October 2019 Newsletter

October 1, 2019

A Note from Toni

With Assemblymember David Chiu, talking about protecting California renters.


Every legislative session brings new challenges and opportunities, but this session was particularly exceptional, and notable for the quality of the bills we passed. Throughout this first year of the two-year session, our work resulted in legislation that will improve the lives, health, and safety of San Diegans and all Californians.

Before I recap some of the highlights, I want to say thank you to you, the people of my district, who voiced support and posed questions and concerns to my staff and me throughout the legislative process. Your participation is most welcome and appreciated.

In addition to passing a $214 billion budget that was bold and responsible, we also crafted and vetted hundreds of bills that sought to improve life in California.

  • Housing: This session, we protected renters from indiscriminate evictions and rate increases, passed a bill that ensures local housing development applications are processed in a timely manner,and expanded protections against housing discrimination for Californians who receive public assistance.
  •  Public Safety: We passed landmark legislation to reform our state’s use-of-force standard to end preventable deaths without jeopardizing the safety of our law enforcement officers. We also passed legislation requiring law-enforcement agencies to adopt new training policies in accordance with the new standard. And we negotiated a solution to overhaul the way our state and utilities cover the cost of wildfire damages.
  • Education: We passed legislation to put a $15 billion education construction bond on the ballot in March 2020 to fund preschool, K-12, and college facilities, and reformed the Charter Schools Act to increase accountability for all charter schools, allowing them to succeed under an improved review process and enhanced transparency. How California’s schools are educating our youth is critically important, and the legislation we passed this year will help us better reach our goal of providing the highest-quality public education.
  • Health care: We passed, and the Governor signed, SB 165, legislation I authored to establish pilot project sites to provide limited English proficient Medi-Cal patients with interpreter services at doctor visits. We also passed legislation giving new tools to the Attorney General to help bring down drug prices in our health care system.
  • Water: We passed AB 1290, which I co-authored with Assemblymember Todd Gloria, which will allow San Diego to move forward with its Pure Water program, making sure our region has a sustainable supply of clean water.
  • Business: We established a tax credit for the preservation and rehabilitation of historic buildings through SB 451, which will add good paying jobs and spark investment in our communities.
  • Environment: We also were successful in passing SB 507, legislation I authored that transfers management of the submerged tidelands within San Diego Bay from the state to the Port of San Diego, in an effort to streamline the administrative process. It also transfers some other unrelated parcels in trust to the City of San Diego to be maintained as open space for the public benefit, such as wetland bird habitat and park space. The Governor signed SB 507 on September 27. And while we were not successful with my SB 1 – both houses passed it but Governor Newsom vetoed it – we will continue to pursue ways to safeguard our state from federal attempts to unravel protections for our environment, public health, our endangered species, and our workers.

We have accomplished a great deal on behalf of Californians, and I look forward to the continued work ahead. Thank you for supporting our legislative efforts, and for all you do for our San Diego community.

Standing Up for Women’s Rights

I was humbled to receive the Ally of the Year award from Planned Parenthood in September.


This legislative session marked a time of action to uphold women’s reproductive rights and access to health services.

We passed SB 24, authored by Senator Connie Leyva and co-authored by myself and many of my colleagues, to make medication abortions more accessible on Cal State and UC college campuses.

We also passed a bill allowing pharmacists to furnish HIV preventatives without requiring a physician visit, and approved legislation requiring implicit-bias training for doctors and nurses treating pregnant women, to improve awareness of racial bias on maternal and infant health.

And in a supplemental budget bill, we provided $10 million for security at clinics that provide abortions, to ensure the safety of staff and patients.

The Legislature also anticipated changes at the federal level to the Title X “gag order” rule and doubled funding for reproductive health services in our most recent budget. This new federal rule prohibits clinics from receiving federal funding for family planning services unless they agree to refrain from providing women with information and referrals on the full range of family-planning services, including abortion.

I stand beside Planned Parenthood in its decision to withdraw from Title X federal funding, and respect the organization’s continued efforts to provide women and families with access to all options and information from their doctor.

The gag order rule imposed by the federal administration reaches far beyond imposing new rules governing abortion counseling – it directly impacts women’s bodies, options, and decisions. And it inhibits our ability to plan our own futures.

Clinics like Planned Parenthood are a vital part of our state’s spectrum of health, and I am honored to have recently received Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s “Ally of the Year Award” at its September 26 event.

We are committed to protecting and bolstering California’s support of reproductive- and sexual-health rights, and we’ll remain steadfast in that commitment in the years ahead.

Arts Grants Available

The California Arts Council has announced that grant season has begun. Right now, applications are being accepted for 15 different grant programs, and additional grant programs will be opening up in 2020. Grants range in size from $3,000 to $50,000.

Interested arts and cultural organizations should visit www.arts.ca.gov as soon as possible, because these application periods will be closing on various dates in October and November.

Last year, 40 organizations based in my 39th Senate District received nearly $1.37 million in grant funding! The state of California supports the arts, and I would love to see additional investments in art and culture in San Diego County. Apply now!

$500,000 for Feeding San Diego

I was thrilled to learn that Feeding San Diego, a hunger-relief organization that serves more than 63,000 local residents, including children, seniors, and military members, has received a $500,000 grant from CalRecycle to expand its efforts to rescue nutritious food from ending up in landfills and redistribute it to people struggling with food insecurity.

The funding comes from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which is funded through the California’s Cap and Trade program and supports projects throughout the state that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Congratulations to Feeding San Diego, and thank you for your incredible work.

CalSavers Open for Business

CalSavers, California’s new program to help workers save money for retirement, is now open for businesses to register.

CalSavers was created by Senate Bill 1234, which passed in 2016. Under state law, businesses with five or more employees must offer a retirement savings plan – either by sponsoring their own plan or by joining CalSavers.

If your employer registers, you will be automatically signed up for the program’s standard savings plan, or you can customize your own plan. And you can opt out at any time, and then opt back in if you change your mind. And it’s portable – your account remains active if you switch jobs.

Businesses that have more than 100 employees and don’t offer a retirement plan must register by June 30, 2020. Those with 51 to 100 employees much register by June 30, 2021. Those with five to 50 employees have until June 2022.

For details, please visit www.calsavers.com.

Get Covered!

Every fall, Covered California – our state’s health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act – opens its doors to new enrollees for the following year.

The open-enrollment period begins on October 15 and continues until January.

If you need insurance for 2020, or would like to compare plans, please visit www.coveredca.com.

Social Media Corner


My Staff at Your Service

My district staff is always available to help constituents navigate a complex web of state agencies. 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 District Representative
Toni Duran: District Representative
Chevelle Tate: District Representative
Diana Lara: District Representative
Miller Saltzman: District Representative
Tylisa Suseberry: District 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

I was thrilled to join the Diamond Business Association for the 5th Annual Diamond Street Festival - what a fabulous community event! 


I loved kicking off the San Diego LGBT Community Center’s 30th Annual AIDS Walk, where the energy was palpable! Thanks to all who came out to support our HIV / AIDS programs.


I was honored to attend the Center for Justice and Reconciliation’s Hope Rising event and recognize members of our community who are making a difference in the lives of human-trafficking survivors..


I enjoyed touring the high-performing O’Farrell Charter School and speaking to some of its very impressive students.


It was a pleasure to join the Pacific Beach Town Council in honoring our community’s police, firefighters, lifeguards, park rangers, and park maintenance staff who are always ready to handle any challenge thrown their way.


What a fun time it was in “Margaritaville” as we celebrated the great work of South Bay Community Services!