Legislative Update – February 18

February 18 – Weekly Update

The little-machine-that-could touched down on Mars moments ago. Perseverance, NASA’s rover, will cruise around the planet and send back information about the possibility of life existing in a tiny crater billions of years ago, aided by the Qualcomm-powered Ingenuity helicopter carried in its underbelly to the surface of the Red Planet. Meanwhile, we remain in our sweatpants pondering this, the 500th day of March 2020.

2.5 million women have left the workforce during the pandemic. After business closures, pandemic-related unemployment and lack of widespread affordable childcare (see our sponsor Tootris above ^^), addressing women’s workforce participation is finally an issue of national priority. Vice President Kamala Harris wrote an opinion piece for the Washington Post declaring the exodus of women from the workforce a national emergency.

Business News

Petco Health and Wellness Company are giving $75 to each employee who completes their COVID-19 vaccination.

The biggest news in baseball slid across home plate last night when Padres announced the signing of boy wonder shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. to a long haul 14-year contract worth an eye-watering $340 million.

A few weeks ago, San Diego’s Harbor Drive was featured on CNBC’s Street of Dreams (with some friendly Chamber faces). If you missed it, the Port of San Diego, Downtown San Diego Partnership and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation will be holding a panel discussion about the growth of our Blue Economy. Learn more here.

Already looking ahead to the next generation of the Blue Economy, San Diego City College launched an apprenticeship program to develop skilled workers in ocean and water technology.

Have you checked out the SBDC’s series of on demand webinars? All your PPP, cyber security, exporting and Purple Tier questions answered (and so much more).

Three US contractors, including Chamber members Northrop Grumman, have been selected for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) unmanned underwater vehicle development program. The goal of the program is to improve operational efficiency of host vessels, energy management and navigation.

Amazon is coming to Otay Mesa. Construction for the new 3.4 million square foot facility has been ongoing over the past year, and may be finished by summer. The industrialization of Otay Mesa aligns with regional goals to take advantage of the USMCA and expand cross border trade.

Ballast Point and UCSD Extension have partnered to create the first Brewing for Diversity scholarship program. The scholarship will go towards competition of UC San Diego Extension’s Brewing Certificate Program for underrepresented students. Learn more here.

The future has arrived: UCSD is leading an effort with five other universities and companies to develop electric flying taxis. Urban air mobility (UAM) is a concept developed for large cities with extreme traffic congestion issues. UAM would provide an alternative transit option for long commuter routes and allow for expanded airport shuttle routes. NASA awarded the $5.8 million grant to UC San Diego and their partners to improve software for vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft as a safer and quieter alternative to helicopters. We’d also humbly request a revisi of the Rondola idea, if anyone’s wondering.

Legislative Update


The IRS has delayed the start of tax season, but an official announced last week that they would not be extending the April 15th deadline for the year.

A second impeachment and second acquittal. Last week, the US Senate voted to acquit former President Trump with all Democrats and seven Republicans voting to convict. Now, Congress can focus on getting the relief package passed. Next week, the House will hold a floor vote for the $1.9 trillion relief package after nine House panels held budget hearings last week. Then, the Rules Committee needs to set procedures for the floor vote, and the Senate needs to pass its version of the bill before the final package can be reconciled and sent to the President.

From the CDC: Guidance for vaccinating homeless populations,

Former President Trump signed The Securing America’s Ports Act (HR 5237) in early January, which requires X-ray and gamma-ray scans of all passenger and commercial vehicles entering a US land port of entry. DHS has 180 days to evaluate the costs of upgrading current X-ray systems and assess the impact on border wait times. This would significantly increase border wait times at our land ports of entry which already cost both countries a combined $7.2 billion in lost economic output and impact over 62,000 jobs per year.

Check out last week’s episode of CalChamber’s The Workplace podcast, which covers expected changes to federal labor law under the Biden Administration. Some issues include new leadership to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with anticipated efforts to make unionization easier, and liability concerns for joint employers.

Last week, the CDC released new research with guidance for double masking. Wearing a cloth mask over a medical mask can significantly increase protection against COVID transmission, especially if you cinch the ear loops closer to your face.

