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Toni Atkins vows to enshrine a woman’s right to choose in California

 May 6, 2022 at 4:29 PM PDT

S1: California lawmakers work to ensure abortion rights.
S2: This is a call to action not just in California , but across the country.
S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS Midday Edition. We speak with State Senate President Tony Atkins on abortion rights and the California budget.
S2: It isn't just gas , it's consumer goods , it's the cost and inflation. So our goal would be to try to provide resources to Californians who are struggling right now as soon as we possibly could.
S1: And photography exhibits are the focus of our weekend preview. That's ahead on Midday Edition. State lawmakers have come out in force this week to voice their support for abortion rights in California. The leaked Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v Wade has galvanized pro-choice sentiments across the state. In addition to a package of 13 new bills aimed at strengthening reproductive rights , there's now a push for a state constitutional amendment and training a woman's right to choose. In California , State Senate President Toni Atkins from San Diego has been in the forefront of many of those efforts , and that's in addition to some ambitious budget proposals that would secure a cash rebate for Californians and expand social services. Joining me now is Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins. And welcome to the program.
S2: Well , thanks , Maureen. It's always good to talk with you.
S1: Now , at a press conference you held on Tuesday reacting to the leaked Supreme Court ruling , you said we've been here before and we know where this leads.
S2: And I met a number of women who didn't have access always to abortion services. And we know where it leads. Women will die. Women will not be able to access services in parts of the country. And it's even been difficult in parts of California where there aren't enough providers. So it overall hurts women and our families related to our own health care , whether it's maternal health or accessing abortion. We know that with lack of access and lack of choices , it drastically changes the lives of women.
S1: Now , California has been preparing to secure abortion rights in the state for some time. Can you give us an idea of what the legislature has already done.
S2: Back in the fall when we became aware of the law in Texas as well as the Mississippi case ? We felt like we needed to assess our foundational health care structure to make sure that we were prepared for what might come , which is more women coming from other parts of the country who couldn't access abortion in their own home states. So Planned Parenthood and a group of more than 40 other stakeholders doctors , health advocates , nurses , a number of groups , health advocacy groups convened in the fall to talk about how we would strengthen our ability to provide services to our own residents , as well as to those who would ultimately be traveling to California. So the future of abortion counsel came into being. They made more than 45 recommendations to the governor and to the legislature in particular , some budget action , some legislation. And the outcome of that was probably almost 15 pieces of legislation by members of the Women's Legislative Caucus , and , of course , a number of budget asked through the budget process and to the governor. So what you see now is bills working their way through both the Assembly and the Senate. And then , of course , you saw earlier this week on Tuesday , we stated that we would be doing a constitutional amendment to make sure that the right to abortion is actually specifically called out in our California Constitution. Yeah.
S1: Yeah.
S2: It takes a two thirds vote of both houses , the Senate and the Assembly , and then it would be basically on the ballot. Our goal is November , where it would take a majority vote of Californians to put this into our Constitution.
S1: San Diego Assemblywoman Akilah Weber is proposal along with others , would provide free access to abortion to all California women and women who come here from other states.
S2: This is a call to action. What is going to happen in not just California , but across the country ? It's going to strain our ability to provide services. If you have more clients who need to access the service. But I would also point out in terms of the resources and money. California already provides access to abortion through our medical system for those who are seeking abortion services in California. California residents. And so this would just build upon a fund that we've always had. There's more than 80 funds across the country. I know of multiple funds in California that have been available since the days that I ran a clinic where women in the state and out of the state could access those funds to help pay for the cost of an abortion.
S1: I'd like to pivot and talk of. About the state budget. Now , last week , Senate Democrats unveiled a spending plan that included a cash rebate for Californians.
