Gov. Wes Moore signed more than 100 bills into law in the latest round of signing ceremonies since the end of the Maryland General Assembly session on April 10.
Among the bills getting Moore’s signature was the SERVE Act, which creates a year of service open to high school graduates and those with a GED.
The bill was a centerpiece of Moore’s legislative efforts, and he explained it as a way to introduce young people to potential careers as well as service.
Addressing those the act is directed to, Moore said, “You can serve in conservation, you can serve in education, you can serve in housing … it is completely your choice.”
Moore singled out a Deputy Legislative Officer in his office for special recognition, describing her nearly three decades in education and government as an example of the kind of dedication to public service he’s hoping to generate, before revealing he was talking about Melissa Ross.
After ticking off the list of positions she held, he said, “She now realizes I’m talking about her, doesn’t she?” as the crowded Governor’s Reception room in the Maryland State House burst into applause.
Other bills include the state’s $63 billion budget package. Senate President Bill Ferguson pointed out that the bill included funding to fight crime.
“We’ve spent $121 million in state aid for local police departments, we spent $107.5 million for the Maryland State Police criminal investigation unit,” and, he said, $82 million would go to assistance for victims of crimes grants.
Ferguson also pointed out the education spending in the state’s budget. He said the $8.7 billion on pre-K through 12 spending, an increase of just over 9%, “will set our state up for success”.
Legislation that abolished the Maryland 529 Board and overhauled the state’s college savings programs was also signed into law.
Once the law goes into effect June 1, administration of the savings plans will fall under the authority of State Treasurer Dereck Davis. The push for reform came after accounting errors and reports from parents who were unable to access their funds to pay their children’s tuition.
During the bill signing ceremony, House Speaker Adrienne Jones noted that former Speaker of the House, Casper Taylor, had died. Taylor, a Democrat from Allegany County, served in the House of Delegates from 1975 to 2003 and as House Speaker from 1994 to 2003.
Jones said “Cas was a friend, and a mentor,” adding “when anyone mentions ‘One Maryland’, it’s because of Speaker Taylor. ”
She said Taylor “will be sorely missed.”
Jones mentioned a number of bills designed to “create a pipeline for young Marylanders to get involved in state government” to fill vacancies, including a bill with student loan repayment assistance for some state positions.
“I love public service,” said Jones, noting, “it may sound corny, but I do.”