Legislative Update – April 8 - SD Regional Chamber

Legislative Update – April 8

Great news came our way this week: if we can manage to keep our COVID rates low, a full reopening is planned for June 15th. Details are still forthcoming but we’ll make sure to keep you updated.

Also, other news: Caitlyn Jenner has opened an exploratory committee for Governor. There is a live search for monkeys on the loose in Cincinnati. There’s a national ketchup shortage.

Business News

The support keeps on coming! Thank you to all the businesses who have committed to the Time to Vaccinate campaign for their employees. To join the growing list of businesses and organizations who have taken the pledge, click here.

Orange you glad I didn’t say Banana?  San Diego County moved to the orange tier yesterday, April 7. This means a number of capacity increases for many businesses and activities, including the end of the 10 pm curfew for restaurants.

And SeaWorld has announced its thrill-seekers can return to their favorite rides and rollercoasters on April 12th. Reservations required!

Chamber member Clear announced a key partnership with the NBA which will allow all 30 teams to leverage the technology for use at their stadiums and (fingers crossed) return to 100% capacity.

You’re not imagining it: Housing inventory for sale is down 40% from last year. So, yes, that outdated house you looked at on Zillow with no toilets is actually going for $1.5M.

$$$$: The Shuttered Venue Operations Grant application opens TODAY. Learn more about eligibility requirements, application preparation and how to sign up for SBDC assistance here.

$$$$ The Restaurants Care Resilience Fund provides cash grants up to $3,500 and a year of support to small restaurants in 8 counties in California, including San Diego! The application will be open from April 11-18 and priority is given to women and people of color. An additional grant is available for restaurant workers, learn more here.

The San Diego County Vintners Association released their 2021 San Diego County Economic Impact of Wineries report. The report found that gross sales decreased 19.6% from last year, but the total number of wineries in the region increased to 150, and wine industry jobs increased by 2.6%.

Legislative Update


Federal:
 

President Biden announced he’s moving up his deadline for all US adults to be eligible for COVID vaccine to April 19 instead of the original deadline of May 1. He stated that these individuals will also have a vaccination site within five miles of where they live since the number of pharmacies participating in the federal vaccination program was increasing from the current 17,000 locations to 40,000.

Senator Chuck Schumer will be introducing a new marijuana legalization bill in the next couple of weeks with Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Recently, Schumer’s state of New York legalized marijuana use for adults and the Senator noted in his interview with Politico that he’ll be pushing it forward with or without President Biden’s support.

President Biden will outline investment priorities and provide details for his first budget request tomorrow, with a full budget proposal coming later this spring.

Speaking of money, the Biden infrastructure plan has initiated lobbying all over the country (and disagreement over what is actually included in the definition of “infrastructure”) and garnered significant pushback from the private sector who have concerns about the tax hikes included to pay for the plan. However, worth noting that the threshold for the 15% corporate tax rate is for companies earning over $2 billion (a big jump from the companies earning $100 million he campaigned on), and now the plan says that those companies can qualify for tax credits for research, renewable energy, and low-income housing.

President Biden also has the biggest-of-the-big companies (the world’s 100 biggest companies) on the lookout for a new tax proposal. The idea, in its most simple terms, is that companies with $20B or more in revenue would pay taxes in countries wherever they sell their goods or services. The proposal was sent to the heads of 130 other countries, and remains TBD.

On April 1, Governor Newsom wrote a letter to President Biden with six other Governors. Their ask? Roll back the SALT limit instituted by the Trump administration that hit high-earners in California particularly hard.

First Lady Jill Biden rolled out the next phase of her Joining Forces program, aimed at supporting military families. The initiative continues on work started with then First Lady Michelle Obama.

Don’t forget to enjoy some nature every now and then! National Park Week will be from April 17-25, with April 17 being a free-entry day.

International:

Egypt just held a real-life mummy parade through the streets of Cairo to celebrate the opening of its National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. Twentytwo royal mummies participated in the Pharaoh’s Golden Parade, which included Ramses II, performers dressed in ancient Egyptian costumes, and specially designed vehicles.

