Democrat Atkins sworn in as Assembly speaker

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Updated: 5/12 5:07 pm

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins has been sworn in as the 69th speaker of the state Assembly.

Atkins, who is 51, took the oath Monday during a ceremony that was attended by Gov. Jerry Brown. Her term in the 80-member house ends in two years.

She assumes the role amid negotiations over a nearly $107 billion state budget and an $11 billion water bond that all sides want to change before it goes to a vote in November.

Atkins grew up poor in Appalachia and implored lawmakers to remember the needs of low-income Californians. She identified homelessness and affordable housing as top priorities.

She is the first open lesbian to lead a California legislative chamber and succeeds Democrat John Perez, who was the first openly gay lawmaker in the role.

©2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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