July 2017 Newsletter

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Note from Toni

This is beginning to be a habit – a good one for the people of California: For the seventh year in a row, the Legislature on June 15th passed a state budget that is balanced and was forwarded to the Governor on time. The 2017-18 budget is strong, prudent and progressive. As in recent years, it saves more money for a rainy day and at the same time invests in programs that will help our residents succeed. I was proud to vote for it.

When I was Speaker of the Assembly, I fought hard for the creation of a state-level Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to supplement a federal EITC, which is a proven way to combat poverty. The state EITC was created as part of the budget in 2015, and last year it helped 385,000 working Californians with tax refunds worth an average of $519.

The just-passed budget expands the state EITC, increasing the eligibility ceiling from an annual salary of roughly $14,000 to approximately $22,000 and adding self-employed people to the program. Tens of thousands of San Diego County workers will be newly eligible.

There had been some talk of eliminating the Middle Class Scholarship, but the new budget preserves the program, meaning our families will continue to receive help in sending their kids to college.

We’re continuing to invest in education. The new budget increases K-12 funding by $3.1 billion over last year, including $1 billion more than what was proposed by the Governor in January. Never before has California invested more money per student than it’s investing now.

Thanks to the voters who last year passed Proposition 56 to raise the cigarette tax, California is able to allocate more than half a billion dollars to enhance access to healthcare. Specifically, $465 million will go toward raising reimbursement rates for doctors and dentists who accept Medi-Cal patients, and $50 million will raise Medi-Cal rates for Planned Parenthood providers. Raising rates will only increase chances that providers will take part in in Medi-Cal, which means access to care grows.

More families will be eligible for childcare assistance, as we were able to spend $25 million on increasing the income eligibility limit. Now, those whose pay has gone up because of the increase to the minimum wage will still be eligible for help. Also, another $31 million will help our foster families who have urgent need for childcare services.

Due to the federal government stepping up immigration enforcement, we’ve allocated $30 million to the OneCalifornia program to help residents who are facing deportation. We want to make sure that immigrants who have become important parts of our communities and our economy are treated fairly, and we want to do as much as we can to keep families together.

Meanwhile, this budget allocates $2.8 billion toward repairing our state highways and local roads. Residents will begin to see real results for the contributions they are making. Our roads will become safer, and we’ll begin to pay less for repairs to our cars.

We were able to do all of this while still contributing to our state’s reserves. This budget adds $1.4 billion to our Rainy Day Fund, bringing the total to $8.5 billion since it was created just three years ago. It is scheduled to grow to more than $12 billion by fiscal year 2020-21. When you include our regular reserves, we now have $9.9 billion socked away.

Progressive and prudent. Since the end of the Great Recession, California has made tremendous investments in its residents and its programs while also guarding against the next downturn. Our state is heading in the right direction.

An Update on My Legislation

My 2017 bills – addressing issues such as housing, human trafficking, healthcare, LGBT rights, environmental protection, labor, and juvenile justice – are making their way through the legislative process. Here’s what happened in June:SB 214 Hearing

SB 179: The Gender Recognition Act, SB 179, cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 27. The bill would make California the second state in the country, behind Oregon, to allow nonbinary residents – those who self-identify as neither male nor female – to choose a third gender marker on driver’s licenses and the first to allow it on other state-issued identity documents, such as birth certificates.

It would also make it easier for transgender, intersex or nonbinary Californians to obtain state identification documents that accurately reflect their gender, removing several barriers that make it onerous for people seeking name- and gender-change court orders or seeking a gender change on birth certificates, driver’s licenses, and identity cards.

 

SB 214: In 2015, the governor signed AB 392, my bill to make the San Diego River Conservancy permanent. SB 214 builds on that, strengthening the conservancy’s capacity to protect and enhance historic, cultural, and natural resources within the watershed along the 52-mile San Diego River. The bill cleared the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on June 19 and the Assembly Appropriations Committee on June 28.

