Legislative Updates

The Chamber’s Policy Team will be compiling a comprehensive legislative update each Thursday. Those updates will be posted here each week. This page will also be updated on an as-needed basis with critical information as it becomes available.


April 3 

Update from the County of San Diego Public Health Officer regarding the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) for the San Diego region. Attached is Addendum 1 to the Order of the Health Officer, effective April 3, 2020 as of 12:00 a.m. Addendum 1 adds the following requirements to the existing Order of the Health Officer:

Effective 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2020:

  • All employees who may have contact with the public in any grocery store, pharmacy/drug store, convenience store, gas station, restaurant or other business establishment that serves food shall wear a cloth face covering as described in the California Department of Public Health Face Covering Guidance.
  • A cloth face covering:
    is a material that covers the nose and mouth
    can be secured to the head with ties or straps or simply wrapped around the lower face
    can be improvised from household items, such as bandanas, cloth napkins, scarves, t-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels
    DIY Face Coverings

No later than 12:00 a.m. on April 7, 2020:

  • All businesses that remain in operation in accordance with the Order and that allow members of the public to enter a facility must prepare and post a “Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol” on the form attached to the Order for each of their facilities open to the public in the county.
  • The Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol must be posted at or near the entrance of the relevant facility, and shall be easily viewable by the public and employees.
  • A copy of the Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol must also be provided to each employee performing work at the facility.
  • All businesses shall implement the Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol and provide evidence of its implementation to any authority enforcing this Order upon demand.
  • The Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol must ensure all required measures are implemented and must identify and require measures necessary to implement social distancing and sanitation at that facility.
  • If the measures identified and implemented are not effective in maintaining proper social distancing and sanitation, additional measures shall be identified and implemented or the facility shall be closed.
  • A fillable Social Distancing Protocol template can be found here and utilized to fulfill this requirement.

 

Cloth face coverings are strongly recommended for the general public, but there is no legal mandate for the general public at this time. Cloth face coverings are distinct and different from medical masks; they are not medical grade.

 


April 2 – Weekly Update

Federal

This week’s discussions have been focused on implementation of the CARES Package (including recently released direction from the Department of the Treasury on the Paycheck Protection Program for businesses and for lending institutions), as well as the possibility of fourth and fifth phases of economic aid.

International

The Mexican federal government ordered the suspension of non-essential activities for a 30 day period beginning March 30th. Essential industries and activities are similar to those identified as essential by the U.S. government and include medical services, public safety, public transportation, telecommunications and logistics, gas stations, energy and water, the food industry, financial services and tax collection, and agriculture. All qualifying businesses are still required to comply with health precautions, recommendations, and guidelines, such as observing social distancing and suspending meetings over 50 people.

In addition, all Mexican residents and visitors are to comply with “shelter at home” recommendations until April 30th, with the exception of essential labor activities. At-risk individuals–such as those over 60 years old, pregnant women, and those suffering from obesity, hypertension, and other diseases–are strongly encouraged to avoid leaving home at all.

Health screenings at major international airports have been strengthened.

The State of Baja is preparing for phase 3 implementation and designating the Ensenada, Mexicali, and Tijuana General Hospitals as centers for COVID-19 patients. Parks, beaches, and all commercial centers are closed except for grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses. Restaurant operations are limited to take-out or delivery. State fines for businesses partaking in price gouging have been increased to Mex$3 million.

Local authorities have implemented checkpoints around Tijuana and Mexicali to ensure adherence to the stay at home orders.

State 

Over the last week, Governor Newsom signed a series of executive orders. One prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent and bans law enforcement and courts from enforcing evictions through May 31st, similar to the policies enacted by the city and county. This state-wide order requires tenants to notify their landlord in writing no more than seven days after the rent comes due. The full text of this executive order can be found here. Note that many local cities and counties have implemented separate regulations prohibiting evictions. Individuals interested in pursuing rent relief are encouraged to check local regulations, in addition to those recently put in place by the Governor.

Another executive order bolstered health care staffing, and another directed at small business relief.  Businesses filing a tax return of less than $1 million will now have until July 31st to file their returns with CDTFA at the state. There are also departmentally-specific provisions, like those that waive continuing education requirements for some professions. More can be found here.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has published weekly unemployment numbers and corresponding analysis that members may find useful in thinking about the economic impact.

