April 2019 Newsletter

April 1, 2019

A Note from Toni

Sen Atkins with Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Honorable Joan P. Weber
Addressing important issues with the Honorable Joan P. Weber (center) and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.

Ensuring a fair and accessible system of justice is one of the most important responsibilities we have in our society. During the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in several events that focused on ways we can make our justice system better.

One event I was excited to be involved in was a summit between leaders of the Legislature and leaders of the courts, including Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. It was the first time such a summit has taken place.

It’s no secret that those of us who write the laws and those who interpret them haven’t always seen eye to eye. The summit allowed for a good exchange of ideas between our two branches of government, and I was very pleased that Attorney General Xavier Becerra was also on hand to present the executive branch perspective.

I believe keeping this dialogue going will help us achieve our common goal—improving the system that affects the lives of so many Californians.

Meanwhile, my Senate colleagues and I were honored to host the Chief Justice for her State of the Judiciary Address—the first time the Senate Chamber has been the site of this annual event.

Her remarks, as always, were incredible.

The Chief Justice started by thanking former Governor Jerry Brown for his work to diversify the courts, making them more representative.

She then focused on several challenges, including income inequality, language barriers, and intentional or unintentional bias, and pointed out some ways that policy changes and technological advances have increased access to the courts.

The Chief Justice finished her address by quoting from Hamilton—the Musical. She didn’t sing—but there’s always next year.

Fortunately, there was also no singing when I joined the Chief Justice for a discussion as part of a conference sponsored by the National Association of Women Judges and the Legislative Women’s Caucus.

The conference focused on the steps the court system and the Legislature are taking to address sexual harassment, and what more needs to be done to rid our society of this toxic problem.

Our discussion was moderated by the Honorable Joan P. Weber, the longtime San Diego trial judge. It was good to see her, and it is good to have her leading on this issue. Many prominent San Diego women judges were also on hand representing out great region.

You don’t have to be a judge or a legislator or even a lawyer to help improve our   justice system. Here in San Diego, the Superior Court is looking to fill two vacancies on the San Diego County Juvenile Justice Commission.

The mission of the Juvenile Justice Commission is to promote an effective juvenile justice system that is “operated in an environment of credibility, dignity, fairness and respect for the youth of San Diego County.”

Applications are available on the Court’s website, www.sdcourt.ca.gov. The application deadline is April 12, 2019. If you are interested, be sure to apply soon.

We all have a role to play — and work to do — if we want to make sure “and justice for all” is reality.



An Update on My Legislation

Senate Bill 1 Press Conference
It was a beautiful day beside San Diego Bay to show unity behind Senate Bill 1.

March is always a busy month in Sacramento as the Legislature springs forward with the season. The budget subcommittees are hard at work vetting funding proposals, and the policy committees are considering hundreds of bills.

As the Senate President pro Tempore, I’m responsible for the legislative process as my colleagues’ bills move through our chamber – and I’m also carrying a few measures of my own. This year, I’ve introduced legislation to address some of the challenges facing San Diego and California as a whole, from environmental protection, to healthcare and higher education.

SB 1, the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019, is California’s “insurance policy” against the reckless deregulation happening at the federal level. SB 1 ensures that any federal environmental or worker safety standard in place as of January 19, 2017, remains in effect under state law even if the federal government rolls it back.

As you can tell from the bill number, it is my No. 1 legislative priority this session, and for good reason: Since taking office 27 months ago, the federal administration has tried to weaken or eliminate at least 34 different regulations, including landmark clean air, clean water, endangered species and worker safety protections.

On March 22, I was joined by some of my legislative colleagues from San Diego, as well as numerous San Diego environmental and labor advocates, at an event on Harbor Island to share information about SB 1 with the local news media. I was grateful for all the support! The bill passed the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on March 20 and now heads to the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.

