When the opening day of the 2024 Maryland General Assembly Session was called to order, Delegate Sheree Sample-Hughes was the Speaker pro tempore in the House of Delegates, the second highest position for a member of the House Democratic Caucus.
By the time the session adjourned, Delegate Sample Hughes had been replaced from that position.
Leadership changes in the Maryland General Assembly are not unusual.
What makes this disheartening is that Delegate Sample-Hughes, who represents parts of Dorchester County and parts of Wicomico County was the only Eastern Shore legislator with a high leadership position in the House Democratic caucus.
Her replacement as Speaker pro tempore is a Delegate from Baltimore.
Delegate Sample-Hughes earned and deserved much more respect and much better outcomes on this matter. To date she has had a long and distinguished career in public service.
After serving two terms as a member of the Wicomico County Council, she was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates.
In the House, she is serving or has served as a member of the Economic Matters Committee, Judiciary Committee, Rules and Executive Nominations Committee, Health and Government Operations Committee, Spending Affordability Committee, Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review, and the Rural Health Care Delivery Work Group.
She is also the House of a Delegates representative to the Rural Maryland Council whose mission is to bring together citizens, community-based organizations, federal, state, county, and municipal government officials, as well as representatives of the for-profit and nonprofit sectors to collectively address the needs of rural Maryland communities. The Council provides a venue for members of agriculture and natural resource-based industries, health care facilities, educational institutions, economic and community development organizations, for-profit and nonprofit corporations, and government agencies to cross traditional boundaries, share information, and address in a more holistic way, the special needs and opportunities in rural Maryland.
Responding to this recent turn of events, Delegate Sample – Hughes said her removal was based on her not supporting legislation that was favored by the Democratic leadership in the House of Delegates. She noted her lack of support for that legislation was based on her being respectful of and responsive to the views of her constituents on that legislation. In that regard, she said, “Where we are today, is that I stood by my convictions and stood up for my constituents. The phone calls and the emails that I received last session on three bills that were, you know, top bills in the state, but I still had to vote my district.”
With a super majority, the Democratic caucus has complete control of the House and has votes to spare on every action during the session including approval of or rejection of legislation. The bottom line is Delegate Sample – Hughes was not needed by the Democratic Caucus to ensure passage of “top bills in the state.”
Following her removal as Speaker pro tempore, Delegate Sample – Hughes observed that the position of Speaker pro tempore has never defined her, and she will continue to do the work that the people of District 37A sent her to Annapolis to do.
All things considered, opening day 2024 in the State House was truly a sad day.
What happened to Delegate Sample – Hughes was far more than her being replaced in a high-level leadership position.
Everyone on the Eastern Shore loses when any member of the Maryland House of Delegates who strives to fulfill their moral obligation to faithfully represent those whom they serve may trigger consequences.
David Reel is a public affairs/public relations consultant who serves as a trusted advisor on strategy, advocacy, and media matters. He lives in Easton.