Last Friday, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued a directive to insurers to provide data on business interruption coverage. At the start of the coronavirus, the Chamber requested the Commissioner’s involvement in determining a supportive path forward for private businesses that will be unable to access their insurance policies. We are hopeful this is a positive start to his engagement on this topic.

Today, Governor Newsom highlighted a resource for individuals seeking employment called OnwardCA. OnwardCA is a program that was rapidly deployed by a broad coalition of companies, foundations, and individuals that want to assist those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This service is designed to help individuals access resources in their community (ie. groceries, child care, financial assistance, etc.) and help job seekers upskill, reskill, or refresh and find a new job.

Local

Late last week, the City gave a briefing on their financial standing. In short, the economic hit to the City’s finances is going to be significant, however it remains to be seen what the extent will be and what response City leadership will take.

The City has announced that they are extending the deadline to propose ballot measures from April 8th to May 1st due to the impacts of coronavirus. This is likely one of many steps that government officials will take with regard to the general election scheduled for November, as the federal government set aside significant amounts of money to assist localities in election adjustments assuming that the coronavirus will impact timing, outreach and possibly method of voting.

There is no City Council meeting on April 6th or 7th.

On Saturday, the County extended the existing Public Health Order. Originally set to expire on March 31, 2020, the Public Health Order is now extended indefinitely.

The County’s Public Health Officer announced two new orders addressing how cruise ships disembark. The first order, effective immediately, requires the Health Officer’s approval before any passenger or employee can disembark the cruise ship if anyone onboard has tested positive for COVID-19. This order also requires docked cruise ships to report any medical treatment for passengers or employees to the Health Officer and follow all directives set by the Health Officer. The second order, which went into effect on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, barred cruise ships from disembarking passengers or employees in the San Diego harbor. Cruise ships are allowed to dock to receive fuel and provisions, with approval from the Health officer, however, passengers and employees are not allowed to disembark.

Today, April 2nd, San Diego County issued new amendments to the Public Health Order that can be viewed here. Effective April 3rd at 12:00AM, the Public Health Officer recommends public compliance with the state’s guidance on facial coverings in addition to complying with the Governor’s Executive Order. Effective April 4th at 12:00AM workers who interact regularly with the public at businesses such as, grocery stores, pharmacies/drug stores, gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants and other businesses that serve food, will be required to wear face masks. Effective April 7th at 12:00AM, all essential businesses that remain in operation will be required to publicly post their protocols and procedures for social distancing and sanitation within their establishments. Employees must also receive a copy of the “Social Distancing and Sanitation Protocol”. The County has provided this fillable form that can be used to fulfill this requirement.

San Diego County will also require the closure of parking lots at recreational facilities and only allow passive recreation (no group activities like volleyball or basketball, etc.). This goes into effect April 3rd at 12:00AM.

The County Board of Supervisors will meet on Tuesday, April 7th. Due to the Governor’s Executive Order, in-person attendance is prohibited. Information on how to participate in the teleconference, view online, or submit comments can be found here.  The agenda and supporting documents are here.

Capital Opportunities & Resources for Small Businesses

  • NEW CARE Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan – The Federal Stimulus AKA Cares Act, which was approved by Congress last week, allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. A helpful summary of the program from the US Chamber of Commerce can be found here. Employers can begin applying for PPP Loans on Friday, April 3. More information on how to apply can be found here.
  • Federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to California small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). EIDLs offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Businesses can apply here. Contact Mike Sovacool, Deputy District Director, with questions about EIDLs or other SBA programs via phone (619-557-7250) or email (sovacool@sba.gov). More small business resources and loan guidance related to COVID-19 can be found on the SBS website here.
  • NEW Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund: Verizon created a $2.5 million fund to grant small businesses and nonprofits fill urgent finance gaps during this unprecedented health and financial crisis.  Approved applicants are eligible for grants of up to $10,000 that can be used for paying rent and utilities, meeting payroll, and other immediate operational costs. This program is being administered by LISC. More information on how to apply can be found here.
  • South County EDC Emergency Business Loan Program: The South County Economic Development Council (South County EDC) is offering a no-interest loan to eating establishments in South County in order to provide some economic relief during these difficult times. This small infusion of funds is intended to assist South County small restaurants to remain open and continue to provide meals during this national emergency. South County EDC will provide a one-time $5,000 no-interest loan with repayment due on April 1, 2021. At that time the entire loan amount will be due. Learn more about the grant here.
  • Businesses can also reach out to their nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which has developed the Small Business Survival Resources Guide to help business owners navigate through the chaos COVID-19 is having on our communities. SBDC can help with applying for relief, guiding you through available resources and assisting with cash flow concerns, supply-chain interruptions, workforce capacity, insurance coverage and more–all at no cost.
  • The State Treasurer’s Office has published this list of Federal, State, Local, Private, and Non-profit resources available to small businesses.

