Legislative Update – June 25



This week the Chamber celebrated the launch of the All Our Talent: Women on Boards and Commissions Initiative with special guests and featured speakers First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis. The initiative is an effort of the San Diego Regional Chamber Foundation with support from Mine The Gap focused on addressing the need for more women on corporate, nonprofit, and government-appointed boards and commissions in our region.

As part of the All Our Talent initiative, the Chamber released a report and dashboard on the state of women on boards and commissions locally and the disparities and barriers in our region’s leadership. This information and how to get involved are available online here.

Earlier this week it was also announced that Caroline Winn, the Chair of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and the thought leader behind the initiative, was promoted to Chief Executive Officer of San Diego Gas & Electric Company.


Yesterday, state health departments across the country reported nearly 40,000 new cases of the coronavirus. This is the highest single-day total reported to date, surpassing the previous record of just over 34,000 in late April. Texas, Florida, and California reported the highest rates of infection, with over 5,000 new positive cases each. Despite growing outbreaks in states across the country, the federal government is closing its testing sites across the country on June 30 and asking states to take over all testing.

Earlier this week, House Democrats released the Moving Forward Act (H.R.2). It is a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill that would provide funds for both traditional projects (ie. roads and bridges) and other priorities including broadband access, affordable housing, green energy programs, and child care.

Congress is expected to begin discussions and negotiations on another phase of COVID-19 response legislation in July.

Baja’s Secretariat of Sustainable Economy and Tourism (SEST) is working closely with state legislators, tourism authorities, and industry organizations across the country to design an economic reactivation plan for the industry and businesses supported by tourism activities. SEST signed a collaboration agreement with Baja’s Secretariat of Health to advance public policies that ensure a responsible promotion of tourism. The City of Tijuana has already reported a 50% increase in medical tourism with up to 300 individuals crossing the border daily to seek medical attention. Companies are required to obtain a COVID-19-Free Work Spaces certification with Baja’s State government and comply with a list of precautionary measures as instructed by the Secretariat of Health.


On Monday, the Governor and Legislature reached a compromise over the FY21 budget. Senate and Assembly leaders resisted the Governor’s call to cut the budget and pushed for dipping into reserves to fill budget gaps. K-12 funding increased slightly compared to the current fiscal year budget and no cuts were made to key safety net programs including MediCal and In-Home Supportive Services.

During a press conference yesterday, Governor Newsom cautioned Californians on the increased coronavirus risk as reopening expands. He announced that over the last two weeks, 5.1% of COVID-19 tests (totaling 7,149) came back positive, higher than any single day previously recorded. The Governor threatened that county compliance with on-going stay-at-home order and other coronavirus related directives is required to receive state funding, as written in the agreed upon state Budget Trailer Bill.

This morning, Governor Newsom issued a proclamation that the state is in a budget emergency. This declaration will allow the Legislature to pass budget legislation drawing from the state’s emergency reserve to help fund COVID-19 emergency relief and shrink the $54.3 billion state budget deficit.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the passage and enforcement of AB5 was front of mind for businesses across the state. California Attorney General Becerra, as well as city attorneys in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, announced plans to file an injunction to require Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as employees. This injunction comes as Uber, Lyft, and other app-based delivery companies continue to fund a statewide ballot measure that would allow their drivers to remain independent contractors.


Today, Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) announced increased service on 40 bus routes beginning this Sunday, June 28 in order to accommodate the growing need for transit service as San Diegans return to work. MTS has implemented guidelines such as mandatory facial coverings, entering through the rear-door, social distancing, and no contact fare payment to aid rider safety. The June service schedule can be found here.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors, in a 4-1 vote, approved a proposal to request additional guidance from the state regarding reopening of activities such as, private events, wedding receptions, hotel conferences, street fairs, and the reopening of community playgrounds. Yesterday, at the county press conference, Supervisor Cox clarified that the county has paused additional reopening, due to the continued COVID-19 community outbreak trigger. He relayed that the vote Tuesday was to prepare businesses for eventual reopening, but those businesses will not be able to reopen given the current trigger. Yesterday, the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the county were reported.

