Gallaudet University applauds Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) for signing two bills on April 26, 2016, which will directly benefit the deaf community. Senate Bill 272 will allow Maryland's deaf and hard of hearing students to receive a grant from the Howard P. Rawlings Educational Excellence Award. The award was originally designated for Maryland residents attending an in-state institution, but with the passage of the bill, deaf and hard of hearing students can attend an out-of-state school of higher education, including Gallaudet, if comparable provisions are not available within the state. Along with legislative efforts, Hogan signed the bill after accepting recommendations from the Maryland Governor's Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, directed by Kelby Brick, '94. "This bill will enable more Deaf and hard of hearing students from Maryland to attend Gallaudet, the world's premier university for Deaf and hard of hearing students," said Brick. Senate Bill 781 establishes the Maryland Seal of Biliteracy Program, which beginning with the Class of 2017, will allow local school boards to award this honor to high school graduates who attain proficiency levels of one or more languages, including American Sign Language, in addition to English. Maryland joins 17 other states and the District of Columbia in having this program. State Senator Nancy King (D) was the primary sponsor of SB 272; seven other senators (five Democrats and two Republicans) were co-sponsors. State Senator James C. Rosapepe (D) is the primary sponsor of SB 781; 15 other senators (11 Democrats and four Republicans) co-sponsored the bill.