Legislative Update – December 16

In case you haven’t heard, San Diego has a new professional women’s soccer team. This week, Wave FC announced they signed Alex Morgan (Olympic gold medalist, 2x World Cup champion, you know the one). She’ll join former USWNT head coach Jill Ellis and teammate Abby Dahlkemper right here in our backyard for the spring 2022 season. If you can’t tell – the Chamber staff soccer fans are very happy.

Business News

Construction has officially begun on the new Terminal 1 at the San Diego International Airport, and is expected to be completed by late 2023. Earlier this week, elected leaders came together to commemorate the start of this project that will bring an even better experience for travelers. Imagine the pre-boarding fun before future delegation trips in our snazzy new terminal….

Pfizer announced that their COVID-19 pill is effective against the omicron variant based on results of a 2,250-person study. While the FDA still needs to determine authorization of the pill, President Biden placed an order of the pills for 10 million Americans. If authorized, it would be the first COVID-19 treatment that could be picked up at a pharmacy or taken at home.

Legislative Updates


The US Supreme Court is going to pass on hearing an environmental challenge (which we in San Diego are very familiar with) on immigration. Ranchers and environmental advocates have said that DHS policies on immigration including DACA violate NEPA (federal version of CEQA). The suit was originally brought in 2016 and has finally made its way to its end, at the Supreme Court.

President Biden signed a bill raising the debt limit by $2.5 trillion. On Tuesday, the Senate passed the bill 50-49, and the house later voted 221-209 to pass the bill. The federal government now has until 2023 to avoid defaulting on its debt.

On Wednesday, the Senate passed the final NDAA 89-10. The $770 billion bill includes $28 billion for nuclear weapons programs, a 2.7% pay increase for servicemembers and DoD employees, measures to prevent sexual assault and much much more. Here’s an overview of major provisions, and what didn’t make the final cut.

Build Back Better, but also later. Looks like things sort of unraveled  as negotiations in the Senate couldn’t get to a vote on the President’s big spending bill.

Inflation: it’s only cool for pool floaties. But, because inflation rates are causing some real heartburn, the Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that there are three rate hikes on deck for 2022. Upon hearing the news, the Dow Jones and the S&P turned positive.

The EPA announced the appointment of Martha Guzman as the agency’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. With her extensive portfolio as a Commissioner at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and leadership on issues for disadvantaged communities, Guzman will lead the implementation of the Biden-Harris environmental agenda in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and 148 Tribal Nations.

$4.1 trillion. That’s how much we spent on healthcare in 2020. That uptick was mostly due to, duh, COVID-19 and the necessary response. But it says a lot about how we’re reprioritizing health care and how we’re likely going to keep spending more money.

So long, Internet Association. The once trade association giant has announced it will close its doors at the end of the year. Good breakdown about why that’s the case here, but the short version: things got complicated.

The IRS’ holiday spirit is slated to end. More specifically, the rule that allowed non-itemized tax filers to deduct up to $300 in non-profit donations from their taxes ($600 for you married folks), is termed at the end of this year. So, let’s go scrooge, spread the wealth.

You better Belize it! Michelle Kwan has been nominated to be the ambassador to Belize. There’s no real rhyme or reason as to why Belize. Or why a figure skating phenom, but we’re into it.


Two Brazilian politicians had been arguing over a waterpark project for months and decided to settle the dispute in a three-round MMA-style fight. Yes, of course it was live-streamed on Facebook. It is still unclear how the fight will impact the waterpark project though.

Foreign born truck drivers crossing into the U.S. and Canada will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting January. Truck drivers were previously classified as essential workers and exempt from crossing restrictions and requirements for “non-essential” travelers. The vaccine mandate will not apply to U.S. citizens or permanent residents re-entering the U.S.

Italy is making headlines after a Bishop told children there is no Santa Claus (che cosa?!). He also went after Coca-Cola for making up Santa’s red costume. Parents across Italy were livid, and the Catholic diocese publicly apologized on social media shortly after.

Our USMCA partners are not happy with the potential inclusion of an enhanced tax credit for labor-union-produced electric vehicles in the Build Back Better bill. In the strongest language to date from Canada, the country has formally threatened to impose retaliatory tariffs targeting a list of U.S. products including the auto sector. Both Mexico and Canada have expressed their concern that these provisions violate USMCA, with the proposal being equivalent to a 34% tariff on Canadian-assembled electric vehicles.

Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Marcelo Ebrard and Secretary of Security Rosa Rodriguez met with a U.S. delegation led by Ambassador Ken Salazar to launch the Bicentennial Understanding plan. The initiative proposes a new shared vision of security and regional collaboration and a comprehensive and long-term approach to guide future bilateral actions.

President Lopez Obrador visited our border region this week and held a press conference in Tijuana highlighting his commitment to address issues such as security and federal assistance for migrants. He stated that federal personnel and resources will be sent to the migrant camp at the San Ysidro land port of entry

The California-Mexico Border Relations Council held a meeting this week where representatives of California state agencies, the Baja State government, and the Mexican federal government shared updates on cross-border programs, initiatives, projects, and identified collaboration opportunities moving forward.

Last Call! Our partners at the San Diego World Trade Center are accepting applications up until December 17 for 15 small businesses to participate in its 6th year of its flagship export assistance program, MetroConnect. This flagship program provides small- and medium-sized companies with the resources necessary to engage in global markets.


This Monday, CDPH announced the indoor mask mandate will resume from December 15 through January 15 regardless of vaccination status. After that, health officials will determine further recommendations as needed. CDPH cites rising case rates after the Thanksgiving holiday, and anticipates cases to surge again following holiday travel. The new rules also apply to events with more than 1,000 people. Attendees will be required to show either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test within one day.