During the same hearing, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved to establish an Office of Equity and Racial Justice with an annual $1.1 million budget. The proposal also includes establishment of a community equity fund, a similar proposal was approved by San Diego City Council.

San Diego City Council also took action on Tuesday when it unanimously voted to endorse a plan for a new police review board that would have the power to launch independent misconduct investigations and subpoena witnesses. This action was put forward by San Diego City Councilmember Monica Montgomery and a formal vote to place the proposed plan as a measure on the November ballot is scheduled for July 7.

In a similar vein, the San Diego Police Department instituted a new standalone policy directing officers to attempt to de-escalate encounters when they can, and a new imperative that officers intervene in situations when another officer is seen to be using unreasonable force.

The San Diego Unified Port District, which spans 34 miles and includes the cities of San Diego, National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and Coronado, has extended rent deferrals for the hotels, restaurants, retail shop and other tenants along the waterfront where it holds sway for an additional three months as tideland businesses slowly reopen from coronavirus lockdowns.

Capital Opportunities & Resources:

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program – The SBA reopened the EIDL program application. Eligible businesses can now apply for the low-interested long-term loan and receive a $10,000 advance/grant even if they later choose to reject the loan. Learn more here.
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – PPP funds are still available. The deadline to apply for a PPP Loan was extended to June 30. Find a financial lender to apply for funds here.
    • The San Diego and Imperial SBDC has developed a webinar on PPP Loan Forgiveness. Watch it on-demand here.
  • The San Diego County COVID-19 Small Business & Nonprofit Loan Program’s nonprofit loan pool is now open and accepting applications. Applications are due by Tuesday, July 7
    • Find out if your organization qualifies 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.
  • Loans to repair damage caused by recent civil unrest events – Earlier this week, the county released the below guidance regarding a new SBA program:
    • The attached form is for businesses to document damages sustained during the recent civil unrest event(s).  This form will be utilized by Local, State and Federal governments in order to request a Physical Disaster Declaration from the United States Small Business Administration (SBA).  If a Physical Disaster Declaration is granted by the SBA, impacted businesses will be able to apply for a low-interest loan from the SBA.  By filling out the attached form, businesses are not obligated to participate in the program should a declaration be issued.  Completing the form does not guarantee disaster assistance from the SBA.  A minimum of one photograph of the damages is a requirement, as in-person damage assessments will not be carried out due to COVID-19 social-distancing restrictions.
    • Please submit completed forms, as well as questions about the program, to recoverysandiego@sdcounty.ca.gov.  
  • Qualcomm Small Business Accelerator Program – This initiative was created to help small business owners adapt to the changing needs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and become more mobile-friendly. 25 businesses will be selected to receive equipment and technical support valued at $25 thousand. The application window closes on June 30. Apply here.
  • NEW Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce Relief Fund – Black-owned businesses can apply for funding and technical assistance here. Email questions and concerns to info@sdblackchmaber.org

International Business Affairs:

Executive Order Suspends Employment-Based Visas

The Trump Administration issued an executive order  suspending numerous work visas and expanding existing restrictions until the end of 2020. Impacted visas include the H-1B program for skilled workers, L-1 visas for executives, J-1 visas for scholars and professors, and H-2B visas used by seasonal workers (ie. construction and hospitality industries).

This action is likely to cause substantial economic uncertainty and limit America’s ability to move toward a swift economic recovery. The United States economy depends on visa programs that support business growth, research, and investment. In fact, multiple studies have shown that employing foreign workers whose abilities and talents complement those of native-born workers actually creates new employment opportunities for American workers. For example, each H-1B visa leads to the creation of 1.83 jobs.

The Chamber issued a statement urging for the reversal of this action and had previously submitted a letter to the administration.

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

As the region prepares for the implementation of the new trade agreement on July 1, the Chamber along with the Consulate General of Mexico in San Diego, U.S. Consulate General in Tijuana, and the Consulate General of Canada in Los Angeles is hosting a webinar to discuss the treaty’s benefits and economic opportunities for our binational region. The virtual discussion will take place Tuesday, June 30 from 10:00 to 11:30am and feature trade and industry experts.