Legislative Update – October 8

October 8 – Weekly Update

Today is San Diego County’s annual “Check Your Mood Day”, a reminder to check your emotional well-being and screen for depression. Check out Live Well San Diego’s free mental health resources and online self-assessment here.  The way this year has been, we could all use a reminder to prioritize our mental health and reach out to support our friends and family.

Got an old computer gathering dust? Donate it to the “Meet the Need Computer Drive” and help local students access their virtual school. The Meet the Need Computer Drive is a month-long computer donation effort by the Chamber, Cox California, and the San Diego County Office of Education to benefit Computers 2 Kids, a non-profit that refurbishes unwanted technology and gives it to local families in need. This is a great way to do some 2020-cleaning AND help set up local students for success.. (Fun fact- if you’re doing an office-wide computer upgrade, you can donate all your old gear).

No pressure, Pads, but it’s fair to say the collective San Diego mood is being carried by the Padres and their exciting entree into postseason in a year that has little to be excited about. After a score of, well let’s not get into it, the Tuesday night game left a few deflated, and last night we were THIS CLOSE… but this just means it’s time to get serious, people. Find that lucky underwear. Do a quick rain dance. Cross fingers AND toes. Let’s make it happen tonight!

Mail-in ballots are arriving this week. This year, there are about 1.9 million registered voters in San Diego county (are you one of them? Check here.) If you’re not voting by mail, options for voting in person have changed. Instead of the usual 1,600 polling stations spread throughout the county, there will be 235 “superpoll locations” open for four days. For mail-in ballots, there are 126 drop-off locations. For more information, read here. Don’t forget to check out our voter guide, where we endorsed the best candidates and policies for the business community.

Business News:

Last Wednesday, SDG&E launched a $107.4 million program to help businesses transition their fleets and equipment to zero-emissions, called “Power Your Drive for Fleets”. The program aims to build charging stations throughout the region to help meet state greenhouse gas emission reductions. Additionally, SDG&E plans to replace all of its vehicles with internal combustion engines to 100% zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

Inovio, a biotech firm headquartered in Pennsylvania, has been using its San Diego lab to work on its DNA based COVID-19 vaccine. The Phase 2 trial is currently on hold due to FDA requests for more information. If the trials go well, it could be the first DNA-based vaccine to receive federal approval.

The San Diego business community is stepping up to help small businesses affected by the pandemic. The Downtown San Diego Partnership has raised over $50,000 for small business relief by selling discounted gift cards for all our favorite local restaurants, coffee shops, retail, and more. The second round of their Downtown Loyalty program is currently underway.  AT&T has donated $50,000 to the Asian Business Association of San Diego to address both the economic challenges and xenophobia faced by Asian small business owners during the pandemic.

Last week, San Diego based company Quidel received USDA approval for a 15-minute nasal swab test that determines if someone has COVID-19 or the flu. Tests are already being shipped and estimated to cost users around $30.

The San Diego Foundation and the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce launched the Black Community Investment Fund. Grantmaking will focus on education, employment, entrepreneurship and housing for Black San Diegans. Seed funding was provided by the San Diego Foundation, SDG&E, Wells Fargo Bank, and Cox Communications.

San Diego will soon take part in its third COVID-19 vaccine study. Johnson and Johnson launched their international trial on September 23, and plan to enroll 3,500 San Diegans through UC San Diego and M3 Wake Research. Research sites will be in the City of San Diego and National City to expand access to trial participation and ensure racial and ethnic diversity.

Legislative Update:


We know you know this already, but given that this is a COVID/legislative newsletter, we’ve got to say it: President Trump, the First Lady, and a growing number of other White House insiders and leadership have tested positive for COVID-19.

Pelosi and Mnuchin have still not reached an agreement on a federal coronavirus relief package, even after President Trump tweeted an encouraging message to “WORK TOGETHER AND GET IT DONE.”  Last Thursday, the House passed the Democrats $2.2 trillion version of the plan. On Wednesday morning, Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the negotiations were off. With a Supreme Court confirmation and the election less than a month away, the chances of a stimulus package passing before November is looking slim.

The Labor Department released its September jobs report last Friday, showing a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.9% from 8.4% last month. Employment increased by 661,000, particularly in leisure and hospitality, retail, social services, and business services.


The State of Baja announced the reopening of bars up to a 50% capacity. Mass events and nightclubs remain prohibited until further notice. Businesses are required to comply with health protocols based on their size, operation, and industry. An update on Baja’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, as well as information on the state’s reopening status, is shared daily by Baja’s Secretary of Health, Dr. Alonso Perez Rico, and Baja Governor Jaime Bonilla through official social media accounts (Twitter | Facebook).

