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Speaker Jones names lone Eastern Shore Democrat as second-in-command for her first year leading Maryland House

Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones has set a new leadership team for her chamber in Annapolis.
Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones has set a new leadership team for her chamber in Annapolis. (Paul W. Gillespie / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Adrienne Jones has selected Eastern Shore Del. Sheree Sample-Hughes as her second-in-command.

Sample-Hughes, the only Democrat and the only person of color from the Shore in the House, will fill the role of speaker pro tem, with the responsibility of leading the chamber during floor sessions when Jones is absent.

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Sample-Hughes has represented a district that includes parts of Dorchester and Wicomico counties since 2015. She is a past member of the Wicomico County Council.

Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat who was unanimously elected speaker in May, also named Del. Bonnie Cullison of Montgomery County on Friday as assistant speaker pro tem.

Jones served as speaker pro tem under Speaker Michael E. Busch for 16 years, until Busch’s death in April.

As speaker, Jones not only presides over House sessions, but also assigns members to committees and leadership posts. Other assignments Jones announced Friday included:

  • Del. Eric Luedtke of Montgomery County as majority leader. He most recently served as Democratic Caucus chairman, and presided over the hourslong, closed-door debate that led to Jones’ selection as speaker.
  • Del. Jazz Lewis of Prince George’s County as Democratic Caucus chairman and Del. Courtney Watson of Howard County as vice chairman.
  • Del. Kathleen Dumais of Montgomery County as vice chairwoman of the Economic Matters Committee. Dumais most recently was majority leader, and is now filling a position left vacant by the resignation of Baltimore County Del. Eric Bromwell. Dumais also will serve as co-chairwoman of the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee.

Jones also announced several subcommittee leadership posts and shuffled members to different committees. Notably, Harford County Del. Mary Ann Lisanti was placed on the Ways and Means Committee. Lisanti was censured by her colleagues in February after The Washington Post reported she used a racial slur during a private gathering of lawmakers. Additionally, Busch stripped Lisanti of her assignment on the Economic Matters Committee.

“Today’s appointments to House leadership recognize the hard work and talent of our members and bring new leaders and voices to the table,” Jones said in a statement. “I am confident that we have the right leadership in place to meet the challenges before us.”

Jones said those challenges include funding improvements to classroom instruction and school buildings, as well as “improving the lives of middle-class Marylanders.”

The next session of the General Assembly is scheduled to begin Jan. 8.

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