September 10, 2020
We added a new section this week: business news and major announcements. Let us know if you have some (preferably good) news to share.
Campaign ads have begun! T-61 days until election day everyone. Mail ballots go out on October 1, and the Chamber voter guide, which you are all excited to get your hands on, will be available soon. Speaking of… you may have heard some things lately about voting. Here’s some quick reminders:
- You can check your registration status here.
- Questions about the voting process in a pandemic? Here’s a nice guide.
- Only vote once. Seriously.
Additionally, we would like to draw your attention to a special city council meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 8. The council will hear two new ordinances proposed by Councilmember Chris Ward: temporary supplemental sick leave, and emergency recall and retention. Both proposals are remarkably similar to bills passed by the state on Monday, AB 1867 (supplemental sick leave) and AB 3216 (emergency recall and retention). If these bills are signed by the governor in the coming week (which is likely), the local conversation could be moot. However, it is still important that businesses provide feedback as these ordinances would be effective immediately, and with little education, if any, prior to enforcement. If you or your business has concerns about these policy proposals, please reach out to Rebecca at RLieberman@sdchamber.org.
Chamber member Alaska Airlines is one of the most recent airlines to join the crew of companies to permanently waive change fees for domestic flights. Alaska will also waive change fees on international flights. This applies to all their fares, expect the Saver fare (which is the cheapest).
Uber is now requiring some passengers to take a face-covering selfie. Non-face covered passengers who have been reported will have to take a selfie before riding. Drivers were already required to take a face-covering selfie before starting work.
Chamber board member Illumina received a chunk of NIH money to increase coronavirus testing.
Stone Brewing announced Maria Stipp will take the helm of the organization. Cheers! (we couldn’t help ourselves)
Curious about the payroll tax deferral that was part of the president’s controversial executive order a few weeks back? Good news, the IRS has issued guidance for businesses looking to take advantage of the opportunity. Bad news: it’s hard to say what the long-term impact will be. Larry Kudlow, Director of the United States National Economic Council, said the federal government will work to “forgive” those tax payments, meaning repayment won’t be necessary. But for that to be true, Congress will have to be unsuccessful in their near-term effort to overturn the EO, and the President will likely have to win reelection… making this a gamble for employers deciding whether or not to go for it. (Reminder: this is only through the end of December of this year, so the earlier you get up to speed, the better).
RELATED: Did you decide to opt in to the deferral? We’d like to learn more about why and how you’ll be implementing so we can help other members with similar questions. Feel free to respond to this email with that information.
Another prong from the executive order is being firmed up via a CDC directive regarding rents. In the 37 page directive, it outlines that evictions of tenants who cannot pay rent because of COVID are prohibited until the end of the year, and imposes criminal penalties for landlords who do not comply. Story here.
The US Department of Labor issued guidance for employers regarding tracking employee hours worked when they are teleworking, which has become the new norm for many.
The CDC made people excited when they told states to get ready for vaccine distribution in October/November. And while everyone is eagerly awaiting a vaccine to help us return to a new normal, public health experts are raising doubts about the super-expedited timeline.
Last week, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac earned the wrath of the industry by announcing an additional 50 basis point fee on all refinances. Originally set to go into effect on September 1, it was postponed until December thanks to mortgage industry outrage. If you’re one of the many thinking about a refi, the time is now.
It may give you some nostalgia or comfort to know that just like the years prior- we’re looking at legislation to avoid yet another government shutdown. The federal government needs to reach a deal by September 30 to avoid closure, and of course, there’s added pressure from the pending election too…
The Paycheck Protection Program continues to fall under scrutiny. A report published Tuesday by democratic staff on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis found numerous issues with how $3 billion was allocated.
Tuesday, the White House announced tours will resume starting Saturday, September 12. Facial coverings are required and you can request White House tours through your local congressional office.
The Chamber continues to advocate for reduced border wait times and ease in restrictions at the border which have been impacting our essential workforce. An effective way to mitigate the spread of this disease across our border is a coordinated binational effort around social distancing and mask wearing. While wait times have fluctuated since new protocols were put in place, we anticipate longer border wait times this holiday weekend. We advise those crossing for non-essential purposes to reconsider their plans. Please note that checkpoints at the Mexicali land ports of entry continue and authorities are verifying the use of face coverings, confirm that the trip’s purpose is essential, and conduct temperature checks for each passenger. In addition, there is a limit of two passengers per vehicle crossing southbound through Mexicali’s land ports of entry.
