Tuesday on Beacon Hill, the Massachusetts House bid farewell to 18 lawmakers who are leaving office at the end of the year. Among them: two veteran legislators from western Massachusetts.
Democrat John Scibak of South Hadley is leaving after 16 years. He looked back at major legislation passed during his tenure, including same-sex marriage, paid leave and health care reform.
"Whether you want to call it Romneycare, the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, it started here," Scibak said. "We made the difference. We set the state for this country."
Scibak also reflected on what caused him to run for office in the first place. He said the September 11 attacks were one reason.
"9/11 demonstrated to me that life is fragile, that we don't know what's going to happen," Scibak said. "I had an opportunity to do this, and if I lost, well, I tried. If I won and I liked it, maybe I'd come back."
And Steve Kulik, a Democrat from Worthington who has spent 25 years in office, remembered colleagues Gail Cariddi of North Adams and Peter Kocot of Northampton who died during the current session.
"They were strong advocates for their districts and for all small communities," Kulik said. "They are deeply missed by their constituents and all of us."
Amherst representative Solomon Goldstein-Rose, who served a single term, did not give a farewell speech.