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Government & Politics

Several High-Profile Bills Among Measures Signed by Governor

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) punctuated what he called “the most successful and bipartisan session since I became governor” by signing several dozen bills into law Tuesday.

One of the measures signed by Hogan and the legislature’s presiding officers seeks to bolster the delivery of mental-health services by requiring a call center to check in periodically with people who have opted into the 2-1-1 program and then offer to connect them with a mental health provider.

The measure was named for Thomas Bloom Raskin, the late son of U.S. Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) who took his own life on New Year’s Eve.

Hogan slipped the pen he used to sign the bill into his pocket, telling Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), seated alongside him, that he intended to give the pen to the congressman personally.

Among the other measures signed into law on Tuesday:

  • Senate Bill 14, The Walter Lomax Act, named for a man who spent nearly four decades in prison for a murder he did not commit. The measure establishes a formula for compensating people who are erroneously convicted of a crime. Lomax suffered a heart attack in the Senate office building after testifying on a similar bill in 2020. Ferguson recalled how he visited Lomax in the hospital. “He was semi-lucid, but he did say, ‘please try to get that bill done.’”
  • A measure to replenish the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund.
  • A bill to treat broadband like a utility. It commits $300 million to expand broadband service to communities that lack quality internet access.
  • Legislation to preserve expanded access to telehealth services, which the state broadened last year to help residents cope with the pandemic.
  • A measure to reform the Maryland Environmental Service, a quasi-governmental agency that was the focus of allegation of inappropriate reimbursement of a former executive director last year.
  • A bill to create a referendum allowing voters to decide whether to rename the state’s highest courts. The Court of Appeals would become the Supreme Court of Maryland. The Court of Special Appeals would be renamed the Appellate Court of Maryland.

“I believe this session is one that every Marylander can be proud of,” Jones said. “It will go down as one of the most consequential sessions of the last 20 years.”

Added Hogan: ”I think we are all sending a strong and clear message that — while we may have disagreements on certain issues — we can work together in a bipartisan way for the people of Maryland.”

Editor’s Note: This story was corrected to reflect that Walter Lomax has not died. He testified in favor of Senate Bill 14 this legislative session.

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Several High-Profile Bills Among Measures Signed by Governor