Rep. Dan Howell’s Newsroom

Measure Sponsored By Representative Howell Overhauling State’s Welfare System Passes In House

April 13, 2018

(NASHVILLE) — This week Republican lawmakers passed an initiative sponsored by State Representative Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) designed to overhaul Tennessee’s welfare system.

House Bill 1822 — which passed by an 88-7 vote tally — requires able-bodied adults who receive cash benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to meet reasonable work requirements in order to continue receiving benefits. The measure also increases assistance for families who meet these requirements by two percent. This increase is designed to better cover the basic needs of approximately 40,000 children who live in Tennessee.

Additionally, House Bill 1822 curbs instances of fraud, waste, and abuse within the current system by allowing Tennessee to partner with surrounding states in order to ensure there is no double dipping of welfare benefits.

The passage of this measure is the latest in a series of Republican-led efforts — which includes House Bill 1551, also sponsored by Representative Howell  — designed to implement work requirements on able-bodied citizens who receive assistance from the state.

Work requirements for entitlement programs encourage self-sufficiency and less dependence on government benefits. In 1996, Congress passed bipartisan welfare reform requiring able-bodied adults to work in order to receive benefits under both SNAP and TANF. The change resulted in millions of people nationwide moving off government assistance and back into the workforce.

In fact, for the first time in more than a decade, the number of Tennesseans receiving SNAP benefits, formerly called food stamps, dropped to less than 1 million this past January.

“This measure ensures program integrity and guarantees that state resources are managed in the most efficient and effective way possible,” said Representative Howell. “We want our citizens to have meaningful employment, and we also want to make sure that those who are receiving benefits are doing so in good faith and are not taking advantage of the system.”

House Bill 1822 now awaits Governor Haslam’s signature. For more information about this initiative, please click here.

Dan Howell serves as the Chairman of the Joint Government Operations Judiciary & Government Subcommittee and as the Vice-Chairman of the House Local Government Committee. He is also a member of the House Government Operations and Joint Government Operations Committees, as well as the House Local Government Subcommittee. Howell lives in Georgetown and represents House District 22, which includes Meigs, Polk, and part of Bradley Counties. He can be reached by email at: Rep.Dan.Howell@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7799.

Speaker Harwell Appoints Representative Howell To Ocoee River Recreation & Economic Development Board

August 1, 2017

Board will oversee future investments made to preserve the treasured Ocoee River and maintain economic growth

(NASHVILLE) — Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville)  today appointed State Representative Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) to the Ocoee River Recreation & Economic Development Fund Board.

The board was created with the passage of House Bill 74 sponsored by Howell during the 2017 legislative session. This critical initiative saves Tennessee’s prized Ocoee River by supporting recreational water releases on the Ocoee River and also encourages economic growth in the region the Ocoee serves.

The Ocoee River Recreation and Development Fund Board consists of 15 members; each is eligible to serve four-year, renewable terms. The group will oversee future investments in the famed waterway made through the Ocoee River Recreation & Economic Development Fund.

Additionally, they will apply for grants and matching funds in order to sustain the popular whitewater river. They will also request and receive gifts, contributions, and any other donations from public or private sources, create a nonprofit organization for the purpose of fulfilling the mission of the development fund, adopt policies and guidelines for fund usage, conduct studies and make recommendations concerning the Ocoee River management zone, and submit annual reports to the governor, speakers of both the House and Senate, as well as the appropriate legislative committees.

The Ocoee is the most popular whitewater river in the nation; more than 5 million people have utilized it over the last 10 years. The river also hosted the whitewater slalom events during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta; it creates an estimated 640 jobs for Tennesseans through tourism and has a total economic impact of $43.8 million in the southeastern portion of our state.

“I am honored to be appointed to the Ocoee River Recreation & Economic Development Fund Board by Speaker Harwell,” said Representative Howell. “I know our work will continue to enhance our local economy by maintaining and creating jobs; it will also guarantee that our residents and citizens across the country are able to enjoy these historic waters for many more years.”

“Representative Howell is a tremendous asset to this important group that will ensure the Ocoee remains protected and the economic future of southeast Tennessee is sustained,” said Speaker Harwell. “I appreciate his passion for preserving a part of our state’s history, and I thank him for his willingness to serve.”

For more information about House Bill 74/Public Chapter 434, please visit the Tennessee General Assembly website at http://publications.tnsosfiles.com/acts/110/pub/pc0434.pdf

Dan Howell serves as the Chairman of the Joint Government Operations Judiciary & Government Subcommittee and as the Vice-Chairman of the House Local Government Committee. He is also a member of the House Government Operations and Joint Government Operations Committees, as well as the House Local Government Subcommittee. Howell lives in Georgetown and represents House District 22, which includes Meigs, Polk, and part of Bradley Counties. He can be reached by email at: Rep.Dan.Howell@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7799.

