Senator Janet Howell

Senator Janet Howell Senator Howell represents the 32nd District which includes Herndon, Reston, Great Falls, McLean, Tysons, and parts of Arlington and Falls Church.

Senator Howell is serving her 6th term in the Virginia Senate. She represents the 32nd District which includes Herndon, Reston, Great Falls, McLean, Tysons, and parts of Arlington and Falls Church. She also is a senior member of the Finance, Education and Health, Rules and Courts of Justice Committees. She is the first woman to be a Senate budget conferee.

Access to heath care is critically important to Virginians’ quality of life and livelihoods and to our economy.  The art...
Howell, Surovell and Lopez column: Democrats continue their fight for quality health care for all Virginians

Access to heath care is critically important to Virginians’ quality of life and livelihoods and to our economy.

The article below highlights what Democrats are doing to continue their fight for quality health care for all Virginians.

By Janet Howell, Scott Surovell and Alfonso Lopez

Editorial: Foster care changes will serve Virginia kids
Editorial: Foster care changes will serve Virginia kids

Editorial: Foster care changes will serve Virginia kids

A HIGHLIGHT of this year’s General Assembly session was the unanimous approval lawmakers gave to a major overhaul of Virginia’s troubled foster care system.

James B. Cole column: Keeping health care workers safe, too
James B. Cole column: Keeping health care workers safe, too

James B. Cole column: Keeping health care workers safe, too

Americans were shocked and saddened recently by the news about a well-liked and respected young nurse practitioner whose life was taken during a violent assault at a Wisconsin hospital.


From Augusta Free Press:

"Senate Democrats applaud the passage of a bipartisan budget that includes a 5% teacher salary increase, 1% state employee pay increase, $94 million for higher education, $194 million for K-12 public education, $7 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and $1.3 billion deposited into Virginia’s Rainy Day and Cash Reserve funds. The conference budget passed with a vote of 40-0 in the Senate."

Senate budget conferee Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) said the following about the budget:

“This budget is a product of a bipartisan process to invest in the Commonwealth’s priorities and create a plan that reflects the diverse needs of our state. Senate Democrats fought for the inclusion of a varied set of priorities that reflect the needs of our growing economy and we’re proud to support the final version of this budget.”

House of Delegates refused to have a vote on the ERA. I watched from the House gallery

House of Delegates refused to have a vote on the ERA. I watched from the House gallery


My thoughts on Governor Northam:

The Ralph Northam I know is not a racist. The Ralph Northam I know is a decent and kind man. For the ten years I have known him, he has courageously tried to promote racial harmony in our Southern state.

However, if he is in the disgraceful, abhorrent photo, he must resign. This is a very sad time for our Commonwealth.

This horrible episode has ripped the scab off the festering wound of discrimination still in Virginia. We must all examine our consciences to see what more we can do to bring healing and reconciliation to all Virginians.

Senate Floor Speech Jan 22, 2019

Senator Howell's Point of Personal privilege speech in the Senate Tuesday, January 22, 2019, regarding Roe v Wade and her response when she was living in Mexico and learned it had passed.

I was absolutely appalled by this article.  Such treatment of nursing mothers by the Department of Corrections and its c...
‘A Pumping Conspiracy’: Why Workers Smuggled Breast Pumps Into Prison

I was absolutely appalled by this article. Such treatment of nursing mothers by the Department of Corrections and its contractor is not acceptable. Requiring women to pump breast milk in the men's room is unacceptable. I immediately contacted Sec. of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran to express my disgust. He promised to look into what happened and correct it. He pointed out that the Department of Corrections supports breast feeding by their employees.

Many employers don’t provide workers with time and space to express breast milk. Millions of families are affected — and often, it’s a violation of federal law.


July 10, 2018

We Are Off!

My husband Hunt and I have started our eleven day car trip through Southside and Southwest Virginia. This is not your typical vacation. Let me explain. Earlier this year I realized I don't know parts of Virginia as well as I would like. I have gone all over the state for various commission meetings but those are very programmed and rushed.

Hunt and I were reading The Extremes of Virginia by August Wallmeyer and we agreed we should visit sometime. The two regions are facing daunting challenges -- economic, educational, lifestyle, workforce, and health. Local leaders and economic development officials are working very hard with mixed results. The state is trying to assist but often we are uncertain what exactly to do.

In April I was asked a question at a large Leadership Arlington breakfast: "What are you doing to make people in the rest of the state understand the needs of Northern Virginia?"

My instant response was that I thought they will listen to me more if I listen to them more. And, then, in an off-handed way I mentioned that my husband and I were thinking of a trip this summer.

I should have known better! The comment was picked up in Arlington Now. That article was put on a statewide news clipping service. It was read by the editor of the Roanoke Times, Dwayne Yancey. He wrote an editorial about my trip and asked readers to send suggestions on what we should see.


We got a really heartwarming response. People from all over the region sent ideas, some invited us to visit them at their home. Significantly, Augie Wallmeyer (the author who wrote the book) offered his help and helped guide our choices. He will join us a couple days.

My fear is that we are overbooked but I am so excited by the prospects of the trip. We will visit Farmville, Danville, Martinsville, Marion, Bristol, Abington, and Galax. We have contacts everywhere -- mostly with people we have never met but who reached out to us.

I'll let you know the highlights of the trip when we get back.

Janet Signature
Senator Janet Howell


Reflections on Our Extended Session

Finally, finally, we have a budget. As the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, I have been working closely with senior Republicans in the House and Senate to reach a compromise budget. It is by far the best budget we have produced in decades.

People of good will, working together against obstructionists and refusing to give up, can change the future of our state.

