June 2018 Newsletter

June 1, 2018

A Note from Toni


San Diego is home to an array of talented, hard-working, conscientious people who are dedicated to growing our economy, improving our quality of life and helping others in need. And throughout June, I’ll have the privilege of honoring some of our residents, organizations and businesses for their contributions.

First, on June 6, I will recognize ElderHelp as my choice for Nonprofit of the Year in Senate District 39. Californians are living longer, and the oldest Baby Boomers are now in their 70s. We need organizations dedicated to serving this Silver Tsunami, and San Diego’s ElderHelp is one of the best.

Led by CEO and Executive Director Deborah Martin and her talented staff, ElderHelp’s purpose is to make it easier for seniors to remain in their own homes, providing services like care management and coordination, housing assistance such as roommate matching and affordable-housing navigation, transportation to medical and non-medical appointments, caregiver support and daily check-in calls.

The organization served more than 7,000 seniors in the most recent fiscal year and enrolled 123 volunteers, a 21% increase over the previous year. Those volunteers logged more than 11,000 hours helping clients. Some 60% of new program participants were placed in affordable housing.

Nonprofit of the Year
Elder Help.


Next, on June 19, I will honor i.d.e.a. as my choice for the 39th District’s Small Business of the Year. Led by founders Indra Gardiner Bowers and Jon Bailey, i.d.e.a. has been a leading creative agency in San Diego for the past six years, helping clients such as Qualcomm, Splat, Harrah’s and Curio Hotels connect with the public.

But for i.d.e.a., it’s not just a business for profit. They have a strong community ethic, as well, having been named a Certified B Corporation, which requires meeting rigorous standards for social, community and environmental responsibility. For example, i.d.e.a. partnered with Father Joe’s Villages, which serves homeless San Diegans, to alter the public perception of homelessness from people being a problem to people being seen as who they are: people.

In addition to recognizing i.d.e.a in a ceremony in Sacramento, I will be honoring a number of great small businesses located throughout my district at a local event on June 21.

Vet of the Year
Veronica Zerrer

Finally, my pick for Veteran of the Year in the 39th District will be celebrated on June 20 – and that veteran is Veronica Zerrer. Retired U.S. Army Major Zerrer was active in the U.S. Navy from 1976 to 1980, serving as a cryptologic technician, and then in the Army from 1980 to 1998, as a cavalry scout, platoon leader, company commander and staff officer while assigned to the 1st Infantry and the 35th Infantry Divisions.

After active duty, she served in the Reserves and embarked on a civilian career in social services and government. She has managed a shelter for people experiencing homelessness, a home-maintenance program for seniors and traffic-safety projects for the state of Kansas. She also worked as the tribal grant writer for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and was the director of development for the Orange County, California LGBT Community Center.

Having relocated to San Diego, she is the president of the Board of Directors for both The Neutral Corner, Inc., San Diego’s longest active transgender education organization, and TransFamily Support Services, a nonprofit devoted to supporting transgender youth and their families.

I am pleased to honor these incredible San Diegans and thank them for their considerable contributions to our communities.


An Update on my Legislation

In 2017, the first year of the current two-year session, Governor Jerry Brown signed all 12 of my bills that were sent to him by the Legislature. The biggest of those was SB 2, creating a permanent source of funding for affordable housing. The state started collecting revenue from SB 2 this past January to address our homelessness crisis, and that funding should begin going out to communities throughout California this fall.

Here is a rundown of the legislation I have introduced in 2018:

SB 945: In 2016, Governor Brown signed my bill AB 1795, providing uninsured and underinsured Californians with expanded access to treatment for breast cancer and cervical cancer. SB 945 builds on AB 1795 by removing arbitrary time limits for care. Currently, the state Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program stops providing medical care for breast cancer after 18 months and cervical cancer after 24 months, regardless of medical need. SB 945 removes those limits and requires continuation of treatment as long as necessary. SB 945 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate floor in May and was sent to the Assembly.


SB 970: Hotels and motels are ground zero for human traffickers, which means they’re hiding their criminal activities in plain sight. SB 970 will require all hotels and motels in California to provide training for their employees on how to spot the signs of human trafficking and report those signs to law enforcement. SB 970 passed on the Senate floor in May and was sent to the Assembly.

SB 1005: Sometimes, survivors of domestic abuse who must flee their home to get away from their abuser can’t afford the extra rent or deposit required to move their dog or cat into a new apartment. SB 1005 makes explicitly clear that survivors of violent crimes, such as domestic violence, may use state-provided victim-relocation funds to which they are already entitled to pay for expenses related to housing an animal companion. Having passed on the Senate floor in April, SB 1005 is in the Assembly.

SB 1086: Thanks to AB 1035, passed in 2014, if a public-safety officer dies from a job-related illness more than 240 weeks after being diagnosed, his or her family can still qualify for state-provided survivor death benefits. The bill stretched that statute of limitations to 420 weeks. However, AB 1035 is scheduled to sunset in 2019. My bill, SB 1086, removes the sunset and makes the 420-week limit permanent. A police officer or firefighter’s family should not have to suffer because she or he lived too long. SB 1086 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate floor in May and was sent to the Assembly.

SB 1125: Currently, if a patient receives treatment through Medi-Cal at a community health center from both a medical provider and a mental-health specialist on the same day, the state will reimburse the center for only one visit. A patient must seek mental-health treatment on a subsequent day in order for that treatment to be reimbursed as a second visit. There’s no good reason for that. SB 1125 allows health centers to bill Medi-Cal for both visits, even if they occur on the same day. This change will ensure that more people get the mental-health services they need. SB 1125 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate floor in May and was sent to the Assembly.

