, had become a friend and trusted colleague. I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sen. Thomas Morahan. He was a man who truly understood that the people we represent come before politics.

Tom lost a six month battle with leukemia that kept him out of the chamber for much of the last few months. He is perhaps best known across the state for being the champion of Timothy’s Law mandating mental health insurance parity in New York State, but it was his good humor and his ability to make friends across party lines that I will remember most.

In January of this year, Tom was one of two minority Senators who took over chairmanship of a committee—the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Committee. This was done to foster a better relationship between the two sides of the chamber. As Tom took one of the chairmanships for this reason, so I also gave up the chairmanship of the second committee, the Energy & Telecommunications Committee for the same reason.

Perhaps the time I worked closest with Tom was in the lead up to passing the historic Green Jobs/Green New York legislation I sponsored last year. This legislation took untapped revenue from the sale of carbon emission credits and applied it to a program that will give opportunities for homeowners and businesses to reduce their energy bills and create thousands of new jobs across the state.

Tom recognized the value of this program and fought back within his conference against some last minute rhetoric that attempted to make this legislation a partisan wedge issue through misinformation. I worked with him to secure the votes we needed to set this program in motion at no cost to the taxpayers of this state. In return, it will save ratepayers on their electric and gas bills, all while creating new jobs.

I will miss Tom and I offer my deepest condolences to his family. In his honor and in continuation of what brought us together, I will continue working in the Senate without regard to political affiliations and in the best interests of the people I represent. This is why Tom and I became friends and this is why we serve in government.