Welcome to 2023! Another New Year’s Eve has come and gone, the party dishes are in the dishwasher and the noisemakers have all been put away. Except for the two noisemakers under my feet right now, demanding breakfast, which I know they already ate. We’ll go for a New Year’s Day walk soon—that will be a good chance for Mia and Joey to burn off their extra goodies and for me to think and plan for all that lies ahead in this exciting new year.
First up is a return to the Capitol and moving forward with the new and returning Senators who were sworn in last month. It was so nice to see legislators and their families enjoying that special day—really the first time we’ve been able to have a ceremony like that since COVID. Part of that first session, what we refer to as the “organizational session,” included the election of officers, and I am very proud to have been once again elected by my colleagues to serve as President pro Tempore of the Senate. This is an honor I cherish deeply, and I will continue to work in this position to make things better for the people of the 39th Senate District and the people of California.
In mid-January, the Capitol always has several events to honor the birth, life, and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As California continues our decades-long challenges with affordable housing and homelessness, I always remember the great vision MLK showed in making housing an important part of his roadmap to a more equitable future. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act—which became law soon after Dr. King’s assassination— focuses on fair housing, and while it is 55 years later, it is a stain on our society that there is still so much to do in this area. That is why the Senate Democratic Caucus and I will continue to view housing policy through a lens of equity.
On January 22, I expect there will be people all over the country stepping up and speaking out about another anniversary—the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. When the protections in Roe v. Wade were demolished by the Supreme Court , it triggered a response unlike anything I’ve experienced in politics.
As part of that response, California’s abortion rights are, for now, stronger than ever—though the threat remains and we will continue to take action however best we can. Last month, SCA 10 officially became part of our state’s highest law, enshrining in our state constitution the fundamental right to access abortion and to choose or refuse contraception. I was proud to author SCA 10, which went before voters on the ballot as Proposition 1, and was pleased to see an overwhelming number of Californians support this protection of our most basic of rights.
Two other 2023 updates on this important front: SB 1375, my bill to allow California’s Nurse Practitioners to perform first trimester abortion services within the scope of their license without physician supervision, goes into effect, as does SB 24, which I was proud to co-author with former Senator Connie Leyva, to ensure access to medication abortion on UC and CSU campuses.
After the grinding years we’ve all just gone through, I have to say I do feel a sense of hope, optimism, and resolve increasing all over the place. There are still great challenges ahead, from growing extremism, to climate, to housing, but I’m noticing more of a willingness among reasonable people and politicians to come together when it matters. We need more of that—and I hope I will have much progress to share in the next editions of the newsletter.
Thanks for reading. Here’s to a great 2023!
Last month, California witnessed history as Vice President Kamala Harris swore in my friend, Karen Bass, as Mayor of Los Angeles – the first woman and second Black person to hold the city’s top job. While history was the headline that day, L.A.’s future was the focus.
With Mayor Bass at the helm, Angelenos have a leader who is ready to work tirelessly for and with them to take on the region’s toughest challenges and unite people from all walks of life. Over the course of a decades-long career that spans health care, community organizing, and courageous lawmaking, Karen has demonstrated that she will always show up for her community. I have no doubt that in this new role she will continue to be the loyal, caring, dedicated, and selfless public servant that L.A. needs.
It was an honor to join Mayor Bass and leaders from across the state to celebrate history made and a future that shines very bright.
‘Tis the season for Covered California open enrollment! You have until January 31 to enroll in health insurance that begins February 1. Find out more about your eligibility, options, financial assistance, and how to sign up at CoveredCA.com.
It was a joy to join PATH Partners, Christie’s Place, and POZabilities to help provide groceries and essentials to folks in need this holiday season. The special day was made possible in part by generous donations from California American Water, PepsiCo, and General Motors.
Team Toni teamed up with Home Start Inc. to deliver gifts and holiday cheer to local families through their annual Adopt-a-Family program and Toy Drive last month.
For 10 years, Covered California has been a nationwide leader in ensuring access to affordable, quality health care, and has helped California close health equity gaps. It was great to join (from left) Myra Sepulveda Buby, Family Health Centers Mental Health Director; Jessica Altman, Covered California CEO; Supervisor Nathan Fletcher; and Cathryn Nacario, NAMI San Diego CEO to celebrate this milestone and encourage San Diegans to sign up for health coverage before open enrollment closes on January 31.
Nicole Murray Ramirez is a tireless advocate for San Diego’s LGBTQ community and has dedicated his life to our city’s LGBTQ+ organizations. I was pleased to stand with him on his birthday at the unveiling of Honorary Nicole Murray Ramirez Way!
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