The FDA has issued guidance for robot-delivered-healthcare. Check out the AI/Machine Learning Plan here.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it would be implementing President Biden’s executive order barring against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This makes HUD the first agency to implement the executive order, with other federal agencies expected to follow suit.

The Biden administration officially has an immigration bill in the House. Featuring an 8-year pathway to citizenship, prioritizing smart border controls, and other supports for targeted populations like Dreamers, the bill is big but not as comprehensive as the 2013 effort some critics say. It’s got a tough political road ahead.

California’s AG, Xavier Becerra is up for a vote next week. He’s been making the rounds in DC trying to lock up the support necessary for confirmation to be Biden’s HHS Secretary. If successful, Newsom gets another high-profile appointment to pick his successor. Top of the likely list? Adam Schiff.

Credit card debt is down, and mortgage debt is up according to the New York Federal Reserve.


Mexican lucha libre star Blue Demon Jr. is running for Mayor in Mexico City. If you thought that was crazy enough, he doesn’t plan to take off his mask if elected or use his real name which is still a mystery. Not crazy enough? He would continue to wrestle and only take off his mask upon defeat in the ring.

Last week, Tijuana welcomed a new mayor again: Karla Ruiz MacFarland. Ruiz took office for a second time following Mayor Gonzalez’s resignation, and once again became the city’s first female mayor. With no time to waste, she announced a strategic plan for her first 60 days in office which includes immediate action to ensure public health and safety; increase transparency; advance infrastructure development and mobility projects; address environmental issues; and a list of initiatives that contribute to increase quality of life. Mayor Ruiz met with Mayor Gloria earlier this week and reiterated their commitment to strengthen binational ties and ensure health, safety, and sustainability during the pandemic. Other priorities mentioned included immigration, commerce, and transboundary pollution impacting the Tijuana River Valley.

President Lopez Obrador will be visiting Tijuana this weekend. He is expected to meet with state and local officials and discuss a plan to ensure public health and safety in the city, among other issues.

Baja’s state government has now started phase 2 of their COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Although phase 1 covering healthcare workers is still going on, individuals over 60 are now able to schedule appointments at the state designated vaccination sites.

The U.S. Environmental and Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public meeting taking place virtually on Friday, February 26 at 10:00am. The agency will provide an update on the evaluation of infrastructure projects to support a comprehensive solution to transboundary pollution issues in our region, in accordance with the new trilateral agreement (USMCA). You can join the meeting by clicking here or calling 1(628)246-1294 (Conference ID: 264 897 296#). For additional information, please contact

Trump’s Remain in Mexico asylum policy will soon be replaced by the Biden administration. Currently, asylum seekers at the border are required to wait in Mexico for extended periods of time until their court hearing in the US. President Biden also officially ended Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the US-Mexico border. This means we can expect an end to federal funding for the border wall, but personnel will continue to support DHS and CBP.

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.


Governor Gavin Newsom and lawmaker leaders reached a spending deal on February 17 that provides economic relief and direct relief for low-income Californians impacted by the pandemic. The “Immediate Action Agreement” includes: $2 Billion in small business grants; fee relief for 59,000 restaurants; fee relief for 600,000 barber & cosmetology businesses; additional resources for critical child care services; and $600 stimulus checks for low-income Californians. The relief package will need legislative approval and is expected to be heard on the Senate and Assembly floors early next week. Next up: school reopening.

Got some free time? Want to help the state figure out some tough problems? The state appointments Secretary has made the monthly vacancies available online. If one of those vacancies sparks your interest- let the Chamber Policy Team know. You may have noticed, they need some help.

SB 336, introduced last week by Senator Ochoa-Bogh, would require local health officials to give 72 hours advance notice before implementing a new public health order. The bill would make sure any public health order changes are published online for 72 hours, and local health officials reach out to groups representing business interests to help prepare businesses to respond to changing regulations.