Citizens demanding action propel us forward. Governor Northam was brilliant: no budget without Medicaid Expansion. He spoke softly and carried a big stick!

The budget includes the expansion of Medicaid coverage to approximately 400,000 adults, most of whom are employed. These are the working poor, our neighbors who work long hours for little pay and no benefits. Virginia has long had one of the stingiest programs in the country. Our current program doesn't cover most adults - but it is recognized as one of the best run in the country. We are committed to continuing to run an efficient program. But that is not good enough. Moving forward, we are creating a new unit at JLARC (Joint Audit and Review Commission) to constantly evaluate the program and recommend improvements.

It is estimated that Virginia will receive about two billion dollars a year from Washington for the expansion. Those funds will be an economic stimulus and job creator for our state, especially in the more impoverished regions. Our challenged rural hospitals will be stabilized. Additionally, people with substance abuse problems and mental health issues will be able to receive professional help.

Because we are finally accepting the money Virginia taxpayers have been sending to Washington, and because we are assessing hospitals to pay the state's 10% share of expansion, we will save about half a billion dollars in state General funds. These savings are being reinvested in programs for Virginians.

All sections of our budget are benefiting.

Most impressive are the program enhancements to our mental health and substance abuse programs. We are implementing virtually all of the recommendations of the Deeds Commission on Mental Health Reform. I am a member of the Commission and can assure you these improvements are essential to make our system humane and able to treat those who need our help. Over $84 million in new dollars will be spent to modernize our system. Most importantly, funding will be focused on preventing the cruel and costly practice of sending those with mental illness to jail. Of special importance to me, we are investing $14 million in housing supports for people with mental illnesses.

One of the most difficult issues we have faced for the past two decades is how long the waiting list is for services for people with intellectual disabilities. We are under court order to close most of our training centers and provide community options for these disabled people. We have been slowly increasing opportunities but the waiting list nonetheless grows. Forty six million additional dollars are being directed to address this crisis. By funding new slots and reallocating slot distribution we are adding 1645 disabled people to our waiver system. That reduced by about half the waiting list for Priority One individuals. We still have a long way to go, but this is the greatest reduction in the waiting list ever.

We are significantly increasing funding to K-12 education. In addition to completely funding the biennial "rebenchmarking" ($481 million), we have approved the state share of a 3% salary increase for school positions, effective July 1, 2019, assuming we hit revenue targets. Several pilot and innovative initiatives have been funded. For example, Wolftrap's early education program in the arts is being expanded into various parts of the state.

Pre-Kindergarten funding and programs have also been augmented more than $6 million and many of the constructive recommendations of JLARC have been approved.

Economic development is a priority. GOVirginia, an initiative encouraging creative cooperation to promote regional development statewide, has received an additional $16 million. CyberX received $20 million. This is an initiative of our universities and business community to make our state competitive in the growing cyber security sector.

We are continuing to reform our juvenile justice system. The changes are working! Kids are not recidivating at the former rate - in fact, we now are leading the nation rehabilitating youthful offenders. We are heavily investing in smaller facilities and programs in local communities. The savings we reap by helping children in less expensive settings than juvenile prisons will be reinvested in programs to set them on the right path.

We are setting aside nearly one billion dollars to cushion our programs from any downturn in the economy. Bonding agencies are worried about Virginia's dependence on federal government spending in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. We believe they will support our efforts and continue to give us a AAA bond rating.

Our growing economy and savings from expanding Medicaid have made all this possible.

The process we were forced to create as a result of the stonewalling of the majority of the Republicans is not one I want to repeat. Those handful of us tasked with coming up with the compromise budget were reluctant to go outside the usual process.

However, the reality was we had to pass a budget. Local governments could not finalize their budget without knowing state supports. Virginia is required to pass a balanced budget. We cannot rely on continuing resolutions. Our current budget ends June 30. We were about to go off a cliff. Delegate Chris Jones and Senator Emmett Hanger (both Republicans) deserve our respect and gratitude. They took the lead and guided us to an excellent budget in very troubled times.

I look forward to your comments and advice. And, my aide, Karol Straub, and I relish helping you with any difficulties with state government.

Janet Signature
Senator Janet Howell



The May 5 Town Hall at the Old Firehouse in McLean has been postponed. Several of the legislators will be attending the funeral of Lucy Denney, a dedicated and indomitable campaign worker in Arlington who assisted all of them.

The Town Hall will be rescheduled at a later date.
Thank you for understanding.


Mark your Calendar! I hope you can join me!

Legislators Town Hall Meeting
Saturday, May 5, 10-11:30 am
Old Firehouse in McLean
1440 Chainbridge Road

Participatiing legislators include:
Senators Janet Howell and Barbara Favola
Delegates Rip Sullivan, Marcus Simon, Mark Keam
Delegate Murphy may not be able to participate due to a previous commitment.

Bring your questions and comments!
See you there!

I am honored to be named a Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association Health Care Hero.  VHHA stated the awards are “bes...

I am honored to be named a Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association Health Care Hero. VHHA stated the awards are “bestowed on elected officials who have a demonstrated record of supporting issues related to hospitals and health care, have taken important stands on behalf of hospitals and health care, have introduced or supported priority legislation impacting hospitals and health care, and have proven leadership in effecting significant change to benefit hospitals and health care.”

The award stated “Senator Janet Howell has been a tireless champion for health care, including her years of service on the Senate Education and Health Committee. Senator Howell has been recognized nationally for her work on improving the health care of children in her district and throughout the state. [She was named the National Child Advocate of the year by the National Academy of Pediatrics]. She has also been a strong voice on mental health and health care access issues.”

I will continue to advocate for our hospitals and for healthcare needs for all, especially for the uninsured and those in need of mental health care.


Reston, VA




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