Maryland House speaker Michael Busch has died at 72

Maryland House speaker Michael Busch has died, according to the Governor's office.

Alexandra Hughes, the speaker's chief of staff, said Busch died Sunday, surrounded by loved ones.

Gov. Larry Hogan has issued an order saying Maryland flags will fly at half-staff in honor of the Speaker.

In a statement, Hogan said:

"This is a profoundly sad day for Maryland. Mike Busch was a giant in our government--the longest serving Speaker in our state's history. He cared deeply about improving the lives of Marylanders, and his legacy is evident in his many legislative achievements.

"Speaker Busch and I came from different sides of the aisle, but we often came together in the best interests of the people of Maryland. 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.

"On behalf of all Marylanders, the First Lady and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Speaker's wife, Cindy, their daughters, Erin and Megan, and all of his colleagues. He was raised in Annapolis, he represented Annapolis, and he will forever be remembered here."

Busch, a progressive Democrat, had developed pneumonia after a follow-up procedure to a 2017 liver transplant. He also had heart bypass surgery in September, after experiencing shortness of breath.

Busch became speaker in 2003. He was known as a consensus builder and an approachable good listener, qualities that helped him manage the diverse 141-member House of Delegates for as long as he did.

Busch was first elected to the House in 1986. His district included the state capital of Annapolis.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.