SB 214 adds representation from the city of Santee and the Kumeyaay Diegueño Land Conservancy to the conservancy’s Board of Directors and provides the conservancy with greater ability to enter into joint-powers agreements.

 

SB 223: When it comes to healthcare regulation, state and federal laws are not completely in alignment. In some ways, the federal Affordable Care Act is stronger than state law in nondiscrimination protections and language-services standards.

SB 223 would require health plans in California to meet the highest standards in nondiscrimination measures, consumer protections and language-assistance services – no matter what changes might occur to the Affordable Care Act. It would ensure equal access to affordable healthcare regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, age, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. The bill cleared the Assembly Health Committee on June 27.

 

SB 285: Currently, public employers are barred from interfering with, intimidating, restraining, coercing, or discriminating against employees while those employees are exercising their right to have union representation.

SB 285, which cleared the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee on June 21, strengthens the law by making it clear that not only do public employees have the right to form a union or engage in union activities without interference – they also have the right to become members or remain as members of a union without interference, intimidation, or coercion.

 

SB 310: Transgender people who are incarcerated should have the same right as anyone else to legally change their name or gender and to be recognized for who they are. SB 310 – the Name and Dignity Act – establishes the right of people incarcerated in state prisons and county jails to access the courts to obtain a name or gender change. It also requires corrections officials to use the new name of a prisoner who has successfully obtained a name change.

In addition to providing transgender prisoners with a sense of dignity while incarcerated, SB 310 will increase the chances for them to successfully reenter society. The bill cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 27.

 

SB 379: This bill, which cleared the Assembly Education Committee on June 21, makes minor changes to current law that I believe will have major impacts on child oral health in the future.

The bill allows schools to facilitate dental screenings by requiring parents to opt-out if they do not want their children to receive an assessment. However, any treatment of students would still require prior consent. It also adds data on tooth decay to the list of data that must be reported to the county and encourages schools to send oral-health data to the state.

SB 379 will allow us to screen more children, which will in turn lead to more treatment, better collection of statewide data, and improved overall oral-health strategies.

 

SB 462: This modest but necessary bill cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee on June 20. It clarifies that probation departments may access juvenile case files in order to comply with reporting requirements. It also allows courts to authorize probation departments to engage third-party researchers for limited access to juvenile case files to conduct research on juvenile-justice populations and the programs that serve them.

SB 462 ensures that no personally identifying information from a juvenile case file may be released, disseminated, or published.

 

SB 548: By law, local firefighters may not go on strike amid labor disputes with their employers; they’re limited to filing grievances with the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB). Unfortunately, PERB is often unable to rule on these complaints in a timely manner.

This bill would ensure that cases related to bad-faith bargaining are eligible for an expedited process. It gives PERB five days to determine whether a grievance is eligible to be expedited, and if it is, PERB is required to issue a ruling within 150 days. SB 548 cleared the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee on June 21.

 

SB 667: This bill, which cleared the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on June 27, enables the Riverine Stewardship Assistance Program (RSAP), which was created in the 2016-17 state budget. The RSAP provides technical and financial support for stream restoration, reduced flood risk and improved habitat corridors, empowering communities to reconnect with and take pride in their neighborhood waterways.

 

Celebrate LGBT Pride!

LGBT PrideI look forward to participating in the San Diego LGBT Pride Parade and Festival every year – San Diego’s biggest annual celebration. Our community has achieved so much in our long push for civil rights and justice, but there is still work to do to make sure that no one is left behind and that we have full equality across the board.

For me, Pride is marked this year by a bill that am extremely pleased to carry through the Legislature. If passed and signed by the Governor, SB 179 – the Gender Identity Act – will create a third gender marker on state-issued identity documents for Californians who identify as neither male nor female, and also make it easier for people to obtain identity documents that match their gender presentation. Many transgender, nonbinary and intersex people experience ID anxiety, and I believe SB 179 will do a lot to help alleviate it.