 


March 26 – Weekly Update

Federal Update

The House is expected to vote soon on phase III of the stimulus package, H.R. 748 following a 96-0 vote in favor from the Senate. The bill is extensive and represents the largest economic stimulus in recent history, including the actions taken in 2008 and 2009 to address the Great Recession. Coverage of the bill may be found here, and a Chamber analysis that hits on major points can be found here. Small Businesses may find this breakdown helpful.

On Monday, the Federal Housing Finance Authority published a press release announcing that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will be offering multifamily property owners mortgage forbearance if they agree to suspend all evictions for tenants unable to pay rent due to the coronavirus.

President Trump announced this week that he would delay the implementation of the REAL ID Act, which was scheduled to be in effect on October 1, 2020. The new in-effect date was announced this morning and is October 2021.

The Chamber has created a document summarizing HR 6201: The Families First Coronavirus Relief Package (FFCRA), signed by President Trump on March 18th. This document outlines the specific requirements targeted at employers. This document can be used as a guideline, but should not constitute legal or formal HR advice. You can view the document here and more information on the requirements of FFCRA can be found here

The Department of Labor has created this guide for employers and another for employees with regard to FFCRA. Feedback is also being accepted online at https://ffcra.ideascale.com through March 29th. 

International Update

On March 20, the Mexican and U.S. federal governments announced the suspension of all non-essential travel across our southern border to help control the spread of coronavirus. Examples of non-essential travel include tourism and recreation. Commercial trade and cargo will NOT be impacted. Our cross-border workforce performing essential operations will continue to have access to the ports of entry. These restrictions went into effect at 12:01 AM on Saturday, March 21.

Guidance on these new restrictions will follow the Federal Register Notice issued for the northern border, available here. However, CBP reports elements of the notice will not be overly prescriptive in order to provide officers discretion and flexibility in applying the guidance. Please visit the official DHS web and social media pages for official updates on port operations.

We recommend employers performing essential operations provide a letter or documentation for their workforce to help identify essential personnel at the ports of entry and in adherence to the State of California’s stay-at-home executive order.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a 50-state waiver to the Hours of Service Rule for commercial vehicle drivers transporting goods related to the COVID-19 outbreak. It will last until the end of the day on April 12 or until the end of the emergency. The full emergency declaration can be found here

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will approve on a case by case basis additional days for payment of estimated duties, taxes and fees on imports due to the COVID-19 emergency. Requests should be directed to the Office of Trade, Trade Policy and Programs at OTentrysummary@cbp.dhs.gov

Actions Taken by Mexico’s Government: Mexico’s federal government issued nation-wide recommendations that include observing social distance, avoiding crowds and unnecessary travel, and suspending events for over 100 people. President Lopez Obrador announced there will be an economic support package for SME’s and individuals in economic distress. This will include facilitating credit and financing opportunities for both SME’s and individuals that qualify.

The State of Baja closed bars, movie theatres, museums, event venues, churches, casinos, gyms, and strongly recommended residents stay home, avoid crowds, and suspend meetings of 10 or more people. In addition, Baja Governor Jaime Bonilla reiterated the federal order to suspend all non-essential travel across the border and added this should be the general rule for any travel within Mexico. In order to ensure uninterrupted water service, Governor Bonilla also called for local utilities to suspend late water payment penalties.

The State Commission for Consumer Protection (PROFECO) is working with local authorities to enforce regulations and penalize markets and companies that have increased the price of basic grocery items.

State Update

Last Thursday, the Governor issued a “stay home except for essential needs” Executive Order effective immediately and in place until further notice. The full Executive Order can be viewed here. More information on this policy can be viewed here.

The Department of Finance has issued a memo to the heads of all state agencies and departments advising them of the Department’s review of budget requests for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Simply put, departmental budgets will be reevaluated in the “context of a workload budget” reflecting the dramatically reduced economic activity in the state as a result of coronavirus. 

Californians now have until July 15 to file their income taxes. The State Franchise Tax Board has postponed the tax deadline due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More information on the extension here. Members of the state delegation are requesting County action to waive penalties for late payment for property taxes, as it is made clear that the authority to do so is a local one. The Chamber also sent a letter requesting the state revisit its discussions around using its authority to extend the property tax deadline similar to actions taken with regard to income taxes.