The Mexican Federal Government signed an agreement of collaboration with the private sector to advance a joint economic reactivation plan including 39 multi sector projects that represent a $13.9 Billion investment. Mexico’s Secretary of Treasury Arturo Herrera stated new projects will be carefully reviewed and incorporated into the agreement as they move forward with the economic reactivation plan. The list of projects includes the Otay Mesa East Land Port of Entry (Otay II) in our region, which is scheduled to begin construction works on the Mexican side of the border in December 2021.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the relocation of services previously provided at the Port of San Diego’s service counter and cargo unit to the CBP offices at the San Diego International Airport effective October 11. All bonded warehouse functions will be transferred to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. For more information, please contact the San Diego Cargo/Vessel Operations at POSDCargoTeam@cbp.dhs.gov and/or the CBP Post Audit Team at the Otay Mesa POE at SanDiegoPostAudit@cbp.dhs.gov.

New operating hours have also been implemented at the Otay Mesa Cargo Facility to maximize the flow of commercial traffic: 6:00am to 10:00pm Monday through Friday, and 8:00am to 4:00pm on weekends and observed holidays.

The Department of Homeland Security announced changes to the H-1B nonimmigrant visa program which will:

  • significantly limit the number of jobs that qualify for the program and the degrees that qualify an applicant
  • require employers to increase wages to H-1B workers; and shorten the length of visas for certain contract workers.

Nonimmigrant visa programs, such as the H-1B, support skilled workers, research, and investment while allowing employers to fill gaps in their workforce and remain globally competitive. The Chamber issued a letter to the administration in support of nonimmigrant visa programs.

U.S.-Mexico Border Water and Wastewater Market Intelligence Roundtable

The Chamber, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Water Environment Federation, will co-host the U.S.-Mexico Border Water and Wastewater Market Intelligence Roundtable. The virtual meeting will take place Thursday, October 22 from 10:00am to 12:00pm PST. This event is designed to ease market entry and bolster exports for U.S. water technologies, products, and services along the U.S.-Mexico border. Attendance is free but registration is required.

International Tribute Awards

Registration is now open for this year’s International Tribute Awards taking place virtually on Tuesday, December 1. 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!


Tick, Tock…. October 15 is the deadline for the state to determine whether or not the feds will come through with stimulus money that can stave off some dramatic budget cuts. The President has been enthusiastically in favor of, and in opposition to, federal stimulus…  all within a matter of days. Check out his aforementioned Twitter for the full breakdown on the changing dynamic of his opinion if you’re feeling curious.

On Wednesday of this week, Governor Newsom issued an executive order in line with the “innovative spirit” of California designed to conserve 30 percent of land and coastal water by 2030. This pledge calls for state agencies to pursue innovative actions, strategies and partnerships to maximize the full climate benefits of our natural and working land.

Unemployment is still “in utter chaos”, despite the two-week break in processing unemployment claims. Systemic flaws in California’s unemployment insurance program have finally caught up, resulting in attempts to hire thousands more personnel to address thousands of unresolved/unprocessed claims.

Last Thursday was the end of the legislative session. These included the creation of a task force to study reparation proposals for African Americans, sponsored by San Diego Assemblymember Shirley Weber. Additionally, SB 1301 will require the California EPA to create an action plan with a binational strategy for the Tijuana River Valley Watershed. Other bills extended employee protections, like AB 2399, which expands paid family leave for military members and their families. AB 1947 extends the time employees can file a complaint with the California Division of Labor, and AB 3075 requires successor companies to be accountable for unpaid wages.

Governor Newsom has outlined additional criteria for county tier movement- adding an equity metric for large jurisdictions, including San Diego. Essentially, this means that in order to move to a more permissive tier, counties must be taking steps to address disparities amongst all communities. It is well documented that Black and Hispanic populations are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and are more vulnerable to negative health outcomes.

The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank is creating a new small business loan fund called the California Rebuilding Fund. The fund will loan money to small businesses affected by COVID through California Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). Read here to learn more, or attend the California Rebuilding Fund Webinar on October 13.

The state’s nonpartisan 2020 redistricting commission has hired its first full-time employee- Executive Director Daniel Claypool.


San Diego stays in the Red Tier with the adjusted case rate at 6.5 per 100k residents, a slight decrease from last week. The adjusted case rate needs to be below 4.0 to make it to the Orange Tier. Keep wearing those masks!

The Port of San Diego just finished its $24 million makeover. The redevelopments will allow the port to better handle specialty cargo, increase overall cargo capacity, and spur new business. The modernization has already helped the port secure new deals with Zucarmex, a sugar producer, and G2Ocean, a transatlantic shipping line.

The County Board of Supervisors will meet next week on Tuesday, October 13 (agenda here) and Wednesday, October 14 (agenda here). On Tuesday, the board will receive an update on the county’s response to COVID-19 and ratify any related actions. In-person attendance is still prohibited. 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.
  • San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Grant – Businesses must have fewer than 100 employees, be headquartered in San Diego County, have a 1-year operating history, and have experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to be eligible. Apply here.
    • Applications are due on the following dates:
      • Districts 3 & 4 – October 16
      • Districts 1, 2, and 5 deadlines have passed
    • 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.