Once again, I will be marching with my staff and friends in the Pride Parade, both in celebration of the rights we have secured after hard-fought battles and in solidarity for the rights we will win in the future.

I hope you’ll join us at the parade, festival and the other Pride-related events listed here.

SheFest: A woman-centered event celebrating and supporting the talents and contributions of women while fostering meaningful connections within the LGBT and larger San Diego communities. From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 8, at North Park Community Park, 4044 Idaho St. in North Park. https://sdpride.org/shefest/

Light Up the Cathedral – An Interfaith Pride Celebration: Elected officials, interfaith leaders and San Diego’s LGBT community will witness the Cathedral’s annual ceremonial lighting of its rainbow exterior and celebrate the historical connection between LGBT people of faith and affirming communities. From 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 12, at St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, 2728 Sixth Ave. in Bankers Hill.

Trans Pride 2017: The transgender community will hold a picnic with informational booths, resources, games, workshops and entertainment. From 1 to 6 p.m. Friday, July 14, in Balboa Park at Sixth Avenue and El Prado.

Spirit of Stonewall Rally: A time to recognize and honor leaders who are working hard to preserve LGBT gains and meet the many challenges still facing the community. From 6 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 14, at the Hillcrest Pride Flag, University Avenue and Normal Street in Hillcrest. https://sdpride.org/rally/

Pride of Hillcrest Block Party: The official kick-off Party to Pride weekend, this will be a celebration of the neighborhood, with all proceeds benefiting the maintenance of the Pride Plaza. From 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 14, at the Hillcrest Pride Flag, University Avenue and Normal Street in Hillcrest. This is a 21+ event. https://sdpride.org/block-party/

Pride 5K: The USTAF-certified 5K race is a fast, flat, time-chipped course along the Pride Parade route that has crowds cheering runners on as they gather for the parade. Starts at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 15, at University Avenue at Centre Street in Hillcrest. https://sdpride.org/pride5k/

Pride Parade: To join Senator Toni Atkins’ parade contingent, RSVP to Toni.Duran@sen.ca.gov. Starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 15, at the Hillcrest Pride Flag, University Avenue and Normal Street, proceeds west on University, turns south on Sixth Avenue, turns left onto Balboa Drive and ends at Quince Drive. https://sdpride.org/parade/

Pride Music Festival: Celebrate diversity and dance the day and night away with more 100 entertainers on four stages. Singles, couples, friends, families and people of all ages welcome. From noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 15, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, July 16, at Marston Point in Balboa Park, Sixth Avenue and Laurel Street. https://sdpride.org/festival/

Artist RD Riccoboni Chosen for Capitol Exhibition

RD Riccoboni Chosen for Capitol ExhibitionCongratulations to RD Riccoboni, the San Diego artist I selected to be included in the state Senate’s Tenth Biennial California Contemporary Art Collection!

Every other year, senators are asked to identify a work of art by an artist who they feel best represents their district, and those who are chosen have their piece displayed at the Capitol for a year-and-a-half, until September 2018.=

To me, RD’s painting “We Rise As We Lift Others” is a perfect choice to represent the 39th District. It depicts LGBTQ rainbow flags flying from the walls of the Museum of Man and California Tower in Balboa Park on June 26, 2015, celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court upholding marriage equality from coast to coast.

And the perfect time to tell my constituents about it is July – Pride month in San Diego! I am proud to share this wonderful painting with the Capitol community, and I am proud to be a member of the LGBTQ community.

 

 

Socks for Stand Down

Socks for Stand Down

Once again this year, I am pleased to be running a drive to provide hundreds of pairs of fresh socks for the military veterans in San Diego County who are experiencing homelessness.

San Diego’s 30th annual Stand Down will take place from July 21st through 23rd. The event, sponsored by Veterans Village of San Diego, gives homeless veterans a chance to rest for several days in a welcoming environment, along with others who have shared experiences. Charitable organizations are on hand to provide comprehensive services to help participants with their various needs.

