Legislative Update – January 21

January 21 – Weekly Update

Our newsletter is brought to you by our sponsor, TOOTRiS, but it’s written by a bunch of millennials and as such, we’d like to discuss the MVP of the inauguration: fellow young-person, inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. Aside from Lady Gaga’s gold-taxidermied bird-broach (brooch?), Ms. Gorman was the brightest part of yesterday’s ceremony and couldn’t you just feel this closing line?

“The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it– if only we are brave enough to be it.”

Did you get a chance to catch CNBC’s Streets of Dreams this week? Focused on North Harbor Dr. and the blue economy (ocean-based business, not sad money), the episode features Chamber members Workshop for Warriors and NASSCO’s Dennis Dubard!

And if you’re looking for some inspiration for your 2021- join us for a webinar hosted by Union Bank highlighting business success amidst COVID. We’ll explore how entrepreneurial thinking is one of the best tools businesses can use, what’s worked for local employers to keep people motivated, and how you find “wins” amidst a pandemic and constant change. Register here.

Business News

NASSCO launched the USNS John Lewis, one of six vessels in the John Lewis-class fleet oiler program for the US Navy. John Lewis himself welded his initials on the keel plate of the ship in 2019.

Looking for some extra feel-good news in your inbox? SeaWorld just launched a newsletter, sign up here.

Qualcomm announced their latest collaboration with Samsung this week, providing their Snapdragon 888 5G Mobile Platform to power Samsung’s newest smartphones. The Snapdragon 888 includes the newest innovations in 5G, AI, gaming, and camera technologies.

Business giant (and Chamber member) Amazon has offered to help with vaccine distribution via a letter to the President.

California’s median home price hit a record high in December at $717,930, up 16.8% from the same time last year.

Legislative Update


President Biden released his $1.9 trillion relief plan last week, which includes $15 billion for a new grant program for small businesses, $20 billion to expand vaccination efforts, and $350 billion in state and local aid. The largest piece of the plan would add an additional $1400 in individual stimulus checks to the $600 passed in December and add $400 in unemployment benefits per week.

The President also signed 17 executive actions yesterday, representing a mix of reversals of Trump-era policies and new directives to address the COVID crisis. Key highlights include reinstating the country’s participation in the World Health Organization (Fauci will be the lead from the US), rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and extending both the nationwide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through the end of March and the pause on student loan payments and interest through September (at least).

Biden selected San Diego Unified School District Superintendent, Cindy Marten as Deputy Secretary of Education (is this federal news or local news? We didn’t know either).

He has also named FTC Commissioner Rebecca Kelly as acting chair of the organization, and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as Chair.

Build, baby! The US Chamber has launched a Build by the 4th of July campaign, urging Congress to adopt an infrastructure package by the 4th of July. You can join by adding your organization to this huge coalition here.

This Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held Ret. Gen. Lloyd Austin’s confirmation hearing. Since he hasn’t been retired for more than seven years, he requires a Congressional waiver to serve as Secretary of Defense. Congress has voiced concern over maintaining civilian control of the military, in addition to Austin’s industry ties to Raytheon. He needs the Senate to confirm his Cabinet position, but both the Senate and House to grant the waiver. Austin testifies before the House Armed Services Committee today.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing for Alejandro Mayorkas this week. If confirmed, he’ll be the first Latino and immigrant Secretary of Homeland Security.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released guidance on mandatory vaccination programs, how vaccine requirements interact with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other points. It’s unlikely that these new guidelines will give employers all the clarity they need, but the technical assistance is nonetheless available.

As a farewell gift, California AG Becerra announced he was engaging in nine new lawsuits against the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released its Strategy 2021-2026 which introduces the agency’s new mission and vision statements while providing an overview of its priorities and strategic objectives. These objectives cover: secure and compliant trade; biometric identification; IT infrastructure; partnerships; counter network; awareness and enforcement; targeting and vetting; stakeholder experience; talent acquisition and workforce development; wellness and resilience; data and analytics; and intelligence. We look forward to continued collaboration with CBP on regional priorities that facilitate cross-border commerce and ensure a secure, reliable, and efficient border.

President Biden announced the appointment of Roberta Jacobson as coordinator for the southwestern border on the National Security Council. Formerly U.S. Ambassador to Mexico between 2016 and 2018, she will oversee the administration’s proposed reforms to the national asylum system and strengthen the relationship with Mexico and Central America. The Chamber has met with Jacobson on delegation trips to Mexico City during her tenure as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and has fostered a strong relationship with her.

Baja’s Water Management, Sanitation and Protection Agency (SEPROA) shared an overview of a comprehensive project to rehabilitate the 30 pump stations located in the City of Tijuana. The first phase of the project is estimated to cost over $143 million pesos (about $7.3 million USD) and is part of the agency’s efforts to provide much-needed maintenance and upgrades to Tijuana’s sewage system to improve water service across the city and help reduce transboundary polluted flows impacting the Tijuana River Valley in our region.


