Legislators sound off at Tysons forum

Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, state Sen. Janet Howell and Del. Mark Keam answer questions from the audience June 8, 2017, during a legislative update held by the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by Brian Trompeter)

What’s good for the Democratic goose is good for the Republican gander. At least that’s the way one incoming committee chairman sees things.

State Sen. Janet Howell (D-Fairfax-Arlington) says now that Democrats have the majority (albeit a slim one) in the upper chamber of the Virginia legislature, they will set the rules for the Senate Committee on Finance the same way Republicans did when they held the majority.

Even though the GOP in recent years has held a razor-thin majority in the Senate, composition of the finance committee had been a lopsided 11-5. With Democrats taking control for 2020, “it’s my duty to take Republicans down to the five they took us down to,” Howell said at the Dec. 3 legislative work session with members of the Arlington County Board.

Howell is slated to become chairman of the powerful committee when the legislature convenes in early January, and confirmed she plans to have it renamed the Committee on Finance and Appropriations to better reflect its function. (In the House of Delegates, there are separate committees for raising funds and spending them, but the Senate has just one.)

Howell said she is planning to ask Republicans on the panel to serve as vice chairs of some of the eight subcommittees, to assist less-senior Democratic subcommittee chairs – “so there will be some continuity and knowledge,” Howell said.

Howell was the first female legislator to ever serve on the Senate Committee on Finance, and will be the first woman to chair it.

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