If you’re getting cranky because you heard San Francisco got a special exemption from the rules, well, the truth is they did. But here’s why: they already had pretty stringent masking rules in place, so the state basically said you can keep doin’ you just keep doin’ it. So they get some extra flexibility. And one thing largely missing from the twitter rants, um we mean comments, is that it’s not just San Francisco. It’s also Marin (Governor’s hometown) and Contra Costa.

CalOSHA readopted the revised Emergency Temporary Standards document that guides the employer response to COVID-19. Check out how this differs from the current rules here, or reach out to whatever Chamber staff person sent you this email. We’ve got ten days of review before it goes into effect.

Twitter and former President Trump are meeting in Court, as Trump argues that they won’t let him play on the playground anymore. Or, in legalese, has accused the web giant of censorship once he was ousted from the social media platform following the mayhem of January 6th. Originally attempted as a suit in Florida that was thrown out, it’s now a lawsuit in California which Twitter is also requesting be thrown out. Kind of, creepily, related is TRUTH Social which is the new social media/news hub that Trump is trying to get off the ground.

The California Department of Education has not garnered lots of positive news in the past few years. The latest hit? The department’s Superintendent of Equity was filled in 2020 by an individual who lives in and works in Pennsylvania. There’s been frustration around that as advocates point to lack of transparency in his hiring and what exactly he’s supposed to be doing without real boots on the ground time with California educators, parents, and students. Then again…. Zoom.

We’re not saying housing is impossible to afford…. But Bakersfield’s recent boom should tell us a little somethin’ about how people are making decisions. A great read on the fastest growing big city in California.

Elon Musk might be TIME’s person of the year, but California’s legislators are not stoked that his self-driving test runs are basically operating without a babysitter (did you see this video?) As Asm. Lena Gonzalez sent a letter to the DMV Director, who is supposed to be in charge of monitoring these tests and the data affiliated, asking WTF.

California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control allowed breweries and distilleries to temporarily ship products directly to consumers during the pandemic. The EO allowing that lifeline is expiring at the end of the year, and state legislation to make direct shipping permanent will be heard during the next session.

The state’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) is seeking applicants for their Cannabis Advisory Committee until January 14, 2022. The Committee’s role is to advise the department on policy and current regulations.

At this point, nervous energy is the most abundant form of renewable energy, after California’s Public Utilities Commission moved to significantly change the way rooftop solar is regulated across the state. Known as NEM 3.0, this new reform structure has solar industry advocates concerned.


Despite all you may have seen and heard about the victorious Measure E campaign of 2020 being revoked by a San Diego Superior Court judge this week, the city of San Diego is continuing to move forward with evaluating the five different bids to redevelop the Sports Arena site. Per the California Surplus Land Act, the city has until March 4 next year to select one (or none) of the five different visions for redeveloping the site.

Last Friday, the SANDAG Board of Directors approved the 2021 Regional Plan and directed staff to explore alternatives to the proposed road user charge within six months.

The San Diego Business Journal announced this year’s list of richest residents.

The ritual of the new Council President assigning their colleagues leadership roles of committees has occurred. You can see the list here, the list of appointments to outside organizations here, and you can glean whatever you’d like to from it.

REDISTRICTING – it’s finally over! First: The County’s Independent Redistricting Commission voted to approve the final five-district County map. The biggest changes were to ensure that District 1 is a minority-majority district, continue to keep El Cajon in District 2, ensure District 3 as a coastal district, add Spring Valley and Paradise Hills to District 4, and mostly maintain the current District 5.

Second: In addition, the San Diego Unified School District also approved a five subdistrict map and the changes ensure that there are majority-minority districts. Voters will now only select a candidate in their subdistrict in both the primary and general elections in the future.

Third: And last night, the City of San Diego’s Redistricting Commission finalized the nine district map in a 7-2 vote. Changes include: reuniting neighborhoods – such as Clairemont and Rancho Penasquitos –  that were previously split in 2011, increasing the AAPI vote in District 6, adding Pacific Beach to District 1, and redrawing Normal Heights, Adams North, Mount Hope, and part of Mountain View into District 9.

In less serious news, the demon fish from Finding Nemo washed up in Encinitas. More officially known as a Pacific football fish.

City of San Diego Development Services Department Reminder: December 17 is the last day to submit discretionary applications under the current system, as the new online permitting system will go live on December 20. Learn more about the new system and future customer webinars on how to apply here.

Here’s what happened at this week’s San Diego City Council and Committee hearings:

  • Approved 33 items in this year’s Land Development Code Update. Included in the update are streamlining the installation of 5G fiber optic equipment, incentivizing child care center expansion, and changing timing of payment of DIF’s.
  • On Tuesday, the San Diego City Council unanimously adopted Climate Resilient SD, a state-mandated plan to identify and mitigate local hazardous impacts of climate change.

Upcoming City Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The Housing Action Package to implement Mayor Todd Gloria’s Homes For All of Us initiative was heard at Planning Commission on December 16 and will now go to the Land Use & Housing Committee & City Council sometime in early 2022. Included in this package are SB 9 implementation and revisions to current ADU regulations. If you have any questions or feedback on the package, please contact Angeli Calinog.

Upcoming County Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The Planning Commission voted to continue the  vehicle miles traveled (VMT) update item to January 7, 2022. The Chamber continues to monitor how changes to the current policy and potential mitigation options could affect future development in the County. If you have any questions, please contact Angeli Calinog.

Upcoming Hearings

  • The SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on December 17.

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • The California Competes Grant guidelines for FY 2021-22 have now been posted. The application period will start on January 3, 2022 with $120 million available. More information can be found here in the coming weeks. Applications must be submitted by January 24.
  • 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 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.