S2: Obviously , there's a bigger budget that we're talking about that has to go through our budget process. But we proposed what we have called the Better for Families rebate proposal , and that would be a $200 refund for every taxpayer and dependent in single filing households with less than 125,000 in taxable income. The cost will be about $8 billion. That's less than the proposal and solution that the governor put forward. But it's an equitable solution. Everyone is affected by the cost of gasoline. It isn't just gas. It's consumer goods. It's the cost and inflation. So our goal would be to try to provide resources to Californians who are struggling right now as soon as we possibly could. And so that would be the framework of our proposal to refund every taxpayer. Of course , if you have dependents , you could receive additional $200 , though it could it could be a good significant rebate for Californians , and it would cover about 90% of taxpayers in California as opposed to being vehicle based , which was the governor's proposal.
S1: Now , the Senates cash rebate proposal would cost about $8 billion , is what I read. But the amount of the budget surplus California is looking at this year is incredible. It's estimated now at 68 billion.
S2: We have a huge tab of unemployment insurance that we have to repay , and that comes from businesses. Businesses have to pay for what we've gone through in the last several years. We want to make sure that as we are also looking to support struggling Californians , our businesses have struggled , particularly our small businesses. So there's recommendations for how to support small business through extended grant programs in addition to the unemployment insurance , and prepaying that to support small business. There is additional dollars for K through 12 education through prop 98. There will be additional resources for higher education housing. We continue to struggle with homelessness and production of housing. So you're going to see recommendations that help us with production , but also help us with affordability. Help us with workforce issues around trying to solve the homelessness problem. We have seen the numbers increase on our streets downtown. We want to be able to provide the support to address that problem. But a bigger issue , which I'm pretty excited about , to be able to use money to actually make a difference. And a lot of that is going to be related to climate drought , how we address fire prevention and sustainability in our communities. And so that's going to mean additional money to help us combat climate.
S1: I want to go back to the cash reserves and spending for just a minute. One of the biggest economic worries right now is inflation. And , of course , the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to try to cool off rising prices.
S2: And I think that it makes sense that if there is a surplus in reserve , that we are balanced in what we do at the state level. And so when we talk about investments in climate , investments in health care and education , we know that people are hurting right now. The cost of housing , the cost of consumer goods , gasoline , obviously is front and center , which is why everyone's talking about rebates related to gasoline due to the fact that we put a lot of our gas tax money , actually , all of it based on the proposition we passed several years ago to address infrastructure , you are going to see a good amount of money going into infrastructure improvements , something we haven't been able to do in California for decades , whether we're talking about deferred maintenance on our colleges , university campuses , our K through 12 campuses , community colleges. And so I think that we want to be prudent with the money that we spend because we know that it will not we will not always have these kinds of resources. So we need to invest in things that will be long term. We are very cognizant of maintaining fiscal prudence and responsibility even as we spend money on infrastructure.
S2: But it takes three parties to negotiate. The governor , the speaker and I and we had hope to be able to do this well before the budget process , which we are in right now , may into the beginning of June. So. I still have hopes that we'll be able to do this as soon as possible and that , if not in the coming couple of weeks , we're able to do it through the budget process. And then it's a matter of getting the money out to people as quickly as we can. That would be my goal. I do think this is a matter of urgency. I wish we had been able to act before now. My goal is to try and get this done as soon as possible.
S1: I've been speaking with the Senate President Pro Tem , Toni Atkins. Thank you so much for your time and thank you for speaking with us.
S2: MURRAY Thank you.
S1: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. In our weekend preview , we have sound immersion , the ballet and lots of photography. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. And welcome , Julia.
S3: Hi , Maureen. Thanks for having me.
S1: At the Oceanside Museum of Art tonight is music at the museum. And this time it's inspired by the Street Photography Exhibition currently on View.
