Newsletter: Essential California Week in Review: An abortion constitutional amendment heads for the ballot

A large crowd, many in green, march and hold signs as a woman raises her fist
Supporters of reproductive rights rally in downtown Los Angeles this week.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It is Saturday, July 2.

Here’s a look at the top stories of the last week

Voters to consider abortion constitutional amendment. California voters will decide in November whether the state Constitution should explicitly protect a person’s right to an abortion, and Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new efforts to solidify “California’s status as a reproductive safe haven for women.”

Newsom signs nation’s most sweeping law on single-use plastics. The legislation heads off a November ballot measure and puts California at the forefront of national efforts to eliminate polystyrene and other plastics that litter the environment and degrade into toxic particles.

Supreme Court rules on EPA and “Remain in Mexico” policy. The justices handed down more rulings this week, including one that sharply limits the Biden administration’s authority to restrict carbon pollution. The court also ruled that Biden could end a Trump-era immigration policy.

A bombshell Jan. 6 hearing. In a surprise hearing, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, delivered shocking testimony about then-President Trump’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021.

USC and UCLA will leave the Pac-12. On Thursday, USC and UCLA officially announced they are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten Conference, and college sports fans from coast to coast were forced to conjure up a vision that would have once seemed unthinkable.


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3 killed and dozens injured when Amtrak train from L.A. derails in Missouri. A federal official said the eight-car train was going about 90 mph when it struck a truck at a public crossing southwest of the rural town of Mendon at 12:42 p.m. Monday.

Plan to return Bruce’s Beach wins unanimous approval. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved an unprecedented plan to return the land to a Black family that had been run out of Manhattan Beach almost a century ago — paving the way for similar efforts.

Coronavirus in California is becoming much harder to avoid. Given the proliferation of ever-more-infectious Omicron subvariants, avoiding the coronavirus has become an increasingly tricky proposition. Still, experts say it’s not impossible.

Drought and bark beetles are killing the oldest trees on Earth. For thousands of years, bark beetles were held in check or eliminated by the harsh conditions where California’s mythic bristlecone pine trees evolved. Now climate change is throwing off the balance.

He’s fighting to end California’s ban on ferrets. Is time running out? it’s illegal to keep them as pets in California, a fact that has defined much of San Diego resident Pat Wright’s adult life. In nearly three decades of ferret activism, he has gone to jail, run for political office, lobbied legislators and more without success.

What does it take to light the Hollywood sign again? A dream, six big projectors and BET. June 24 marked the first lighting in years and the first time that images were projected onto the sign, turning it from a static symbol of Hollywood to a dynamic display of Black excellence.

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ICYMI, here are this week’s great reads

Her illegal abortion paved the way for Roe vs. Wade. In 1966, abortions were illegal in California and Cheryl Bryant was out of options. She and her now-husband Cliff Palmer could never have anticipated that the legal fight over her abortion would help lay the groundwork for Roe.

Families remain shattered a year after LAPD fireworks explosion. On June 30, 2021, the Los Angeles Police Department bomb squad botched the detonation of a fireworks cache discovered in a South L.A. backyard, injuring 17 people and displacing more than 80. The city rented them hotel rooms — meant to be a stopgap — but many remain unable to return home.

The man who played Hollywood. Producer Randall Emmett was poised to become a success. But behind the scenes, his empire was crumbling: court filings, records and interviews reveal lawsuits and mounting debts, as well as allegations of abuse against women, assistants and business partners. Amid it all, Emmett was working with Bruce Willis as the actor’s health declined.


A Korean man’s shocking killing and his daughter’s search for answers. Dal Keun Lee, 70, was sitting outside his South L.A. laundromat when a man stabbed him. To Cathy Lee, 40, her father’s killing was so random and vicious that it at first seemed like some bizarre nightmare. She feels his death is reflective of troubling patterns of crime and victimization, including the rise of anti-Asian attacks.

Today’s week-in-review newsletter was curated by Laura Blasey. Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to

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