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House Republicans Broaden Access To Broadband Services For Rural Tennesseans

April 12, 2017

(NASHVILLE) — This week, House Republicans passed legislation sponsored by State Representative Kevin Brooks (R-Cleveland) and State Representative Dan Howell (R-Georgetown) that improves access to reliable internet services for Tennesseans living in rural communities.

House Bill 529, also known as the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, expands broadband internet services across the state — especially to rural Tennessee communities that completely lack coverage — through business investment, deregulation and education.

Coupled with the state budget, the legislation makes targeted investments through grants and tax credits that focus on the state’s underserved or unserved areas. It also permits the state’s private, nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide retail broadband internet service — something they have been completely unable to do in the past.

Tennessee currently ranks 29th in the country for broadband access; thirteen percent of the state actually lacks accessibility to high speed internet. While only 2 percent of the state’s urban citizens lack access, 34 percent of rural residents per capita are without coverage, placing them at a distinct disadvantage over their city counterparts.

“Our rural communities are a critical component of our state’s economy, and this legislation enables them to grow and prosper,” said Representative Brooks. “I’m excited that Tennessee’s rural residents, including those in my district, will now have their needs for affordable and reliable internet services met, thanks to the passage of the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act.”

“The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act paves the way for the residents of District 22 to have their long-standing internet service needs finally addressed,” said Representative Howell. “ I am pleased that more of my constituents will now have access to dependable broadband internet services.”

The full text of House Bill 529 can be accessed by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0529.pdf

Kevin Brooks serves as the Vice-Chairman of the House Finance, Ways & Means Committee. He is also a member of the House Calendar & Rules and House Insurance & Banking Committee, as well as the House Finance Ways & Means Subcommittee. Brooks lives in Cleveland and represents House District 24, which includes part of Bradley County. He can be reached by email at Rep.Kevin.Brooks@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-1350.

Dan Howell serves as the Chairman of the Joint Government Operations Judiciary & Government Subcommittee and as the Vice-Chairman of the House Local Government Committee. He is also a member of the House Government Operations and Joint Government Operations Committee, as well as the House Local Government Subcommittee. Howell lives in Georgetown and Represents House District 22, which includes Meigs, Polk and part of Bradley Counties. He can be reached by email at: Rep.Dan.Howell@capitol.tn.gov or by calling (615) 741-7799.

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Representative Dan Howell Scores Major Win With Legislation To Combat Welfare Fraud In Tennessee

March 13, 2017

(NASHVILLE) — State Representative Dan Howell (R–Georgetown) has scored a major win with the official passage of legislation designed to combat welfare fraud in Tennessee. Once passed by the Senate, the bill will travel to the desk of Governor Bill Haslam to be signed into law.

House Bill 227, referred to as the Program Integrity Act, is the result of over two years of work between Representative Howell and the Department of Human Services (DHS) and TennCare. As passed, the important legislation gives these departments more tools in the toolbox to help reduce welfare fraud across the state.

Specifically, the bill creates a new system of enhanced verification in Tennessee, requiring DHS to conduct quarterly data matches and crosscheck this data in various ways to help eliminate fraudulent payments that are being made. As society becomes more mobile, the bill allows DHS to explore joining a multistate cooperative for identifying individuals who currently receive Tennessee benefits but who live in other states.

“As people move, get jobs and get married, pass away, or simply falsify their economic statuses, the new computerized crosscheck system created by House Bill 227 will help ensure those who are receiving benefits are only those who actually qualify for the programs and who genuinely need state assistance,” said Representative Howell.

In addition to the new enhanced verification system, the legislation also directs the Tennessee Department of Lottery to report to DHS, on a monthly basis, the name, prize amount, and any other identifying information of welfare recipients who win a prize of $5,000 or more. While this rule is already in federal statute requiring welfare recipients to self-report this information, this change simply adds an extra layer of security to the process by adding that the Department of Lottery will also report this information to the state.

“As lawmakers, we must be willing to make hard decisions to ensure Tennessee taxpayer dollars are protected,” continued Howell. “This legislation helps do exactly that and I am honored to have the opportunity to shepherd this bill through the legislative process.”

In Tennessee, studies estimate the state loses approximately $123 million per year in fraudulent payments to people who are not actually qualified to receive benefits.

The full text of House Bill 227 can be found by visiting the Tennessee General Assembly website at: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/110/Bill/HB0227.pdf.

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