California Competes Tax Credit applications are open until January 25. The income tax credit is available to any California business and will be administered based on twelve criteria including the number of full-time jobs being created, amount of investment, and strategic importance to the state or region.

Former Governor and proud owner of a pet donkey, Arnold Schwarzenegger got vaccinated and had a great tweet about it.

Didn’t get to apply for the first round of the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program? Round 2 opens on February 2.

Last Thursday, the California Supreme Court ruled the ABC test under AB5 is now considered retroactive. The ABC test was established by the Dynamex ruling in 2018, which determines if a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Last week’s ruling will hold companies liable for violating the ABC test for cases back in 2018. Although Prop 22 protects rideshare companies from the ABC test as of November 2020, this leaves a liability gap from 2018 until the time Prop 22 came into effect.

Another thing that’s been closed for the last ten months is the court system. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has launched a fast-track program to ease the state’s backlog of criminal cases, using the Temporary Assigned Judges program.

California Senate Republicans, who make up nine of the forty seats, have opted for new leadership after ousting Shannon Grove and replacing her with Scott Wilk.

Did you get a PPP loan? Are you totally confused about what is deductible on your taxes and what isn’t? (If this is news to you, sorry for stressing you out). The Chamber is leading a coalition to confirm the introduction of legislation at the state level to align state tax policy with federal guidance that allows for deductions of expenses traditionally deductible even if paid for with PPP funds. Reach out to Policy staff if you’ve got any follow-up questions.

Cal/OSHA has revised their COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards to provide employers with more clarity on testing requirements, payment for employees excluded due to a COVID related exposure, and enforcement measures. Through February 1, Cal/OSHA will not assess monetary penalties with citations and will take into consideration good faith efforts to comply.

On Monday California Secretary of State Alex Padilla stepped down from his role to be officially appointed to the US Senate and was sworn in yesterday. Assemblymember Shirley Weber was tapped by Governor Newsom to be Secretary of State.

Further proof, if possible, that the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) is a nightmare factory: new director Rita Saenz reports that the fraud estimate for unemployment claims is likely going to surpass $8 BILLION. Oh, and totally on theme: those victims of EDD fraud still might get hit with a tax bill. If you are a victim of EDD fraud, contact your legislator ASAP, and if you need help figuring out who that is, respond to this email and we’ll take care of you.

California has halted administering of a batch of the Moderna vaccine after some allergic reactions, but is back on track, returning those 330k doses to the supply.

On Tuesday, Ammar Campa-Najjar announced he will not run for the 79th Assembly district seat because the district should be represented by a woman of color.


2021 is shaping up to be a blockbuster year for the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System: a new fare system, more zero-emission buses, service launch on the UC San Diego Blue Line extension to UTC, a commitment to equity and environmental justice, and more! Join MTS Board Chair Nathan Fletcher on TODAY (Thursday, January 21) for an update on the latest news from MTS. Tune-in to the broadcast on MTS’ Facebook page  starting at 5 p.m.

The City of San Diego continues to stare down a pretty big ($150M) budget deficit. Accordingly, a 143-page document outlining each council offices’ budget priorities is also available from the City’s Independent Budget Analyst.

Last week, the County Board of Supervisors voted to create a new climate action plan. The plan would work towards zero carbon emissions in the next 15 years, with an emphasis on environmental equity for all communities in San Diego.

San Diego County has a goal to vaccinate 70% of all residents by July 1 (1.9 million people!). The county is currently completing 6,153 vaccinations per day and will need to ramp up to 23,434 vaccinations per day to meet the target. The county’s health department is planning to open an additional 8 vaccination centers throughout the region and is working with the state to release a vaccination alert system for residents to know when and where to get vaccinated.

Check out KPBS’ COVID vaccination tracker, updated with County data every Wednesday. The tracker shows the percentage of San Diego’s population that is fully immunized. So far…we’re at 0.4%

The City of San Diego is gathering community feedback on environmental justice to guide San Diego’s 2022 general plan. The initiative will help identify which communities are most impacted by pollution, insufficient infrastructure, and lack of access to healthy foods. Take the survey here.

Regional stakeholders continue to face questions about how to address sediment in the Los Penasquitos Lagoon. At their most recent meeting, the Poway City Council voted to further negotiate with its regional partners instead of paying $6.7 million as part of a collaborative effort to address the restoration.

The current ICU bed availability in Southern California is 0%. The adjusted case rate as of Tuesday is 60.6 per 100,000 residents. As a reminder, the case rate must drop below 8 per 100,000 residents for three consecutive weeks to move out of the purple tier. The Regional Stay at Home Order isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The 37th Annual San Diego County Economic Roundtable predicted an upturn in the second half of 2021. The panel discussed how income and ethnicity was a key factor in COVID related unemployment, and that tourism was one of the hardest-hit sectors. Experts are looking at a five-year recovery for the travel and tourism sector, but are expecting a surge in leisure and service demand after widespread vaccinations.

The City of San Diego Council agenda for 1/26 is available here. (Scroll to the part where the Mayor declares San Diego Chamber of Commerce Day!!)

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) 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.