Our partners at the Wilson Center shared an updated infographic outlining the successes and challenges that the U.S., Mexico, and Canada face as COVID-19 vaccination continues. By the way, foreign travelers are now able to get the COVID-19 vaccine in some states including Texas and Arizona.

The Chamber joined the Border Trade Alliance and U.S. business leaders in urging the federal government to lift travel restrictions on non-essential travel at our land port of entry. These restrictions continue to harm our economy and border communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, especially impacting small businesses and our cross-border workforce across sectors.

As we continue to move toward economic recovery, we ask for your input on the financial implications of streamlined cross-border trade processing at land ports of entry for the business sector. Please take a few minutes to respond to an online survey with The George Washington University here.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai virtually met with Mexican Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier to discuss USMCA and the full implementation of Mexico’s labor reform. A coalition of U.S. trade associations and business groups had recently submitted a letter to the administration bringing attention to Mexico’s labor commitments under the new trilateral agreement. Ambassador Tai also met with Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade Mary Ng, and the three North American officials agreed to pursue a USMCA Free Trade Commission meeting in the near future.

Business leaders from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada urged their governments to fully implement USMCA and focus on enhancing a coordinated North American pandemic response and North American competitiveness.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has introduced Simplified Arrival at all of the pedestrian border crossings in the Rio Grande Valley ports of entry. The enhanced arrival process uses biometric facial comparison technology to automate the manual document checks currently in place. CBP officers will now be able to match the traveler’s passport photo from online government files and help speed up international arrival processing.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host a public scoping meeting on April 20th at 6:00pm as the agency works on an environmental impact statement for a list of 10 projects that would reduce transboundary pollution impacting the Tijuana River Valley in our region. Written comments may be submitted to the EPA by May 20th to Tijuana-Transboundary-EIS@epa.gov.

Tijuana Mayor Karla Ruiz announced the Tijuana Interurban Train project which will strengthen and modernize the local transportation infrastructure. The system will cover more than 25 kilometers connecting the cities of Tijuana and Tecate, and benefit over thirty-thousand passengers daily including our cross-border workforce.

Baja’s Manufacturing Association (INDEX) will host a webinar on ally-shoring operations on Thursday, April 15 at 8:00am. The conversation will cover a broad range of topics including ally-sharing and the maquiladora shelter model and supply chain business opportunities for North American companies. The event is free but registration is required.

State:

On Tuesday, Governor Newsom announced that the economy will reopen on June 15, as long as vaccine supply is sufficient for those over 16 years old and hospitalization rates are stable and low. This would mean an end to the color coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy, with a mask mandate still in place. Newsom has said that the state could bring back restrictions depending on hospitalizations and vaccine rates.

The state has reached its 4 million vaccination target for individuals living in the Vaccine Equity Quartile, and has administered over 20 million vaccines overall. California currently has the lowest positivity rate in the country.

The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office is reporting good news: a higher number than expected new businesses were created in the first quarter, particularly in March.

Go-Biz has announced its Source Diverse Source Local pledge campaign, with the office of the Small Business Advocate. The goal is to develop “strategic programming and partnerships to strengthen a network of corporate and government supply chain opportunities.”

Deadline approaching: per state law, employers who do NOT offer retirement benefits for their workforce are required to provide access to CalSavers (a state sponsored retirement account) for their employees. The deadline for businesses with 50 or more employees is June 30, 2021.

La Mesa City Councilmember Dr. Akilah Weber is currently surpassing the majority needed to fill the 79th Assembly District seat. If Dr. Weber remains over 50%, she will win the special election and no run-off will be needed. Voting results must be certified on April 15.

And while we are on the topic of elections: there’s a minor (okay probably not minor) crisis ahead: the timing for the state to receive census data, which is necessary for the redistricting process, is painfully behind schedule. Worst case scenario would be the June 7 (2022) primary must be postponed, which would require an act of the legislature.

Local:

Convention Center modernization is a GO. Following a vote of 6-3, the San Diego City Council voted to declare Measure C successful as it garnered over 50% of the vote, and has asked the City Attorney to file a validation suit.

Business is Brewing. The City of San Diego has launched a website to provide breweries in San Diego with market information and resources to support and grow their businesses.

