Legislative Update – January 7

January 7 – Weekly Update

It’s safe to say that we all hoped 2021 would find itself less newsworthy than its disastrous sibling, 2020. But yesterday we know many of you spent the day watching an immensely unsettling scene unfold at the Capitol. We’re not going to rehash those events, but we do want to express our relief that the San Diego Congressional delegation remains safe, and their staff all out of harm’s way. Ultimately, the work was resumed, as Congress did complete the counting of the Electoral College vote, and President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner of the election.

Ready to get caught up on what you missed? Buckle up!

Business News

NASSCO delivered Matsonia, the second of two vessels for Matson, a Honolulu-based shipping and logistics company. It features a fuel-efficient hull design, and Tier 3 engines, which reduce particulate emissions and nitrogen oxide emissions. These are the largest combination container/ roll on – roll off ships ever built in the US.

BioSpyder, a Carlsbad-based company, will start selling COVID screening kits to businesses and consumers to help aid widespread testing. The kits offer group testing to promote safety among social groups, work teams, and families.

BioCom California released “The Path Forward: Biocom California’s Return to Work Guide for the Life Science Industry” with best practices for the life science industry to meet workplace, laboratory, and manufacturing safety guidelines.

Pfizer and Moderna are already approved, and Astrazeneca, Novavax, and Johnson and Johnson are in the pipeline to add to the US vaccine arsenal. Does it matter which vaccine you get? We’re not scientists, but you can read more from medical experts here.

The County is requesting feedback on how to make sure their resources and telebriefings are helpful for the business community. Fill out this 5-minute feedback form by January 15.

UCSD continues to be a regional leader in COVID research, testing, and tracing. Students now can access tests via a vending machine on campus.

Legislative Update:


With the Georgia runoff elections confirmed, the Democrats now have a very narrow Senate majority. The Senate is now split 50-50, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker.

We finally have a $900 billion relief package. So what’s in it?

  • $600 stimulus checks per person, which decreases if you make over $75,000 per year and will not be distributed to those making over $99,000 per year.
  • Unemployment will be extended to $300 per week, as well as unemployment benefits for contract and gig work.
  • $284 billion in PPP loans and expanded eligibility to include nonprofit organizations and 501(c)(6).
    • Businesses who received PPP loan forgiveness will be able to deduct loan costs on federal tax returns.
  • $20 billion in grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program
  • Tax breaks for corporate meal expenses to revive the restaurant industry.
  • 3-month extension of federal contractor relief, which allows federal contractors to keep employees even if they cannot access facilities.

Not included:

  • Aid to state and local governments.
  • Liability protections for corporations.

What’s different about this round of PPP? Check out the new SBA guide here.

Lawmakers are already looking ahead to the next round of stimulus under the new administration. McConnell is advocating for liability protections for businesses in the next bill. Biden has outlined his goals to extend unemployment benefits, implement an eviction moratorium, allocate funding for vaccine distribution, and increase aid to small businesses.

Congress voted to override President Trump’s veto of the 2021 NDAA.

And, Congress was able to pass some of the most significant climate change legislation in a decade. San Diego’s own Rep. Scott Peters played “a key role in shaping two measures included in that package,” according to UT coverage of the policy moves.

The US was able to double its supply of Pfizer vaccines after reaching a deal in late December. 70 million doses are due to be delivered by June 30, 2021, and 30 million additional doses to be delivered in July.

Secretary of Defense Chris Miller released a memo with fifteen recommendations to improve racial and ethnic diversity and inclusion in the military. Read more here.

President-elect Biden is planning to expand the SBA small business development program to target disadvantaged firms. The $400 billion procurement plan will include efforts to increase subcontracting opportunities for certified disadvantaged small businesses and prevent contract bundling.

Members of the US Space Force have decided on a name: Guardians. The name is based on the official command motto of the Air Force Space Command in 1983, “Guardians of the High Frontier” (not Guardians of the Galaxy, like we all initially thought).


After months of negotiations, the United Kingdom (UK)  and the European Union (EU) announced a trade agreement was reached just before the New Year. The deal still needs to be approved by the European Parliament, the UK government, and all 27 EU member states, whose leaders predominantly welcomed the news. With trade between the United States and the UK reaching an all-time high of more than $140 billion in 2019, negotiations for a U.S.-UK trade agreement formally started last May and continue to take place.

