Legislative Update – February 25

 February 25 – Weekly Update

Pop the champagne, spread the news, the kids are going back to school! San Diego Unified announced on Tuesday that they’ve set a return to the classroom for April 12. And moments ago, the state announced it’s decided to follow San Diego’s lead. Newsom announced they’ll have specific access to vaccines for teachers to get expedited appointments (so long as they are already working in person or scheduled to return to work within 21 days). There’s also rumors that big changes might be coming to the state’s tier system next week… Of course, if anything is announced you’ll be able to find it here, in your favorite email of the week.

Nasa’s rover touched down on Mars last week. Check out the first images from Perseverance, a welcome distraction from pandemic life here on earth.

Business News

New event alert! We’re transitioning our Small Business Roundtable Committee to a quarterly webinar series open to all Chamber members. During these challenging times, it’s critical that our small businesses receive the most up to date information on changing regulations, upcoming legislation and capital opportunities. We hope you’ll join us on Tuesday, March 16 from 9-10:30 am. RSVP here.

Chamber member California Coast Credit Union recently entered a five year partnership with the City of San Diego. The partnership will help fund multiple initiatives including the San Diego Fire Rescue Community Outreach Program, the Parks and Recreation Volunteer Program and the Human Resources Youth Development program. Additionally, California Coast Credit Union will be the first San Diego company to help fund the San Diego Promise Zone, a federal program designed to invest in underserved communities. The San Diego Promise Zone is one of 22 areas nationwide that works to improve quality of life and revitalize marginalized areas.

JLL released their San Diego Technology Report, showing real estate growth in the technology sector despite the pandemic. Qualcomm had one of the largest leases in 2020 in Sorrento Mesa, and life science and technology investors are expanding downtown.

San Diego County is partnering with Chamber members PCL Construction to create the Southeastern Live Well Center, a hub for community services including medical insurance coverage, nutrition assistance, military and veterans services, employment assistance and more. In the next few months, PCL will hold outreach events for businesses and residents to learn more about the project and potential opportunities. Later stages of the project will have opportunities for subcontractors to assist with design development. Learn more here. To be included in the upcoming bidder list please contact

In more good Chamber member news, Viasat received accreditation from the Department of Homeland Security. The Enhanced Cybersecurity Service (ECS) program is an exclusive group of commercial service providers able to receive cybersecurity intelligence from DHS.

Zoom fatigue is a real thing. Stanford published a peer-reviewed study confirming what we all know: this. Is. exhausting. Let’s all agree to a week of cameras-off meetings, yeah?

Legislative Update


Roll those sleeves up! The Johnson & Johnson vaccine cleared a major hurdle, receiving FDA staff support for emergency use. It still has a few steps, but the single-shot vaccine will be a welcomed addition to the arsenal.

Changes to PPP were announced on Monday. Beginning this Wednesday, a two week period will open exclusively for small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, ending March 9 at 5 pm ET.  Snazzy White House fact sheet here.

Biden’s pick for head of the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, is facing some opposition in the Senate.  Xavier Becerra’s confirmation hearing began this week. After suing the Trump administration a few (123) times, some Republicans are gearing up to oppose him.

HHSA has announced that they will be “practicing discretion” in their enforcement of HIPAA issues when doctors are using scheduling tools and platforms to help patients get vaccinated.

The federal relief package is moving through the House, expected to pass by the end of the week regardless of Republican support. The House Budget Committee advanced the relief package on Monday, and is set for a floor vote later this week. When the bill reaches the Senate, the $15 federal minimum wage provision is likely to face opposition. Legislators are racing to get the package passed mid-March, when unemployment benefits are set to expire.

A memo released last week by Dep. Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks outlines priorities for the FY2022 defense budget , with shipbuilding, nuclear enterprise, aircraft and climate change making the list for CAPE review.


From the country that brought you Blue Demon Jr. for Mayor in Mexico City: former Miss Universe Lupita Jones is officially running for governor of Baja California with the PRI, PAN, and PRD coalition. Joining the beauty queen, former Tijuana mayor Jorge Ramos is running once again in hopes to return to office for a second term.

The temporary restrictions on non-essential travel across shared ports of entry between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico were extended for an additional thirty days to March 21, officially turning 1 year old. The Chamber  continues to advocate for an end to these travel restrictions which continue to harm our economy and don’t only impact tourism and retail, but also small businesses and our cross-border workforce across sectors. We believe that binational collaboration on the COVID-19 response and enforcement of social distancing and mask compliance would be effective in limiting the spread of the virus.

The Biden administration has lifted the ban on new green card holders, reversing orders from President Trump.

Mexico reported 4.7 million homes and businesses lost power last week in the north of the country. The disruption is said to be a spillover of the electricity crisis in Texas, though the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE) was able to restore service to almost 2.6 million users in less than 24 hours. IEnova, SEMPRA’s affiliate in Mexico, urged for a thorough evaluation of the resources needed to strengthen the grid and ensure service across the country.

President Lopez Obrador recently introduced an energy bill that would change the dispatch rules under which electricity is fed to the power system. Specifically, the bill prioritizes energy plants owned and operated by CFE, followed by solar, wind, and combined cycle stations owned by private entities. As a result, no new renewable energy projects would be expected to be developed in the following years, impacting Mexico’s ability to fulfill its commitments under the Paris Agreement and USMCA. In addition, business organisms across the country have been vocal about their opposition. The Senate is scheduled to take a vote on the bill soon.