“You have a baby! In a (floor vote)!” For any Sweet Home Alabama fans, we hope that quote also popped into your head during the coverage of Assemblymember Buffy Wicks being forced to bring her newborn to the floor for a vote when she was denied the opportunity to proxy vote… Which is just a great example of childcare issues, pandemic problems, and the need to update governmental operations and technology rolled into one.
Anyway, the end-of-session excitement was even more… exciting (?) than usual this year. There was the f-bomb dropped by a Senator, numerous “bulls&@#!”s, hot mics, and last-minute legislation that had lawmakers and lobbyists working through the weekend and on Monday. One bill that garnered Chamber opposition was AB 1659 (Bloom), which would have extended a fee on SDG&E ratepayers to foot the bill for the state’s deficit to fund mitigation efforts not in San Diego. There was also a last-minute renter relief compromise, which like many compromises left plenty of organizations very unhappy. Matt Levin lays it out in CalMatters, but here’s a handy website from the state to help landlords and renters figure out how to proceed. But here’s a quick look at some other bills:
- Good news bills:
- AB 1845 (Luz Rivas) – Creates a statewide Office to End Homelessness led by a new Secretary of Homelessness, appointed by the governor. This new office will oversee the 30+ state programs targeted at solving this issue.
- AB 2257 (Gonzalez) – This is the first bill passed to include amendments to last year’s controversial AB 5. It establishes exemptions for photographers, performance artists, freelance writers, editors, newspaper cartoonists, translators, advisors, cartographers, underwriters, architects, and other professions. Most importantly, the bill codifies the business-to-business exemption between two sole proprietors.
- AB 2731 (Gloria) – Streamlines CEQA regulations for the development of the NAVWAR site adjacent to the Old Town Transit Center. This bill would authorize the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) to obtain site control to support the redevelopment of the Old Town Center site, including a transit and transportation facilities project, in the City of San Diego before completing the environmental review for those actions.
- Bad news bills:
- SB 1383 (Jackson) – Requires companies with 5 or more employees to grant employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to bond with a new child or care for a family member. The Cal Chamber lobbied hard to increase the employee threshold on this bill, as it will severely affect small and micro businesses.
- AB 685 (Reyes) – Mentioned last week, this bill requires employers to notify their workers and local health departments of COVID outbreaks and exposure. Additionally, it would allow Cal/OSHA to shut down worksites deemed hazardous.
- AB 3216 (Karla) – Establishes recall policies for certain hotels, event centers, airport personnel, and commercial buildings. This bill requires employers to offer laid-off employees preference for rehiring based on whether the employee previously held the position and how long the employee worked at the organization.
- Other bills of note:
- AB 3088 (Chiu) – Requires renters to pay 25% of their missed rent by February 2021 to prevent eviction and allows landlords to evict tenants for reasons other than unpaid rent caused by the pandemic. This bill codifies the state eviction moratorium while providing landlords with some financial reprieve.
- AB 979 (Holden) – Requires at least one person of color on corporate boards by December 2021. While the 2018 law mandating women on boards in the state received significant opposition, this bill garnered strong support and nearly no resistance.
- AB 1867 (Ting) – Requires supplemental paid sick leave be provided by employers with over 500 employees, mirroring language (without the credits) of FFCRA.
- SB 275 (Pan, Leyva) – Requires the state’s Department of Public Health and Office of Emergency Services to establish a personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile as necessary and establish guidelines regarding PPE during a 90-day pandemic or public health emergency. The bill also requires health care employers, clinics, health facilities, and home health agencies to maintain a 45-day inventory of new, unexpired PPE for a declared state of emergency as of January 1, 2023 (or one year after guidelines are established, whatever is later).
The Legislative Analyst’s Office has released an update about the state’s cash management. Surprisingly, it’s not all bad news.