The Mexican Federal Government announced that the private sector will be able to independently acquire and distribute doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Manufacturing and industry leaders in Baja have shared plans to invest nearly $45 million to help immunize 750,000 workers at no cost to them. Federal authorities continue to follow their vaccine distribution plan currently covering healthcare workers at the front line and/or attending to COVID-19 patients across the country.

In light of the rising number of new COVID-19 cases across the state of Baja, the Zonkeys basketball arena in Tijuana (previously transformed into a COVID-19 hospital) has resumed operations to help alleviate congestion at the city’s COVID-19 designated hospitals. The facility, which had closed in September when COVID-19 cases decreased, is now equipped with 50 beds, bathrooms, a special care section, and a sanitation area to ensure medical staff and patients are protected.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and Tijuana Mayor Arturo Gonzalez met virtually to reaffirm their commitment to strengthening economic, cultural, and civic ties. Both Mayors pledged to promote safety and precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of the virus to safeguard our binational community as well as cross-border commerce.

In Baja, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) announced that Mexicali Mayor Marina del Pilar Avila will represent the party for this year’s governor race. Baja Governor Bonilla and Mayor Avila are both part of MORENA, the same political party as President Lopez Obrador. Meanwhile, the opposition has formed a coalition composed of the PRI, PAN, and PRD political parties which are yet to announce a candidate. Upcoming elections for governor, as well as for local offices across Baja, will take place in June.


On Tuesday, Governor Newsom outlined his Equitable Recovery for California Businesses and Jobs plan. This includes an additional $575 million for the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant and increased funding for the California Jobs Initiative. Read more here.

If you haven’t already, turn on your exposure notifications!

The California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program application deadline has been extended until January 13. Apply here. The San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center has webinars available for more information on how to apply.

On January 1, several new state laws regulating the workplace went into effect, including rules related to family leave, COVID safety, workers’ comp, AB5/independent contractors, and more. Read an overview here.

The California Debt Limit Allocation Committee and the California Tax Allocation Committee have streamlined processes for affordable housing developers to obtain low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) and tax-exempt bonds.

Two historic nominations were made for US Senator to California and California’s Secretary of State. Alex Padilla was nominated to serve as the US Senator to California, making him the state’s first Latino US Senator. San Diego’s Assemblymember Shirley Weber was nominated by Governor Newsom to serve as California’s Secretary of State. She will be California’s first Black woman to serve in the position.

As parents stare down a new year of zoom-based learning (SEND HELP), Governor Newsom proposes a $2 billion, incentive-based plan to resume in-person learning. Reactions remain mixed, but this plan will require legislative approval and may be a telling moment for the Governor’s relationship with the 2021 legislative branch.

In what is definitely the “least desirable job” news, Rita Saenz has agreed to take over the Employment Development Department. Her to-do list includes (but is not limited to): address the department’s $48 BILLION (!) shortfall, find and recoup the millions in benefits fraudulently sent out, completely realign a droopy work morale within the department, and reestablish trust with both the legislature and the executive branch. And, oh yeah, deal with the ongoing record levels of demand for unemployment benefits.

Kevin Faulconer may make a run for Governor. This Monday, he announced the launch of a gubernatorial exploratory committee.


The Regional Stay at Home Order is here to stay. Currently, the ICU capacity for the Southern California region is 0%.

This Monday, Nora Vargas, Terra Lawson-Remer, and Joel Anderson were sworn into the County Board of Supervisors. District 4 Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was unanimously selected as Chair of the Board. And so begins what can very appropriately be called a new era of government and operations for the County of San Diego.

Last Wednesday, Mayor Todd Gloria signed an executive order to strengthen enforcement of public health orders in San Diego. The order includes directing SDPD and the City Attorney’s Office to fine up to $1,000 and other enforcement measures to anyone defying state and county public health orders.

City Council agreed to extend SDGE’s contract for another 5 months, which was set to expire on January 17. During this time, the mayor’s office will receive public feedback and reopen the bid process to attract other companies.

The City of San Diego intends to sell properties owned by its redevelopment agency over the next two years. The revenue will go towards affordable housing production in San Diego.

San Diego will conduct an environmental impact report on the ban on foam food containers by this summer. The analysis could possibly reinstate the ban.

Need more zooms? The City Council meets next week on Tuesday. The County does too (and on Wednesday!).

Capital Opportunities & Resources:

  • The California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program application deadline has been extended until January 13. Apply here. The San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center has webinars available for more information on how to apply.
  • 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.