Legislative Update – December 17

December 17 – Weekly Update

Happy second-to-last day of Hanukkah to all celebrating. Hopefully, you got your loved ones a puppy for Hanukkah.

Santa may need to plan ahead this year. Online shopping has surged during the pandemic, and private carriers like UPS and FedEx have cut off some retailers to manage their services. USPS has had to take over huge volumes of mail and packages, in addition to employee shortages, causing extreme delays.

Like many of you, the Chamber staff is taking some well-deserved time off. Happy holidays to you and your families. Thank you for scrolling with us, for your kind words of support and all you do to support our region’s businesses. Remember to shop local and wear your mask.

Business News

USD’s School of Business is launching the Global Readiness Program, a free fellowship for San Diego small businesses hoping to enter international markets. Businesses must be pre-exporters that produce goods and services with at least 51% of US content with no prior international sales experience. 20 companies will be selected for the four-month-long program.

According to a study conducted by the YMCA Childcare Resource Center, 535 child care businesses in San Diego County (approx. 12% of the region’s total supply) closed as a result of the COVID crisis. These closures only further exacerbate the region’s supply problem.

The San Diego Regional Airport Authority has released its sustainability report. Check it out here.

Yesterday afternoon, a San Diego Superior judge ruled that two strip clubs can remain open and operation amidst the current regional shut down. The county has voted to appeal the ruling, but will not be enforcing the closure restrictions.

Legislative Update:


Last week, the Pfizer vaccine was granted emergency use authorization and began distribution in the US on Monday.

The NDAA passed the House and Senate with an overwhelming majority last week, giving President Trump 10 days to act on the bill. If he decides to veto, Congress will have a short amount of time to try to override.

The electoral college officially confirmed POTUS46, Joe Biden.

Congress has until Friday at midnight to come to a resolution on the coronavirus relief package, or pass a stopgap bill to extend government funding in the meantime. Legislators might make democrat-backed state and local aid and GOP-backed liability protections for corporations individual bills in order to move the package forward. The current bipartisan compromise includes $300 billion for the Small Business Administration and a new round of PPP, aid for vaccine distribution and schools, and a one-time check of approximately $600 for Americans that make below a certain income threshold.

Federal contractor aid is set to expire this Friday unless Congress acts to extend. Section 3610 of the CARES Act currently allows the federal government to continue to pay contractors, even if their employees are unable to access federal worksites.

Pete Buttigieg was nominated as Secretary of Transportation, making him the first openly gay person to head a Cabinet department in US history. Former Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough was nominated to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

On Tuesday, the FDA released an initial analysis of the Moderna vaccine, finding it 94% effective. Today, an independent advisory panel will vote on whether the vaccine should be recommended for FDA emergency authorization, with potential to be authorized and distributed by the weekend.


Baja’s Water Management, Sanitation, and Protection Agency (SEPROA) announced a project to provide much-needed maintenance, repairs, and upgrades to the Punta Bandera wastewater treatment plant in Tijuana to help reduce transboundary pollution impacting our region. The project is estimated to cost $600 million pesos (about $30 million USD), covered by federal and state funds. Inactive for the past decade, the reactivation of Punta Bandera will contribute greatly to reducing transboundary polluted flows, and will potentially help address agriculture irrigation shortages in Ensenada.

In California, Governor Newsom signed a bill requiring the state’s Environmental Protection Agency to create a Watershed Action Plan for the Tijuana River Valley. SD 1301, authored by Sen. Hueso, also looks to address cross-border challenges in the watershed’s management and create a framework for how U.S. and Mexican agencies can work together to mitigate polluted flows.

The California Transportation Commission allocated $42.5 million for the State Route 11/ Otay Mesa East Land Port of Entry and $22.7 million for the La Media Road Expansion projects in our region. With 90 percent of California’s exports to Mexico traveling through our local ports of entry, these projects will be a critical relief valve for cargo and passenger vehicles and improve mobility while reducing air pollution and congestion across our ports of entry.

Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Martha Barcena announced her plans to retire early and leave her post in the coming months after 43 years of public service. President Lopez Obrador has nominated Esteban Moctezuma to take her place. Moctezuma currently serves as Mexico’s Secretary of Public Education and previously served as Senator and Secretary of the Interior for President Zedillo. This appointment still needs to be ratified by the Senate.


We’d like to give an official “hey girl hey!” to the incoming chief economic advisor for Governor Gavin Newsom, Dee Dee Myers. For all you West Wing fans out there, this is the former Clinton press secretary that the oh-so-fabulous CJ Cregg character was modeled after. This is a key role, as she will have an undoubtedly massive to-do list in a time of unprecedented (ugh, that word again) uncertainty.

Committee assignments have been made for the state legislature. Why would you care about this you ask? Well! Your friendly policy nerds at the Chamber can tell you: committee assignments dictate what issue areas elected officials will cover and can play out in different political ways like fundraising, higher/lower profile roles, and long-term exposure. San Diego’s Senator Ben Hueso remains Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee Chair.

Heads up: employers of 100 or more have until March 31, 2021, to comply with the Department of Fair Employment & Housing regulations to report pay data. This will become an annual requirement and one that will undoubtedly sneak up on you if you’re not preparing. A portal is expected to go live to make these annual reports easier.

Have you turned on exposure notifications? Learn how to add your phone to the California exposure notification system here. Your phone will alert you if someone you came in contact with tested positive for COVID-19.

The state’s first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived at LAX on Sunday night. This initial allotment of about 327,000 doses of the vaccine will be given first to front-line health care workers, followed by those living and working in long-term care facilities.

Minimum wage is set to increase for California and the City of San Diego starting January 1, 2021. California employers with fewer than 25 employees will increase the minimum wage to $13 /hour, and employers with more than 26 employees will increase to $14/hour.  All employers in the City of San Diego will increase the minimum wage to $14/hour. For more information, read here.


This week’s county COVID update is looking grim. The ICU capacity for Southern California is 2.7%, far below the 15% threshold needed to lift the Regional Stay at Home Order. The adjusted case rate is 29.5 per 100,000 residents. We still have two weeks under the stay at home order, which went into effect midnight December 7. After the three weeks is up, the CDPH will release a four-week forecast to project regional ICU capacity. If Southern California is projected above 15% ICU capacity, we’ll go back to the tier system under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

On Tuesday, Naval Medical Center San Diego and Rady Children’s Hospital began administering the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Widespread vaccination isn’t expected until spring, with essential healthcare workers and nursing home residents first in line.

This morning, City Council held a special meeting to disclose the city’s gas and electric franchise agreement bids. The issue of the franchise agreement was listed as an information item on the agenda, not an action item, so no decision was made in regards to the franchise agreement. Revealed in today’s meeting was that only one bid was returned from San Diego Gas & Electric.

Encinitas City Council voted to contribute $75,000 in small business relief grants for those facing hardships due to the pandemic.

Female recruits will train at MCRD San Diego for the first time in almost a century. The Marine Corps had segregated boot camp training companies by gender until 2019, and began testing gender-integrated companies at Parris Island, South Carolina. Bravo, ladies!

Capital Opportunities & Resources:

  • The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is now applications today 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) was 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.