ANNAPOLIS – Maryland’s Speaker of the House of Delegates, Michael Busch, died on April 7. He was 72-years-old.
Busch, who is the longest-serving House of Delegates speaker in Maryland passed away while receiving treatment for pneumonia. He laid in state at the Maryland State House on April 15 and mourners were able to pay their respects by visiting his casket which was on display for most of the day.
Before serving in the House of Delegates, Busch taught history at St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis.
“During his tenure, he would often mentor young legislators,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy. “He was so committed to mentoring colleagues that he was affectionately nicknamed ‘coach.’”
Busch leaves behind a progressive legacy of governmental work like pushing for same-sex marriage, ending the death penalty and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Gun control was an important issue to Busch. In 2018, he was instrumental in passing laws that would ban bump stocks in Maryland and implement a “red flag” law which gives a judge the authority to temporarily remove guns from gun owners who are deemed a threat to themselves or others.
According to the delegate’s website, Busch also advocated for banning guns on college campuses “to keep our students safe and ensure protection in our local community.” He cited his concern and love for his two college-age daughters as part of his motivation for pushing for common sense gun control.
Busch was elected to the Maryland State House in 1987 and selected unanimously by his Democratic and Republican peers to the position of House Speaker in 2003.
“@SpeakerBusch and I came from different sides of the aisle, but we often came together in the best interests of the people of Maryland,” Gov. Larry Hogan said in a tweet message following Busch’s death. “He served with the decency and good nature of a teacher, a coach and a family man. I was honored to know him and to work closely with him.”
Healthcare was also an issue Busch cared deeply about. During his time as a committee chairman, he pushed against privatizing health insurance in Maryland.
“Maryland has made tremendous improvements to our health care system overall,” he wrote on his website. Busch also praised the support the Affordable Care Act provides to Marylanders.
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Nancy Navarro also noted his accomplishments and praised his demeanor in a joint statement.
“Speaker Busch was a man of high integrity, and he led the House of Delegates accordingly. Through his leadership, many more Marylanders have access to affordable health care and a quality public education system,” they said.
Busch was also aware of the presence of the opioid epidemic in Maryland. During his tenure, he worked at a county level in Anne Arundel and at a state level to combat the crisis.
“We have all witnessed the devastating effects that prescription drugs and heroin have had on our community,” He said, “we must act now to solve this deadly issue.”
Busch wanted to promote awareness of the epidemic and was supportive of county initiatives like the Heroin Action Plan and the Not My Child Program which are designed to elevate conversations and raise awareness.
Another issue that caught Busch’s interest was that of education.
He pushed for school funding and more support for teachers. He also worked to make higher education more financially accessible for Marylanders, through his college affordability program. He also froze tuition rates at public universities to combat the rising cost of attending.
“Having two daughters of my own, I understand the importance of higher education,” he said. “It’s simple: well-educated students become the well-educated workforce of the future, the innovators, entrepreneurs and business leaders of Maryland’s future economy.”
In his final years, his health started to decline. Busch had problems with his liver and lost a lot of weight. But despite the health issues, Busch continued to work as best he could.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve my hometown of Annapolis as a delegate,” Busch said. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished for Maryland over the past term. Together, we provided earned sick leave to over 700,000 Marylanders, passed historic gun safety laws and mitigated effects of the disastrous federal tax plan. There is still more work to be done.”
Busch leaves behind his two daughters and his wife Cindy. He will be laid to rest in Annapolis.