We told you so: the Milken Institute released its “Best Performing Cities” report, and found that California cities were the most affected as the workforce chose to relocate from the bay area to places like Provo, Utah because of the high cost of living. The biggest issue? Cost of housing. (San Diego is still relatively well-ranked, even after dropping from 38 to 49 in 2021).

Blue Shield and Kaiser have been selected to run California’s vaccination program. Blue Shield is planning on creating an algorithm to optimize vaccine distribution across the state, with an ambitious goal of administering 3 million shots by the beginning of March.

The EDD saga continues on. In what is so ridiculous of a controversy it should only be a plot line for a government-based sitcom, the fraudulent payments are now pegged at $31 billion (what?!), the backlog is back, and, sigh, an audit says that we knew the agency was doomed.

The Newsom administration announced yesterday that California’s carbon cap and trade program will be reevaluated as part of updates to the state’s climate roadmap. The carbon cap and trade program was established in 2013 as a way for carbon emitting industries (oil refineries, power plants, etc) to meet overall state climate goals. Experts have criticized the system as not doing enough to reduce emissions, but no drastic changes are expected anytime soon.

Because it’s never not election season anymore, the state court has approved the legislature’s move for redistricting deadlines from October 15th to December 15th of this year. In other words: until we know who is running where, it’s the wild wild west out here y’all.

The deadline for California drivers to get a REAL ID is approaching soon. Starting October 1, Californians will need a REAL ID to board domestic flights or access federal buildings. The California DMV is expecting a wave of new demand and updated their website to handle an estimated 1 million people per month.


The State of the County of San Diego address will be given by Chair Nathan Fletcher Thursday, February 18, 2021 (tonight) at 7:00 p.m. You are invited to watch this year’s State of the County. There are several ways to watch and listen LIVE.

The Petco Park vaccination supercenter is up and running again as of Tuesday. Operations were temporarily shut down over the weekend due to a delayed Moderna vaccine shipment. San Diego is expected to join Blue Shield’s vaccination program in March, which will use an algorithm to optimize distribution. Details on how the plan will operate at the local level is still forthcoming. Update: due to supply issues, the site will be closed on Thursday and Friday.

A pop-up vaccination site was set up downtown at Father Joe’s Villages to ensure those facing housing insecurity receive vaccinations. Additional pop up sites will be set up throughout the county to further community outreach, and provide vaccinations along with education materials.

A County-administered vaccination clinic is now open in Vista.

Last week, the County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure to develop renewable energy projects in unincorporated areas. The measure created a streamlined regulatory process for renewable energy developers, with actual projects to be determined in the future.

The County is collaborating with promotoras, or community health workers, to communicate vaccination information to San Diego’s Latino population. Organizations including the Latino Health Coalition continue to address disparities in vaccine access. 14% of all vaccinations in the County have been received by those identifying as Latino while representing 56% of all COVID cases.

The City of San Diego announced its launch of a climate action campaign, Climate Resilient SD. The campaign focuses on strategies to address wildfires, droughts, flooding, sea level rise and heat waves. Safety and equity are two priorities of the campaign, but it also incorporates the negative economic impacts of climate change on key San Diego industries like tourism. The City will collect public feedback from two online surveys and present a plan at the end of the year. Complete the survey here (deadline is tomorrow!).

The City’s Land Use & Housing Committee voted unanimously on February 18 to remove the City’s deed restrictions on certain parcels included in UC San Diego’s Campus Expansion project. An economic analysis found that the Campus expansion will generate over $85 million in tax revenue to the City during the first 20 years of operation and create more than 11,000 new jobs. The Chamber spoke in favor of lifting the deed restrictions and looks forward to further supporting UC San Diego as an important economic engine of our community. The item will now move forward to the full City Council.

After a national selection process, Andrew Strong has been selected as the director of the Office of Equity and Racial Justice. Strong is a Navy veteran, and served in various leadership roles in the County Human Resources Department and supports the County’s Human Relations Commission. The Office of Equity and Racial Justice was established in June of last year as part of the County’s effort to address systemic bias and racism within the organization.

Next Tuesday’s County Board of Supervisors meeting agenda can be found here. The City Council meeting agenda is also available 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.
  • 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.