S3: It starts at 5:00 tonight. And access to the museum , Oceanside Museum of Art is free tonight. This event is anchored in the Oceanside Unfiltered Street Photography exhibition. And if you haven't seen that yet , it closes at the end of this month. So do it now. And also opening this weekend is the new Shin Pei Takeda exhibition. It's called Limit of Your Safe Space. Somehow , Takeda is a border artist living in Tijuana , but also in Germany and was born in Japan. He's known for his massive immersive sculptures , and there will be plenty of that in this installation. But it's also the result of the set of workshops that he ran with this small group of refugees , immigrants and veterans. They all explored stories of their own safe spaces and safe passages. And Takeda has built what he's calling this mixed reality world. So it's with augmented reality and then this physical built environment all based on those stories. And as for the outdoor element of this event , the members only car club will have their lowriders parked outside and they'll be food and beer and wine. The event itself is free , but you can RSVP in advance in case they reach capacity. You can also buy drink tickets in advance to save time in the bar lane. They're having street dance freestyle performances from Wild seven freestyle crew. Deejay Grant will play some sets and Oceanside rapper Desi Harlow's performing , who just put out a new album , One Nation Under the Funk. And this is the opening track Roll Through , and it has a really great video that just came out last week. What we're doing and not.
S4: McCUTCHEON editor says. On game day.
S1: That's rolled through by Desi Hollo , who will perform at music at the museum , at the Oceanside Museum of Art tonight at five. Now , let's stick with photography in La Hoya. The Joseph Bellows Gallery opens a new exhibition tonight of some of San Diego's best photographers. The exhibition is called San Diego Views.
S3: This is their vision , their view. And the show is based on a portfolio that was published two years ago. It has work by Philip Shultz , written Rebecca Webb , Michael Molino , John Hogan Hanson and so many more. And it's also timed to coincide with the Medium Festival photography , which is already underway in San Diego. And for some examples , I love John Hogan's work where he takes these really beautiful landscapes with people in them. Usually it's his friends and family hiking or on camping trips , or it's sometimes people who are working in or working with the land. And then he cuts the people out and replaces them with this thick , sometimes glittery resin substitute. And I also really love the way Rebecca Webb uses our regional wild spaces. She's often bringing in these structures and wispy fabrics to set against mountains or against the horizon. Michael Mono recently had his work on View in the gallery , and he works with a lot of neighborhood photography. So the sides of nondescript and sometimes crumbling buildings , factories or or homes and the older suburbs in San Diego. And the reception for the show is this evening. It's from 5 to 8 , and the gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 to 5 or by appointment. And this one will be on view through June 10th.
S1: And an art produce in North Park. There's a chance to experience a sound immersion installation.
S3: He's installed this 2018 work. The Omni Echo and a noise created inside the Omni Echo will theoretically reverberate forever. So you could immerse yourself in the echo of a single note , or you could harmonize with yourself until you've made this kind of wall of sound , or even just bathe in the ambient noise. And this is on view through May 15th and it's free. And the public hours are Thursday through Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to five. This is in the cooler room at Art Produce , so it's in the back and you can access it by entering through the garden gates off of Hermann Avenue. So it's just around the corner from the front door of Art Produce on University.
S1: City Ballet of San Diego performs their production of Don Quixote this weekend.
S3: It comes from reading too many novels , and he sets off on this quest with a sidekick to save the world. And this ballet was famously choreographed by Marius Petipa in 1869. And this is City Ballet resident choreographer Elizabeth Westrick. His take on that this production is really indulgently theatrical. There's lots of big costumes. It's classical ballet , there's some duels , fairies , you name it. And this is also being performed with live music. The City Ballet Orchestra will be performing is that the California Center for the Arts Escondido stage with just two performances Saturday at eight and Sunday afternoon at 2:00.
S1: You can find more details on Don Quixote , as well as everything we've discussed at KPBS Mortgage Arts. And while you're there , you can sign up for Julio's weekly KPBS Arts newsletter. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans. And Julia , thank you very much.
S3: Thank you , Maureen. Have a good weekend.

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State lawmakers have come out in force this week to voice their support for abortion rights in California. In addition to a package of 13 new bills aimed at strengthening reproductive rights, there’s now a push for a state constitutional amendment enshrining a woman’s right to choose in California. State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins from San Diego has been in the forefront of many of those efforts. Plus, in this weekend arts preview, we have sound immersion, the ballet and lots of photography.