The typical jovial Sine Die atmosphere of the Maryland General Assembly was subdued on Monday morning as legislators returned for the final day of the legislative session upon news of the passing of Maryland House Speaker Mike Busch (D-District 30A. Busch passed away on Sunday at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore after a short bout with pneumonia. He was 72.
First elected by the voters to the Maryland General Assembly in 1986 and then elected by his colleagues as Speaker of the House of Delegates in 2003, Busch’s sixteen year tenure as Speaker is the longest in Maryland’s history. Known for his commitment to the environment, to social justice, and to those most in need; Busch truly left an indelible mark on Maryland’s history.
A mentor and friend to many, Busch’s legacy lies not only in his policy successes but also in his mentorship of fellow lawmakers. Upon news of his passing, many of these lawmakers from throughout the State released statements expressing their condolences on his loss.
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (D-District 27)
“My heart is broken for Mike Busch’s family, the State of Maryland, and the Speaker’s extended family – elected officials and staff that he has been a mentor and coach to over his time in public service. Mike has been a friend for years, and has led the state to new heights of environmentalism and education, while ensuring that a new generation of leaders move our state forward. He was a true model of a State Delegate; he cared for every corner of the state, but never forgot about the people he was elected to represent. I will miss him as a friend and partner in state government and I join all the state in mourning his passing.”
Senator Pam Beidle (D-District 32)
“Please keep Speaker Busch’s family in your prayers. We mourn the passing of our Speaker and Coach. He was a truly wonderful friend and leader.”
Senator Sarah Elfreth (D-District 30)
“Today Maryland lost one of the greatest public servants we have. Our community lost a hero. I lost a friend, a mentor, and a coach. Speaker Mike Busch represented the best of us. His integrity, his character, and his grit will not soon be forgotten. He will live on in the millions of public school students who will receive the education they deserve, in the hundreds of thousands of Marylanders who now have access to healthcare, and in every time a Marylander wades into a cleaner Bay and an Annapolitan steps into Maryland Hall. He was bigger than a Delegate seat, he was bigger than the Speakership, because of his commitment to all of us. I wouldn’t be in the Senate if Mike Busch didn’t believe in me and I am a better person for having known him. It is my responsibility – it is everyone’s responsibility – to see that his legacy and his impact and his work continues. May God keep Cindy, Erin, and Megan close.”
Senator Brian Feldman (D-District 15)
“A very sad day and huge loss for the State of Maryland with the passing today of Speaker Mike Busch, elected Speaker the same year I got elected to the House of Delegates. He was a great Speaker, an outstanding leader and legislator, and a mentor and friend to so many of us. Mr. Speaker, you will be truly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Cindy, and his daughters Erin and Megan.”
Senator Bill Ferguson (D-District 46)
“God bless Speaker Michael Busch and his family. The Speaker’s life serves as a model of a life of purpose, meaning, and positive impact.”
Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings (R-District 7)
“Being Speaker of the House isn’t easy. It means managing 141 dedicated, smart and strong-willed individuals. It means finding compromise where compromise can’t be found. It means representing the entire state and ensuring every voice is heard. Mike Busch did all of these things and more. Having honed his leadership skills as an athletic coach, he was able to apply them to push Maryland forward. I had the honor of serving with him for 8 years while I was in the House of Delegates. We may not have agreed on every issue, but he always let my voice be heard. He was a consummate gentleman, a gracious friend, and above all, a dedicated family man. To me, he will always be Mr. Speaker. He leaves an indelible mark on a generation of legislators in Annapolis. My thoughts are with his wife Cindy, his daughters Erin and Megan, his staff, and all who knew and loved him. Rest in Peace Mr. Speaker.”
Senator Cheryl Kagan (D-District 17)
“Rest in Peace, Mr. Speaker. It was my honor to serve with you during my House tenure and collaborate when I returned to the Senate. Thank you for your service, your warmth, your vision, and your leadership.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Katherine Klausmeier (D-District 8)
“My thoughts and prayers are with the Busch Family at this difficult time after the passing of our Speaker, Michael Busch.”
Senator Jeff Waldstreicher (D-District 18)
“If you’ve ever received world-class care from a Maryland hospital, you knew Mike Busch. If you’re gay and married the person you love, you knew Mike Busch. If your son or daughter had an amazing public school teacher, you knew Mike Busch. If you savored a dozen briny oysters on date night, you knew Mike Busch. If you’re proud of living in a state that is fiscally prudent and socially responsible, you knew Mike Busch. In some way, shape, or fashion, Mike Busch touched your life. And that’s the true measure of the man.”
Senator Bobby Zirkin (D-District 11)
“Today, Maryland lost an incredible leader and one of the kindest public servants you would ever meet. Michael Busch cared deeply about our State and its people. He will be greatly missed.”
The work of the General Assembly concludes tonight at midnight. Delegates and Senators will go on with their work assuredly though with thoughts of Speaker Mike Busch in their minds both today and always.