For several years now, my staff and I have helped by asking the public to donate pairs of new socks to distribute at Stand Down – because there are never enough socks to go around.

Our Socks for Stand Down drive started in June and lasts through July 10. If you’d like to donate, you can bring a new pair of socks to any of these locations:

Allied Gardens/Benjamin Branch Library
5188 Zion Ave., San Diego, 92120-2728

California State Building – Lobby or Room 4061
1350 Front St., San Diego, 92101

Carmel Valley Branch Library
3919 Townsgate Drive, San Diego, 92130

Chula Vista Public Library
365 F St., Chula Vista, 91910

Coronado Public Library
640 Orange Ave., Coronado, 92118

Del Mar County Library
1309 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, 92014

Linda Vista Branch Library
2160 Ulric St., San Diego, 92111

Mission Valley Library
2123 Fenton Pkwy., San Diego, 92108

Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library
3701 Voltaire St., San Diego, 92107-1606

Malcolm X Branch Library
5148 Market St., San Diego, 92114

Mira Mesa Branch Library
8405 New Salem St., San Diego, 92126

Pacific Beach / Taylor Branch Library
4275 Cass St., San Diego, 92109-4005

Rancho Peñasquitos Branch Library
13330 Salmon River Road, San Diego, 92129-2640

Rancho Bernardo Branch Library
17110 Bernardo Center Drive, San Diego, 92128-2002

San Diego Pride
3620 30th St., San Diego, 92104

San Diego LGBT Community Center
3909 Centre St., San Diego, 92103

Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa Branch Library  
9005 Aero Drive, San Diego, 92123-2312

Solana Beach Branch Library
Earl Warren Middle School, 157 Stevens Ave., Solana Beach, 92075

University Community Branch Library
4155 Governor Drive, San Diego, 92122

University Heights Branch Library
4193 Park Blvd., San Diego, 92103

Thank you for your support!

 

My Staff at Your Service

My district staff is always available to help constituents navigate a complex web of state agencies.

Recently, my office was contacted by Congressman Scott Peters, who relayed the story of a constituent we share. This young woman is a disabled student at Whittier College who was offered a 10-week internship in Washington, D.C., and had secured funding for personal care attendants through the San Diego Regional Center during her stay in the capital.

About a week before her internship was set to begin, she learned that the Regional Center, due to a misunderstanding, had reversed course and declined to fund her care. The decision jeopardized not only her internship but also her chances of graduating on time, because the internship included necessary credits.

My staff reached out to the California Department of Developmental Services, which contacted the Regional Center, which in turn recognized the error and reinstated the student’s funding. I am happy that my staff was able to help, and I wish her all the best during her internship.

If you’re having trouble working out an issue with any state agency, please call my office at 619-645-3133, and my staff will do everything in their power to help.

My District Staff

Myrna Zambrano: District Director
Deanna Spehn: Policy Director
Jason Weisz: Senior Field Representative
Toni Duran: Field Representative
Chevelle Tate: Field Representative
Ryan Trabuco: Scheduler / Field Representative
David Rolland: Communications Director

Where to Find Me Online

Twitter: @SenToniAtkins
Facebook: facebook.com/SDToni
/Web: senate.ca.gov/atkins

 

Around the District

Claire and Adam
Claire and Adam were kind enough to open up their home on a Saturday afternoon so I could meet with a small group of residents in Normal Heights.

Linda Vista
We celebrated the history of Linda Vista during a historical walking tour of this diverse community.


I always enjoy the Old House Fair in my home community of South Park.

Rancho Bernarndo
It was a beautiful day in Rancho Bernardo for the RB Alive street fair.

Nacho the dog
Before a press interview, I met Nacho, a sweet 10-year-old looking for a loving home.

Pride Celebration

Pride Celebration

Pride Celebration
We took to the streets to demonstrate for fairness and justice in the Equality March.