Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) signed 195 bills into law Thursday, including measures aimed at restructuring the University of Maryland Medical System board, toughening penalties on cyberbullying and establishing a commission to research racially motivated lynchings in Maryland.
Hogan said the package of bills included many the late House speaker Michael E. Busch “would have been proud of.”
Busch, who died on April 7, a day before the close of the legislative session, sponsored the bill that makes sweeping changes to the scandal-plagued UMMS board. Hogan also signed a bill Busch sponsored to designate June 28 as Freedom of the Press Day, in honor of the five victims who died in the Capital Gazette shooting.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said the “legacy of Mike Busch lingers on” with the signing of the UMMS legislation. He also thanked Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) for sponsoring an initial reform bill that ultimately uncovered “self-dealing” by board members.
The bill signing was the first since the General Assembly adjourned on April 8. The post-session ceremony would normally take place the morning after adjournment, but the governor postponed the bill signing out of respect for Busch.
House Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), who presided over the House in Busch’s absence during the session, sat in his place at the bill signing table on Thursday.
The bill to toughen penalties on cyberbullying and to create the “Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission” are believed to be among the first of their kinds in the nation.
The cyberbullying bill makes cyberbullying with the intent to induce a minor to commit suicide a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The bill is named for Grace McComas, a 15-year-old from Howard County who committed suicide in 2012.
Among the other bills signed into law was a measure to increase the penalties on hate crimes and several legislative proposals from Hogan, including a bill that classifies human trafficking as a violent crime and another that increases the penalties for someone who is convicted of a drunken- or drugged-driving offense at least three times.