Late last week, Governor Newsom announced new reopening guidelines that went into effect on Monday. The state will no longer be using the county monitoring list. Instead, the Department of Public Health has created a four-tiered system for monitoring virus conditions based on case rate, test positivity, and commitment to health equity. San Diego County is currently in Tier 2/Red/Substantial, meaning that some non-essential indoor businesses are allowed to open today with modifications and some at reduced capacity. In order to advance between tiers, counties must meet the updated metrics for two weeks. There is a 21-day waiting period between tier moves and counties must move one tier at a time. Tier status is assessed weekly beginning on September 8. Counties that fail to meet its current tier’s metrics for two consecutive weeks will be required to move back a tier. As was the case previously, local public health orders take precedence over state guidance and can be more restrictive but never less restrictive.
Industry-wide guidelines and an interactive platform detailing which businesses are open and with what modifications are available on the state’s new COVID guidance website: https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/
Parking enforcement in the City of San Diego is postponed, again. Mayor Faulconer announced full enforcement, which was scheduled to resume shortly, is postponed until October 1.
On Monday, as some indoor restrictions were lifted, the county asked businesses to update their safe reopening plans to comply with new state guidelines. If you have any questions there is a county Business Sector Briefing next Wednesday, September 9 from 9:30-10:30am. Questions must be submitted 24 hours in advance here. The county also monitors the chat for questions, but highly encourages submitting through the portal.
The county’s updated triggers for modifying the public health order, which aligns with the state’s new tier structure and requirements, can be viewed here. The triggers dashboard is viewable here.
Tuesday, a group of doctors from UCSD sent a letter to the county urging caution on reopening. The letter suggested delaying reopening until October 1 and cited concern over reopening before Labor Day weekend.
Yesterday at the county news briefing, SDSU announced they will pause in-person instruction and move to online instruction for the next four weeks due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. 64 total cases have been reported on and off campus since the start of the fall semester on August 24. Athletics programs will be paused for two weeks.
Capital Opportunities & Resources:
- NEW City of Oceanside Small Business Grant Program – Oceanside, in partnership with the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet Oceanside, is allocating over $3 million in CARES Act funding to small businesses affected by the pandemic. Learn more and apply here.
- NEW LISC Small Business grants round 6 are open for applications. Applications are due by Monday, September 7th. Apply here.
- Tomorrow is the last day to apply for the County of San Diego’s Childcare Provider Grant Program. Applications are due by 5:00pm PST. 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.
- San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Grant – Businesses must have fewer than 100 employees, be headquartered in San Diego County, have 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 City of Escondido has partnered with the San Diego North Economic Development Council to administer the Small Business Grant Program to Escondido small businesses. Learn more here.
- The State Treasurer’s Office has published this list of Federal, State, Local, Private, and Non-profit resources available to small businesses.
- Applications are due on the following dates:
International Business Affairs:
Join us at our next International Business Affairs taking place via zoom on Thursday, September 24th at 11:30am. The meeting will feature a conversation and Secretary Luis Faz Apodaca, appointed by State of Baja Governor Bonilla to lead Baja’s recently established Water Management, Sanitation, and Protection Agency (SEPROA). We will also hear from Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.
Secretary Faz Apodaca will provide an overview of SEPROA’s efforts to address transboundary water pollution impacting our binational region and their work to ensure water supply and service across the state. As they approach the end of a 60-day plan to remove an estimate of 300,000 cubic meters of sediment and solid waste along the Tijuana River channel, the State of Baja has announced that we have had seven consecutive days now without transboundary flows.
In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two near-term projects to help mitigate water pollution impacting our region. The agency will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) to divert additional water for treatment at the IBWC International Treatment Plant. The EPA is also partnering with the City of San Diego to rapidly develop and implement a permanent solution to better control sediment and trash at the border. This project will also help reduce flooding risk for the community. Funding for projects will be provided by the EPA’s Border Water Infrastructure Program (BWIP).
The University of San Diego’s Ahlers Center for International Business will host a series of webinars on the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) new trilateral agreement. The meetings will take place via zoom, and feature business leaders and experts who will provide an overview of the treaty’s benefits and economic opportunities. For more information, or to register, please visit the following websites:
- Thursday, October 1: “USMCA: New Thinking for North America”.
- Thursday, October 13: “The Cali-Baja Region and the USMCA: Opportunities and Challenges for Key Industries”.
- Thursday, October 20: “Doing Business with México Under the New USMCA”.