SB 1367: This bill follows up on two of my previous bills – AB 392, which made the San Diego River Conservancy permanent, and SB 214, which strengthened the conservancy’s capacity to protect and enhance the San Diego River watershed. SB 1367 gives the San Diego River Conservancy the power to help protect and enhance other nearby rivers – the Otay, Sweetwater, and Tijuana rivers – and their watersheds by helping identify and pursue funding sources, developing strategic plans, and working with local nonprofits and government agencies. SB 1367 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate floor in May and was sent to the Assembly.


Senate Proposes a 2018-2019 Budget

Due in part to the prudent decision-making of the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown, California’s fiscal outlook is the strongest it’s been in a generation. And this year, the Senate is continuing that momentum in its proposal for the state’s 2018-19 budget.

Senators Toni Atkins and Holly Mitchell
In May, I joined with Sen. Holly Mitchell to announce the Senate's budget proposal.


In May, the Governor released his revised budget proposal. The Senate and the Assembly each responded with counter-proposals and have created a conference committee to work on a compromise. Then we’ll negotiate with the Governor and pass a final budget by June 15.

Highlights of the Senate proposal include: the largest and most prudent budget reserves in a generation; the highest investment in K-14 school funding in history; increases in higher education to keep college affordable and accessible for more Californians; increases in healthcare access and mental-health services; restored funding for child care and other critical family programs, providing essential services for the working poor and children living in poverty; increases in proven programs to reduce homelessness and create more affordable housing; and record allocations for local priority transportation projects to improve California’s long-neglected streets and highways.

In short, the Senate’s budget balances fiscal responsibility with social responsibility, robust savings with equitable investments. It shows that we’ve learned from the mistakes of the past by dedicating some of the state’s prosperity to long-neglected programs while keeping California financially well-prepared to weather future economic downturns.

On a personal note, as I have stepped into the role of President pro Tempore, I will again have the opportunity to negotiate next year’s budget on behalf of the Senate. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with California’s iconic Governor, Jerry Brown. He deserves great credit for his leadership in working with the Legislature to turn California’s fiscal outlook around. As many of you know, we started with a $26 billion deficit in 2010, when Governor Brown first came into office. He now leaves us on solid footing, with almost $18 billion in reserves under consideration.

Thank you, Governor Brown!


News on my Interns

Montana and Valentina

I want to thank my most recent intern in our district office, Valentina Macchione (left). She has been incredibly valuable to my staff, and we loved having her! Valentina will graduate from Canyon Crest Academy in June and will study political science at Rutgers University in the fall. And congratulations are in order for Montana Massone (right), who has interned for me twice – most recently last fall. Graduating from Point Loma Nazarene University, she has been accepted to McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento and plans to attend this fall! I have the utmost confidence in her and wish her all the best.


Please Donate Socks for Stand Down

Socks for Stand Down

Once again this year, I am pleased to be leading a drive to provide hundreds of pairs of fresh socks (and underwear) for our military veterans in San Diego County who are experiencing homelessness.

San Diego's 31st Annual Stand Down will take place June 29th through July 1st. 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.

Supporting our veterans is a personal issue for me. I come from a family with a rich tradition of military service, and addressing homelessness has been my policy passion for as long as I have been involved in public service. I am proud to be a position to help make a difference in the lives of struggling veterans.

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 were never enough socks to go around.

Our Socks for Stand Down drive runs now through June 18th. 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, CA  92120-2728

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

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

Clairemont Library
2920 Burgener Blvd., San Diego, CA 92110

Coronado Public Library
640 Orange Ave., Coronado, CA 92118
(Accepting donations through May 29)

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

La Jolla / Riford Branch Library
7555 Draper Ave., La Jolla, CA 92037-4802

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEIU Local 221
4004 Kearny Mesa Blvd., San Diego, CA 92111

San Diego Central Library
330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego Law Library
1105 Front St., San Diego, CA 92101

San Diego Pride (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
3620 30th St., San Diego, CA 92104

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

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

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

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


My Staff at Your Service

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

Recently, a my office got a call from a constituent who was concerned because her son would be without insurance after his upcoming 26th birthday, no longer eligible to be on her insurance plan. My staff let her know that her son can be enrolled in Covered California outside of an open-enrollment period if there is a qualifying life event – and turning 26 is a qualifying life event (https://www.coveredca.com/individuals-and-families/getting-covered/special-enrollment/).

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
Pamela Ison: 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: Director of Media and Editorial

Where to Find Me Online
Twitter: @SenToniAtkins
Facebook: facebook.com/SDToni/
Web: senate.ca.gov/atkins


My district office is located at 1350 Front St., Room 4061, San Diego, CA 92101.

Around the District

Had a great time at the Tierrasanta Patriots Day Parade - I love the community spirit here!


It was a pleasure to attend the Union of Pan-Asian Communities' annual awards dinner and take a picture with UPAC CEO Margaret Iwanaga-Penrose.


PhenomenNOW Event
I was honored to speak at San Diego NOW's PhenomenNOW: Women through the Generations event. We as women are having a moment, and our future is bright!


MLK Breakfast
I was so impressed by these kids who spoke at the 10th annual Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast, one of the most inspirational events I attend every year.


Fiesta del Sol
Fiesta del Sol in Solana Beach is a wonderful event - and not only because it's extremely dog-friendly.


Linda Vista
I loved visiting with the Linda Vista Town Council and giving the community an update on how what's happening in Sacramento affects San Diego.

Albondigas Political Society
What's better than eating meatball soup and talking public policy? It was great to talk with the San Diego Albondigas Political Society about state issues.