As Mexico enters phase 2 of their vaccine distribution plan, coronavirus czar Hugo Lopez-Gatell tested positive for COVID-19. The Undersecretary of Health has led efforts to mitigate the virus along with the president and is often criticized for his policies and relaxed approach to the pandemic. He was recently exposed for vacationing on a beach not following health protocols, but did not run into Sen. Ted Cruz.

Argentina’s President  Alberto Fernadez visited Mexico this week. He joined President Lopez Obrador on one of his daily press conferences, met with representatives from the private sector, and toured a local laboratory where AstraZeneca’s vaccines are being processed and distributed. Both leaders are working closely with Carlos Slim’s Foundation to produce and distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in Mexico and Argentina.

Although the State of Baja announced there has been a decrease in new COVID-19 cases, government authorities stated that classes will continue to take place remotely until further notice.

The Chamber is proud to partner with the UK Government Office in San Diego to host our upcoming International Business Affairs Forum featuring a virtual presentation and roundtable discussion with Greg Hands MP, UK Trade Minister of State for Trade Policy. The meeting will take place on Thursday, March 18 at 9:00am and highlight the UK-San Diego trade and investment relationship and explore new opportunities that may arise from a new trade agreement between both countries. The event is free but registration is required.


Last Friday, Governor Newsom announced that beginning March 1, 10% of vaccinations will be set aside for teachers to accelerate school reopenings. The move comes after SB 86, the “Safe and Open Schools Plan” was introduced last Thursday. The proposal allocates a total of $6.6 billion to schools, with $2 billion set aside for reopening schools around mid-April. Newsom has criticized the bill as not moving to reopen soon enough, and the tension between Newsom, school administrators, and the masses of exasperated parents continues to grow.

However, vaccine snags continue to give the Governor, and our team trying to track the updates, headaches. After misuse of codes that were designated to ensure equity in vaccine rollout was found, the equity system is being overhauled. Ten of the counties who were supposed to be added to the new vaccine rollout system are on hold.

Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez introduced AB 1074 last week, proposing workers that were laid off in hospitality, janitorial, airport and large venue operations to be rehired with priority for older employees. The bill addresses the layoffs in hospitality and tourism over the course of the pandemic, with over 88,000 jobs lost and less than 43,000 recovered. The measure was vetoed by Governor Newsom last year, and opposed by some business groups.

Also introduced last week: SB 430, or the California Small Business Regulatory Fairness Act, would waive civil penalties for violations of regulatory or statutory requirements by a small business.

According to the California Department of Finance’s recent bulletin, 102,000 building permits were approved in 2020, an 8.8% drop from 2019.

This morning, Cal/OSHA’s emergency regulations from November got a win. In San Francisco, a judge rejected the lawsuit brought by employers seeking relief from the regulations arguing that they exceeded the scope of the agency.

Earlier this week, Governor Newsom signed the comprehensive relief package into law. The package, which was passed by the Legislature the day prior to the Governor signing, includes: 5.7 million $600 “Golden State stimulus” payments for low-income households, small business relief grants over $2 billion total in small business relief grants, additional state fee waivers for hard-hit restaurants, salons and other businesses, new PPP tax deductibility, and more.

A California Appeals Court will not be revisiting its opinion that a San Francisco tax increase measure only needed a simple majority to pass. This action and defense of its original ruling is one more potential  feather in Measure C’s cap. Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court next.


New Tier Alert! Beginning Saturday, February 27, the County will open vaccinations to those who work in emergency services, child care and education, and food and agriculture (including grocery stores). It is estimated that 500,000 people are in this tier. Eligible individuals can sign up for an appointment here.

San Diego’s adjusted case rate has dropped significantly with an adjusted case rate of 15 per 100,000 residents. Our adjusted case rate was 25.9 only two weeks ago. Our testing positivity percentage is at 5% and health equity metric is 7.4%, both in line with the Red Tier. The Blueprint for a Safer Economy uses the most restrictive measure to determine tier placement, so we’re still in the Purple until our adjusted case rate is below 7 cases per 100,000 residents. Keep it up, San Diego!

The Petco Park vaccination superstation reopened this Tuesday, after temporary closures from vaccine shortages. The delayed vaccinations are expected to be received by next week. New vaccination clinics are opening in Otay Mesa and Lemon Grove this week.

In case you missed Chair Fletcher’s State of the County address last week, watch the recap here.

Councilmember Raul Campillo and the San Diego Workforce Partnership are pursuing a predictive scheduling ordinance to go before the City’s Economic Development & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee on March 10th. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged from Chamber members.

District Attorney Summer Stephan announced earlier this week the creation of a new Workplace Justice unit. The unit will be dedicated to wage theft and labor trafficking cases.

The County recently announced two senior leadership changes: Natalia Bravo will now be the Chief of Staff to Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer, and assistant sheriff Kelly Martinez has been appointed to Undersheriff. On Tuesday, the debate over regulating short term vacation rentals reached a compromise. After years of marathon council meetings, and almost-there compromise proposals, Council President Campbell had a huge win with her policy passing 8-1.

Plan ahead: From Friday, February 26 at 10:00pm through Monday, March 1, at 7:00am, the City of San Diego’s Development Services Department will have a planned weekend service outage for their online permitting system for system upgrade installations.

San Diego City Council will meet Tuesday, March 2nd. Agenda here, and includes an extension of the emergency worker recall and retention measure.

The County Board of Supervisors will also meet on Tuesday. Agenda here.

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • 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.
  • Applications for the County of San Diego’s 2021 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) can be submitted starting Tuesday, March 2, 2021.The County’s ERAP 2021 serves all areas of the San Diego region except for the cities of San Diego and Chula Vista. Click here for more information on the County’s program or click here to check which program serves your area.
  • 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.