Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (seated, center) poses for pictures with supporters of a bill requiring any new construction or renovation projects to incorporate assisted listening systems during a bill-signing ceremony in Annapolis on April 30. Del. Kris Valderrama, standing behind the governor, sponsored the bill. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (seated, center) poses for pictures with supporters of a bill requiring any new construction or renovation projects to incorporate assisted listening systems during a bill-signing ceremony in Annapolis on April 30. Del. Kris Valderrama, standing behind the governor, sponsored the bill. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed Tuesday a second package of bills into law that focus on transparency, hard-of-hearing residents and workplace harassment.

Among the 174 bills is legislation to expand the University System of Maryland’s Board of Regents to four members, livestream its meetings and permit public comment.

The change comes after the board received criticism last year when University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair died after collapsing at football practice. The board chose to keep former head coach DJ Durkin on staff, but he was later fired by University President Wallace Loh.

Veronica Davila of Oxon Hill joined other supporters for legislation that requires new construction or renovation of an “assembly area” or public place to incorporate an assisted listening system. Those locations would include concert halls, courtrooms and auditoriums.

It would be an audio or hearing loop system wired to a sound system that would connect to a person’s listening device such as a hearing aid and cochlear implant.

“This is huge, “said Davila, president of the Prince George’s County chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America. “We have challenges every day just trying to keep active and participate in our community.”

Davila said the future goal will go toward educating the faith-based community on various technology, closed-captioning on screens and use of listening devices people can place around their neck called “loops.”

Del. Kris Valderrama (D-District 26) of Fort Washington sponsored the legislation.

“I actually appreciate it that much more … when constituents take the time and come to me with an issue,” she said. “A lot of people have a misconception that we as legislators create these ideas on our own and it’s all about us. It was just plain and simple to give them the benefit to participate.”

Other legislation signed into law:

• Proclaim August as Caribbean Heritage Month.
• Devote at least one day during Black History Month to Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass.
• Prohibit access on state property to individuals accused of sexual harassment.
• Expand workers’ compensation for firefighters and emergency personnel. Bill honors Prince George’s fighter Jesse McCullough, who died in October after a battle with metastatic colon cancer related to his occupation.

The next scheduled bill-signing ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. May 13.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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