While the state legislature has been adjourned until April 13, it is increasingly unclear whether the legislature will return on or before that date. Instead, most information indicates that the legislature will be asked to limit legislation to coronavirus-specific bills, and a limited budget will go into effect. This will undoubtedly impact other Chamber priorities for 2020, such as housing production and childcare, but we believe is necessary to sufficiently tackle the myriad impacts of the virus.

On Wednesday evening, Governor Newsom announced that four of the nation’s largest banks, in addition to 200 state-chartered banks, have agreed to a 90-day grace period for mortgage payments by Californians who are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis without any impact on credit. More information on the announcement and details on how to apply for relief can be found here

Finally, late last week the Chamber signed on to a letter with over 30 other advocacy organizations urging the Governor to provide additional support to California’s small businesses during this unprecedented time. Specifically, the letter requested the State allocate $17 million of supplemental disaster appropriation funding to expand no-cost advising, training, and support for small businesses and establish and convene a COVID-19 Resiliency Taskforce to plan a long-term strategy for small business recovery. Read the letter here

Local Update

Yesterday, the City voted to approve a temporary moratorium on residential and commercial evictions for renters through May 31. The policy requires that renters provide landlords with documentation of loss of employment, substantial reduction in employment, loss of income, or increase in expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence of loss of income or increased expenses can be provided in the form of business records, bank statements, employer pay stubs, letter from employer, or copy of increased medical expenses. Tenants are required to notify their landlords on or before the day the rent is due and provide documentation within one week of notification. Please note that this is a rent deferral action, not rent forgiveness. Renters will have up to six months to pay landlords all unpaid rent. Included in this proposal is a request that City staff work with banks and lenders to halt foreclosures of properties whose owners are unable to make mortgage payments.

Additionally, the Council approved a motion to create a Small Business Relief Fund (SBRF) that will provide over $6 million worth of grants, forgivable loans, and low-interest loans to qualifying small businesses. Eligibility criteria include that the business employ 100 employees or fewer, be located within the City of San Diego and have a City of San Diego Business Tax Certificate, be operational for at least six months, and provide proof of economic hardship due to COVID-19. Once a complete application is submitted, the City estimates that qualified business owners will receive these funds within approximately 14 days. More information on the SBRF can be found here. The application portal will go live on Friday, March 27. 

On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors voted to defer fees from the Department of Environmental Health for restaurants and bars affected by orders related to coronavirus. This action allows for “annual food facility health permit fees, late fees, and plan check correction fees associated with plans submitted prior to March 1, 2020” to be deferred for up to six months.

The Board also voted to adopt a temporary moratorium on evictions (both residential and commercial) within the unincorporated areas of the County. 

Parks: This week, the state, county, and city temporarily closed parks to varying degrees. On Tuesday, the County amended its public health order allowing local jurisdictions and municipalities to shut down all public beaches if they could not enforce social distancing guidelines. Later that evening, Mayor Faulconer also announced the closure of all city beaches, parks, boardwalks, trails, bays, and lakes until further notice.

For any questions or needs that are directly related to your council office, you can access a list of San Diego City Council office direct contacts here. Find your city council district here.


March 25

Federal Update

The proposed stimulus package, S. 3458 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is pending at the federal level. The Chamber has put together a summary of key provisions.  **This bill has not yet been enacted, and this is only a summary of the draft legislation. Changes may occur, and this document will be updated accordingly**

Be aware of an increase in fraud schemes. During this time, it’s important to remind employees to verify the legitimacy of emails. The FBI has seen an increase in COVID-19 related phishing scams and malicious email attempts. More information can be found here


March 20

Today, the Mexican and U.S. federal governments announced the suspension of all non-essential travel across our southern border to help control the spread of coronavirus. Examples of non-essential travel include tourism and recreation. Commercial trade & cargo will NOT be impacted. Our cross-border workforce performing essential operations will continue to have access to the ports of entry. These restrictions go into effect at 00:01 Saturday, March 21.

Guidance on these new restrictions will follow the Federal Register Notice issued for the northern border, available here. However, CBP reports elements of the notice will not be overly prescriptive in order to provide officers discretion and flexibility in applying the guidance. Please visit the official DHS web and social media pages for official updates on port operations.

We recommend employers performing essential operations provide a letter or documentation for their workforce to help identify essential personnel at the ports of entry and in adherence to the State of California’s stay-at-home executive order.

