Speaker Howell has led the charge to tackle some of the Commonwealth’s most pressing challenges. In 2012, Speaker Howell advocated major reforms to the Virginia Retirement System that reduced unfunded liabilities by nearly $9 billion. In 2013, he took the unprecedented step for a Speaker of sponsoring a comprehensive transportation funding plan – the first transportation funding overhaul in 27 years. Working with Governor Bob McDonnell, Howell helped successfully pass the bill, which will generate over $6 billion in new statewide funding for roads, highways and transit over the next five years.
Speaker Howell is also a strong advocate of environmental preservation and conservation efforts. A strong supporter of restoring the Chesapeake Bay, he led the effort to enact Virginia’s national model program for open-spaces land preservation using free-market principles. Speaker Howell has also been a leading proponent of Virginia’s land conservation tax credit program, which has helped preserve over 500,000 acres since its creation 10 years ago.
Speaker Howell was named the 2013 “Legislator of the Year” by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He was also named one of Governing Magazine’s 2013 “Public Officials of the Year.”
Speaker Howell also chairs the House Rules Committee and the Joint House-Senate Rules Committee.
Howell is involved in many legislative leadership activities. He currently serves as Chairman of the National Speakers Conference, a national organization of state House speakers. In 2009, Howell served as National Chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the nation’s largest nonpartisan individual membership association of state legislators. He’s been on ALEC’s Board of Directors since 2003 and, in 2001 they honored him as State Legislator of the Year.
A citizen-legislator, Bill Howell practices trust and estate law in a restored log cabin which overlooks the Rappahannock River near his home in historic Falmouth. He and his wife, Cessie have been married for 47 years, have two sons, and enjoy seven energetic grandchildren.