I’m also carrying measures like SB 52, to make it easier for students to apply for financial aid for technical or occupational training; SB 165, to ensure healthcare providers have trained medical interpreters on-site to serve Medi-Cal enrollees who speak a primary language other than English; and SB 66, to allow federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics to bill Medi-Cal for two visits if a patient is provided mental health services on the same day they receive other medical services.

Each of these measures passed their first committee vote. I will continue to provide updates on all of my bills as they work their way through the legislative process. In the meantime, feel free to contact my terrific, hard-working district staff for the latest information from the Capitol: 619-645-3133.


More Funding to Address Homelessness in San Diego

On March 21, the California Department of Housing and Community Development announced that it had awarded $40.7 million to San Diego County to build permanent housing with supportive services for people who live with severe mental illness and are experiencing homelessness or chronic homelessness, or are at-risk of chronic homelessness.

The funding comes thanks to California voters, who last November approved Proposition 2, allowing the No Place Like Home program to move forward. San Diego County received more than 13% of the funding in the first round of awards, which is great for a county that is home to roughly 8% of the state’s population.

No Place Like Home is part of a major state offensive to reduce homelessness. Last year, the state budget included $1.25 billion to create new housing and fight homelessness. So far, the San Diego region has received more than $35 million of that, with more to come. This year, the Governor’s draft budget includes another $2.6 billion for these purposes.


Brunch with Some Amazing Women

All through March, I celebrated Women’s History Month by posting on social media about a different San Diego-area woman or group of women every day – 48 women in total, who make a huge difference in their communities (please check my Twitter (twitter.com/SenToniAtkins) and Facebook (facebook.com/SDToni) pages to see them all). On March 16, I gathered them all together for what turned out to be a wonderful brunch at Fruitcraft in Hillcrest. We had such a good time that I might just do this again next year!

Women's Brunch
The wonderful women of District 39.

Women's Brunch
Talking about the ways women make a difference.
Women's Brunch
With my choice for Woman of the Year, Charisma De Los Reyes.
Women's Brunch
With honoree Jean Rivaldi.
Women's Brunch
My mentor Christine Kehoe and City Councilmember Jen Campbell helped me honor 48 women.
Women's Brunch
With honorees from the San Diego Rapid Response Network. 

Social Media Corner

Toni's Top Facebook Post


Toni's Top Twitter Post


My Staff at Your Service

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

Recently, a constituent who’s having issues receiving his nurse’s assistant certification renewal contacted my office for help. The nurse’s assistant certification originally issued to him was for less than a year – instead of a typical two-year certification. He had been in contact with the California Department of Health (CDPH) since January and was originally told that there was a clerical error made but still hadn’t received his certification. My staff reached out to CDPH and arranged for a duplicate copy to be sent to the constituent that expires in two years.

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: Field Representative
Tylisa Suseberry: Executive Assistant / Scheduler
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

San Diego History Center's Maker of San Diego History Award
What an honor to receive the San Diego History Center’s Makers of San Diego History award along with my friend and mentor, Christine Kehoe. During the past year, the History Center has done an amazing job of highlighting the struggles and successes of our LGBTQ community.


Junior League of CA State Public Affairs
It was great talking policy at the Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee spring conference in San Diego. I’m always up for a conversation with women who are strong advocates for vulnerable women, children and families.


Asian Pacific American Coalition’s annual awards gala
I had a lovely time at the Asian Pacific American Coalition’s annual awards gala, where I had a chance to recognize one of my Women of the Year in District 39, Mitz Lee.


Planned Parenthood's Expanded Health Center

I was thrilled to help open Planned Parenthood’s expanded health center in Mira Mesa. The expansion will double the number of patient visits!

San Diego League of Women Voters

You want a substantive conversation about a range of important issues? Just have the San Diego League of Women Voters over for a chat.


Burlingame Community Association
I always enjoy being able to talk with my neighbors at the Burlingame Community Association’s annual meeting. What a great start to a Sunday!