Legislative Update – October 22 - SD Regional Chamber

Legislative Update – October 22

October 22 – Weekly Update

Feeling lucky? Help shape the future of San Diego transit. MTS wants your feedback on how to improve the transit experience during and after the pandemic. Fill out this survey specifically for Chamber members by the end of October. Three lucky participants will win a $50 gift card!

Californians are breaking voting records this year! Over 4.5 million votes have already been processed, about three times the number of votes cast this time during the 2016 elections. Only 12 more days to go.

Business News:

WFH, Work From Hotel? The hospitality industry is trying to innovate how we work from home, offering hotel rooms as daytime offices or destinations for ‘workcation’.

Cue Health received $481 million from the Department of Defense for its rapid COVID-19 test. The test uses a nasal swab and cartridge, and detects COVID-19 genetic material in about 20 minutes.

In the middle of the pandemic, San Diego’s startups are doing alright. 63 companies brought in $933 million in venture capital during the third quarter. Biotech and life science startups represent 80% of the overall funding.

In sad business news, San Diego reported 31 community outbreaks in the past week. Finding a (small) silver lining, San Diego’s unemployment rate has slightly decreased in September to 9%, adding over 11,000 jobs.

Legislative Update:


Federal:
 

Amy Coney Barrett’s Senate confIrmation hearing is set for next Monday. If confirmed, this will be the closest Supreme Court confirmation to an election in US history.

Pelosi and Mnuchin set Tuesday as the deadline for relief package negotiations, which unsurprisingly was not met. The two are optimistic about this week’s conversations, and the talks are scheduled to continue. The Senate failed to pass its $500 billion relief package yesterday, putting more pressure on the outcome of the bipartisan negotiations.

The CDC updated guidance on close contacts after findings were released from an investigation conducted over the summer of a Vermont correctional facility that experienced a COVID-19 outbreak. The new guidance defines a close contact as a person who has been within 6 feet of an infected individual for a total of at least fifteen minutes within a 24 hour period.

The Small Business Administration began approving PPP loan forgiveness. If you’re applying, check out these tips.

International:

The Mexican Federal Government signed a new agreement with the National Association of Private Hospitals. The agreement will allocate additional beds in private hospitals for COVID-19 patients and strategically determine specific private hospitals that will continue to serve as COVID-19 centers. Stronger communication protocols were also mentioned which would help ensure coordinated efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Baja’s Secretariat of Health announced there has been an increase in new COVID-19 cases reported and is undergoing an evaluation to determine if restrictions on non-essential activities and other precautionary measures will be resumed as a result. The State Government is holding meetings with municipal authorities across the state and is expected to make an announcement next week.

The International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) has released a new report “Binational Water Quality Study of the Tijuana River and Adjacent Canyons and Drains” prepared under Minute 320. The report includes recommendations to control industrial wastewater discharges in Tijuana, increase resources and assistance for wastewater collection and treatment, and continue joint water quality monitoring and field inspections to ensure prompt response to wastewater flows.

The IBWC Binational Core Group will hold a public meeting Tuesday, October 27 at 9:00am via zoom video platform. The Binational Core Group is composed of representatives from the federal, state, and local governments in both the U.S. and Mexico and local stakeholders including the San Diego Chamber and provide guidance and recommendations on issues that impact our binational region. Register for the public meeting here. The meeting will also be streamed live here.

This week’s International Business Affairs Forum focused on regional efforts to mitigate transboundary pollution impacting our region and featured Technical Undersecretary Rigoberto Laborin, who spoke on behalf of the State of Baja’s Water Management, Sanitation, and Protection Agency (SEPROA), and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. SEPROA’s work includes the implementation and maintenance of water infrastructure in Tijuana and a 60-day project that removed over 300,000 cubic meters of sediment and solid waste from the Tijuana River channel. These upgrades, along with increased coordination with U.S. authorities, are estimated to reduce the volume of northbound transboundary flows during dry weather by 70 percent and have already resulted in fewer northbound flows reported. Attendees also heard from Chamber member 4 Walls International about public and private collaboration on cross-border solutions for solid waste and plastics.

Register here for this year’s International Tribute Awards taking place virtually Tuesday, December 1 at 11:00 am. Join us to recognize outstanding individuals and businesses that have made a significant impact in the international efforts bridging U.S. and Mexican economies every year. We are excited to have U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau joining us this year!

State:

Last Thursday was the deadline for a federal aid package to be received by California. The budget included $11.1 billion in cuts that would have been restored if enough federal aid was available. The budget cuts are here to stay for at least two years, affecting 230,000 state employees.

Last week, California received a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support state responses to wildfires. The declaration will help those impacted by recent wildfires through increasing access to housing, unemployment and legal services. Additionally, it provides aid towards emergency response and recovery resources for state and local governments.

It should come as encouraging news that the state is very seriously planning to deploy vaccines. However, the plan is certainly a reality check, highlighting the fact that there is a finite amount of vaccines that will be available, and it may take some time to get them fully distributed.

Fortunately, San Diego is home to some of the smartest, and two of our own have been appointed to the Governor’s vaccine task force. Bravo, Dr. Mark Sawyer, and Dr. Rodney Hood!

And the economic hits keep coming. Governor Newsom released theme park guidance, but before you celebrate, the issuance seems to indicate that opening won’t be possible until there’s a vaccine. See the above point for why, from a business perspective, that is troubling.

Time is both catapulting us to 2021 and seems to have slowed to a mind-numbing stop. But, regardless, when we do find ourselves in January 2021, employers in CA must be ready to comply with new workplace laws. One of the big ones dictates how you track and inform your workforce about COVID cases. This Marketplace piece both outlines that law, and raises some new headache-inducing questions for the business community.

Speaking of headaches, AB 2257 was passed and signed, providing further clarification to the business-to-business component of AB 5.

The Legislative Analyst has published information on the three largest tax buckets for September returns. In short, it’s good news: the income, corporation, and sales tax returns have come in $4 billion over expectations, indicating some positive points for the still-in-trouble state budget.

If you have somehow managed to still find the energy to nerd out on the election, here’s a nifty breakdown of state races to watch.

Local:

San Diego is dangerously close to the Purple tier. The adjusted case rate has reached 7.0, extremely close to the Purple tier threshold of 7.1 per 100,000 residents. This week, high testing rates pushed San Diego over the state median testing rate and saved us from moving up a tier.

According to a new SANDAG report, $12.4 billion will be lost in gross regional product this year. The majority of regional unemployment was in the tourism industry, with 77,700 jobs lost in the first six months of the pandemic. Tourism, retail, and education represent 80% of overall COVID-related unemployment.

Foodies rejoice! Council has officially named the Convoy area in Kearny Mesa the “Convoy Pan Asian Cultural and Business Innovation District.” This represents a significant move for the district to brand, evolve, and continue to build the earning income for the area as a formally established BID.

It continues to be a seller’s market, as housing prices climbed to yet another record level in September. San Diego’s new median home price is, gulp, $650,000. However, mortgage rates have dropped even lower, hitting an average of 2.8% for a fixed-rate 30-year mortgage.

The County Board of Supervisors will meet next week on Tuesday, October 27 (agenda here) and Wednesday, October 28 (agenda here). On Tuesday, the board will receive an update on the county’s COVID-19 response and ratify any related actions. In addition, the board will adopt the 2021 Legislative Program. Information on how to participate in the teleconference, view online, or submit comments can be found here.

Capital Opportunities & Resources:

  • 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.
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