Janet Howell

  • District: 32
  • Member since: 1992
  • Localities represented: Fairfax County
  • Committees: Courts, Education & Health, Finance, Privileges & Election, Rules
  • Website:

Senator Janet Howell has been increasingly influential in the Virginia Senate since her first election in 1991. Now completing her fifth term, Janet represents Virginia's 32nd District, which encompasses McLean, Great Falls, Herndon, Reston, Tysons Corner, and part of Falls Church.

Senator Howell serves on five of the most powerful standing committees.  She is the first woman ever to serve on the prestigious Senate Finance Committee.  She is the first woman and second non-lawyer to serve on the Courts of Justice Committee.  In addition, she serves on the Committees for Education and Health, Privileges and Elections, and Rules.

As a senior member of the Senate majority party, Janet has many responsibilities.

  • She chairs the Privileges and Elections Committee.  This Committee is responsible for all election law and appointments.  In 2011 it will also be charged with redistricting both the Virginia Senate and the US Congressional Districts.She also chairs the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Public Safety.  This subcommittee oversees more than $2 billion in funding for prisons, jails, juvenile justice, State police, local police and several other programs.
  • Janet is one of the six Senate Budget Conferees.  They negotiate with the House Conferees to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate state budgets.
  • Additionally, Janet is chairman of the Virginia Crime Commission which studies all matters dealing with crime and punishment and makes recommendations to the legislature on many of the most complex and controversial issues.

Over the years, Senator Howell has established her expertise in several areas.

  • She is a recognized expert on family violence prevention and crimes against women and children. She headed the Commission on Family Violence Prevention, which totally revamped domestic violence laws in Virginia.  She led the successful drive to establish a Sex Offender Registry and put the names of convicted sex offenders on the Internet.
    • Called the “Technology Senator” because of her early and intense efforts on behalf of that industry, Janet won the first “TechTenure Award given by the Northern Virginia Technology Council.  Janet continues to carry the major technology-related legislation. She co-chairs the BioTech Caucus.
    • As a member of the Commission on Mental Health Law Reform, Janet has focused during the past three years on improving the treatment of those with mental illness. Currently, she is trying to divert those with mental illness from jails and prisons into more appropriate and less costly community service programs.

Janet Howell was a community leader for twenty years prior to her election.  As a PTA president and head of the Reston Council of PTAs, Janet worked hard to increase the quality of local schools.  She was president of the Reston Community Association for three years, expanding the association’s activities and accomplishments.  She served five years on the State Board of Social Services, including a term as its chairman.

Senator Howell has received numerous awards.  Recently, she was named National Child Health Advocate of the Year by the American Academy of Pediatrics in recognition of her efforts to improve the lives and well being of children throughout the state and nation. She has also received a national award from the Alliance for Tobacco-Free Kids.  The Virginia Interfaith Center honored her as its 2009 “Legislator of the Year.”  She has received the Outstanding Legislative Service Award from the Virginia Sheriff’s Association three times.  She has been honored as a “Community Champion” by Volunteer Fairfax for her seventeen years of volunteer community service and is a past recipient of the “Distinguished Leadership Award” by the Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance.  The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce named her a “Friend of Business.”  The Virginia Housing Coalition called her “Legislator of the Year.”  She has also been named “Senator of the Year” by the Fraternal Order of Police; “Lifetime Achievement Honoree” by the Northern Virginia Technology Council; “Senator of the Year” by the Association for Retarded Citizens; “Legislator of the Year” by Victims and Witnesses of Crime; and “Citizen of the Year” by the Reston Times. The Virginia League of Conservation Voters reports that she consistently has one of the best environmental voting records in the Senate and the Tree Commission named her recipient of its annual “Friend of Trees” award.

Janet Howell is a former public school teacher and legislative assistant.  She has been married since 1966 to Hunt Howell, a development economist.  They have two sons, Eric and Brian, and two granddaughters.  Janet received a B.A. degree from Oberlin College and an M.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

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