Legislative Update – April 2 - SD Regional Chamber

Legislative Update – April 2

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.
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