The longtime Speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, Democrat Michael Busch, died Sunday at the age of 72. His chief of staff, Alex Hughes, announced that Speaker Busch passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones.
Speaker Busch, Maryland’s longest-serving Speaker of the House, was elected to the speakership in 2003, and has pushed legislation to protect the Bay ever since.
The oyster sanctuary bill he sponsored this legislative session passed both the House and Senate, but Governor Larry Hogan vetoed it. The House overrode the veto, and the Senate narrowly voted to override it on Monday, the last day of the 2019 legislative session.
Read more about the bill’s fight in Annapolis here.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) praised Busch’s legacy as a defender of the Bay:
“The Chesapeake Bay lost a champion today,” said Alison Prost, Maryland Executive Director of CBF. “While there were many issues that were near and dear to Speaker Busch, he elevated saving the Bay to a priority for the General Assembly, and legislators followed his lead.”
Busch had announced last week he had pneumonia and might miss the rest of the session. He had recently undergone a procedure related to his 2017 liver transplant. Word came Sunday that his condition had worsened and he was placed on a ventilator. He passed at 3:22 in the afternoon.
Governor Larry Hogan called it “a profoundly sad day for Maryland,” and ordered Maryland flags be flown at half-staff.
Governor Hogan tweeted of Busch, “He cared deeply about improving the lives of Marylanders, and his legacy is evident in his many legislative achievements….He was raised in Annapolis, he represented Annapolis, and he will forever be remembered here.”
Speaker Busch leaves behind his wife Cindy, daughters Erin and Megan, and his sisters Gail Burkhead, Laurie Bernhardt, and Susan Evans.
-Meg Walburn Viviano