On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council voted to pass an emergency ordinance that will provide relief for police-regulated operations and businesses by deferring fees and renewing permits. Thank you, Councilmember Whitburn!

Don’t throw away your shot! Reminder that vaccine eligibility will be open to ages 16+ beginning April 15. As of April 7, over 39% of eligible San Diegans have received the first dose and over 23% are fully vaccinated.

How will Biden’s infrastructure plan affect San Diego? Listen to SANDAG director Hasan Ikhrata discuss how the plan aligns with San Diego’s transportation goals in this week’s KPBS Midday Edition.

The Board of Supervisors had a busy week this week and took action on the following items:

  • Eviction Protections & Rent Protections: The majority of the Supervisors (3-2 vote) supported eviction protections that go further to protect tenants than state law and limits rent increases until July 1. The ordinance requires a second vote on May 4th to take effect.
  • Department of Homeless Solution and Equitable Communities: Supervisors unanimously voted for a policy to create a department that will streamline and increase services, and adopted guiding principles.
  • Housing Element’s RHNA Site Inventory: Supervisors directed staff to pursue option #1 (sites without rezone) with the modification to exclude 11 sites outside of VMT (vehicle miles travelled) efficient areas.
  • Fees: Supervisors unanimously voted to support an average 5% increase across the board in land development cost recovery fees. They also voted not to increase DEHQ fees, which have a significant impact on restaurants, and to waive event industry fees this year.

On April 27, we are joining Biocom California and Downtown San Diego Partnership to bring together life science companies, developers, and academics to talk about why now is the right time for life science to locate downtown. Register here for this free event.

Congressman Levin is holding another virtual town hall tonight at 7 pm to discuss the American Rescue Plan, his work in Congress, and COVID-19. UCSD Epidemiologist Dr. Andrea LaCroix will join to answer questions about COVID-19 and vaccines. RSVP here.

SDMAC will be holding their next virtual town hall meeting with Mayor Todd Gloria on April 21. He’ll be answering questions about his “Back to Work San Diego” plan, priorities to address homelessness and housing, and the redevelopment of NAVWAR in the Midway District. Register here.

Speaking of the Midway District, the redevelopment of the Sports Arena is being held up by new state regulations relating to the priority development of affordable housing.

UC San Diego and SDSU have announced plans to return to in-person classes for the fall. San Diego Unified is already moving to in person learning, with half of their students expected to return to the classroom next week, and the hope of parents throughout San Diego dangling by a thread.

Upcoming Hearings

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • Round SIX of GO-Biz grants opens April 28th. Details here… AND webinars explaining how to apply and how it works here. Round FIVE notifications began April 5th.
  • The CARES Act Revolving Loan Fund provides assistance for eligible expenses to businesses in the City of San Diego and City of Chula VIsta impacted by the pandemic.
  • The San Diego Housing Commission, along with the assistance of many Community Based Organizations, is administering the City of San Diego’s 2021 COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program is open as of March 15, 2021.
  • Apply for your first or second PPP Loan now! Learn more here.
  • City of Oceanside COVID-19 small business grant program: Small businesses able to demonstrate a loss in profit caused by the COVID crisis can qualify for a grant of $1,000 to $7,5000. Learn more and apply here.
  • The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is accepting applications for a small business hiring credit against California state income taxes or sales and use taxes. The credit (authorized by SB 1447) is available to certain California qualified small business employers that receive a tentative credit reservation. Learn more here.
  • The California Rebuilding Fund is offering small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees loans up to $100,000. Learn more and apply here.
  • The County’s Small Business Stimulus Grant Program is accepting additional applications. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 100 full-time employees and are following sectors (restaurant, gym fitness center, yoga studio, movie theater, museum, zoo, or aquarium) that were impacted by moving from the Red to Purple Tier OR part of the event industry. Learn more and apply here.
  • City of San Diego Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit – Businesses (restaurants, retail stores, gyms, hair salons, nail salons) can now expand into the public right-of-way, parking lots, and public spaces. Information on how to apply for a Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit can be found here.
  • Businesses can 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.
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