State Update

On Thursday, March 19 the Governor issued a “stay home except for essential needs” Executive Order effective immediately and in place until further notice. Friday, March 20th the State’s Public Health Officer issued an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” guidance further clarifying the Executive Order.

 


March 19 – Weekly Update

Federal Update

Last week, an $8.3B package was signed by the President providing funds for research, public health programming, and small business loans, among other things.

Congress adopted HR 6201 the Families First Coronavirus Response Act on Wednesday. This bill mandates free testing and directs employers to provide expanded family medical leave and paid sick leave with some exceptions (businesses with over 500 employees, and businesses with under 50 employees). Chamber guidance on HR 6201 can be viewed here.

Pending at the federal level are other proposed stimulus packages and legislation. Most relevant is the possible $1T stimulus package that proposes $250 billion in direct payments and specific funds for private sector resiliency. A vote is not expected in the Senate until next week. This package will likely be the large, sweeping stimulus package being discussed and we will continue to keep you updated on developments. However, as of this morning, it would appear there will be a different bill proposed by House Democrats that has some similarities, but more sweeping impacts and higher price tag than the one developing in the Senate.

State Update

On Monday, the state adopted two measures which appropriate $500 million for COVID-19 relief, which could be matched by the Legislature to expand the action and request up to $1B. This funding will also ensure that public schools continue to receive funding from the state, despite physical closure.

Per the Governor’s formal State of Emergency declaration, the state’s provision against price gouging is in effect. Attorney General Bacerra’s statement can be found here.

The legislature convened until April 13th. While they can reconvene at the direction of legislative leadership should the need arise, the legislative timeline for the remainder of this session is unclear.

On Tuesday, Chamber staff submitted a letter to Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara asking that he weigh-in to provide direction to establish other channels of relief as we learn more about the likelihood of insurance plans covering, or not, claims from the business community. While we are awaiting direction, particularly in regard to business interruption insurance, today we received this notice from the Commissioner regarding a grace period for insurance payments. We will share any further responses or developments with you all.

The state’s Legislative Analyst has produced this publication regarding consideration to the state’s budget.

On Thursday, the Governor issued a “Stay home except for essential needs” Executive Order effective immediately and in place until further notice. The full Executive Order can be viewed here. More information on this policy can be viewed here.

Local Update 

On Tuesday, Council President Georgette Gomez and her colleagues adopted a list of suggestions for City residents and the business community. Among the suggestions were temporary moratoriums on evictions and utility shut-offs for small businesses under commercial leases and residents throughout the City (UT coverage here). The Chamber submitted feedback requesting that the Council consider a clear time limit on the proposal to ensure that a blanket policy is not enacted in perpetuity, creating significant adverse effects on the economy as a whole, that hardship be a requirement to qualify for relief, and that the City work to engage the state for additional funds for those property owners that would be required to absorb the income loss. Council’s vote reflected many of these points and thoughtful consideration of the shared economic burden of our current situation, which we are appreciative of. With an 8-1 vote in favor, Council voted to approve all emergency measures.

On Wednesday, Mayor Faulconer announced directives around small business relief. That announcement included: a $4 million in grants and loans to support small businesses, that will be a part of a larger Business Continuation Fund**; forgiveness periods for certain fees and penalties; and extended timeless for some projects. Chamber President & CEO Jerry Sanders joined the Mayor and Chris Cate for the announcement.

**Businesses can begin applying for the Business Continuation Fund as of Monday, March 23rd. Learn more here.

Resources for Small Businesses
The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to California small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Businesses can apply here. Contact Mike Sovacool, Deputy District Director, with questions about EIDLs or other SBA programs via phone (619-557-7250) or email (michael.sovacool@sba.gov). More small business resources and loan guidance related to COVID-19 can be found on the SBA website here.

The City of San Diego’s Small Business Relief Fund will begin accepting applications on Monday, March 23rd. Info can be found here.

Tip: Before applying for any disaster capital (from local, state, or federal funds), make sure your 2019 and prior year financial statements are in order. Then using that information and what we know today, do the best to forecast the impact the COVID-19 public health emergency will have on your sales.

Be sure to check your Business Interruption Insurance policy. This is a common part of your general commercial insurance. In particular, for the food and beverage industry, a government-mandated closure most likely will trigger the insurance.

Additionally, the State Treasurer’s Office has published this list of Federal, State, Local, Private, and Non-profit resources available to small businesses.

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