Legislative Update – March 11


California may be loosening the requirements to go to less restrictive tiers as of Friday. Knock on wood and cross those fingers, but the efforts to vaccinate 2 million people from specific zip codes (a requirement covered in last week’s newsletter) is at 1.9 million people now.

President Biden has just signed the American Rescue Plan. Totaling $1.9 trillion, the plan has a little something for everyone- which was one of the main complaints against it from Republican lawmakers as the package passed on party line votes (one House Democrat did vote with Republicans). If you’re one of the eligible people for the stimulus checks of $1400, you can expect those to be deposited as early as this weekend. (Don’t forget to #ShopLocal!)

Business News

SDGE was approved to eliminate their high usage charge by the California Public Utilities Commission last week, helping customers stabilize their energy bills throughout the year.

Small business optimism inched up in February according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Health Care Committee Vice Chair, Vernita Todd with San Ysidro Health, was named to the Health Professionals Education Foundation Board of Trustees. Congrats to an outstanding leader.

Legislative Update


Some of the hardest hit industries will receive some much needed targeted assistance under the American Rescue Plan. The package includes a $28.6 billion revitalization fund for restaurants, $1.25 billion in grants for venue operators, and $3 billion in payroll support for aviation manufacturing.

Appointments abound. Merrick Garland was confirmed to be Biden’s Attorney General. Michael Regan is the new EPA head. SEC pick, Gary Gensler, narrowly made it through the Senate Banking Committee.

A federal judge in Ohio set aside the CDC eviction moratorium, saying that he found that the agency to be outside its authority in issuing the ban. This is the second such finding against the moratorium.

On Monday, the CDC released guidance on what to do after you receive your vaccination. Fully vaccinated people can see other vaccinated people without a mask, and visit unvaccinated people from a single household with low risk for severe cases of COVID without masks or distancing. We are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel!

San Diego representatives introduced a bill on Tuesday to improve environmental protection along the border. The Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act aims to improve coordination between local, state and federal bodies.

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) act passed the House this week, on a vote of 225-206. It heads to the Senate now.


Harrison Ford, a.k.a. Indiana Jones and Han Solo, visited Tijuana last weekend. Local fans wondered where he parked the Millennium Falcon and hoped to catch a ride across the border to avoid the border wait and travel restrictions impacting our land ports of entry. The Chamber continues to advocate for an end to these restrictions which continue to harm our economy.

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) released Biden’s 2021 Trade Agenda and the 2020 Annual Report to Congress. Key elements include tackling COVID-19 and restoring the economy; promoting a global sustainable environmental and climate path; advancing racial equity and supporting underserved communities; and promoting equitable economic growth around the world. A summary is available here.

Also in USTR news, following the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the USTR has announced that they’ve finished tariff rate quota negotiations for the EU’s WTO.

On Wednesday, legislators in Mexico City passed a bill to legalize cannabis. The measure is expected to quickly pass the Senate, and President Lopez Obrador has already signaled support.

Congressman Juan Vargas joined members of the U.S.-Mexico Border Congressional Delegation to reintroduce the Binational Health Strategies Act of 2021. The bill is designed to protect border communities against COVID-19 by amending the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission Act to direct the Commission to assemble a report on the COVID-19 response along the border and create binational plans addressing the pandemic and future infectious diseases.

The Chamber is proud to partner with the UK Government Office in San Diego to host our upcoming International Business Affairs Forum featuring a virtual presentation and roundtable discussion with Greg Hands MP, UK Trade Minister of State for Trade Policy. The meeting will take place next Thursday, March 18 at 9:00am and highlight the UK-San Diego trade and investment relationship and explore new opportunities that may arise from a new trade agreement between both countries. The event is free but registration is required.


Last week, Governor Newsom announced a new equity metric that will be incorporated into reopening plans. 40% of all vaccines will be allocated to neighborhoods in the bottom quartile of the Health Equity Index. After 2 million people are vaccinated in these neighborhoods, adjustments will be made to allow easier transition to less restrictive tiers under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Soon after the governor’s announcement, Go-BIZ head Dee Dee Myers announced that beginning April 1, outdoor parks, theme parks and stadiums will be able to open with restrictions. Capacity will be adjusted according to county tiers, with 100 person limits for venues in the purple tier, and 20% capacity in the red tier. Padres game, anyone?

Earlier this week, the state launched a new volunteer initiative to allow anyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine by volunteering at vaccination sites. Check out the volunteer webpage, called MyTurn. 

Today, Governor Gavin Newsom’s office announced that Former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and champion of the universal basic income, will be advising the administration as Special Advisor for Economic Mobility and Opportunity.

CalCompetes Tax Credits are accepting applications for just over $70 million in tax credits for businesses that are hiring or expanding. More here.


As of Tuesday, we are still in the purple tier with an adjusted case rate of 8.8 per 100,000 residents (so close to the 7 case threshold). We expect to be in the red tier by next Tuesday, if the state reaches its first goal of vaccinating 2 million residents in the vaccine equity quartile. Once the first goal is met, an adjusted case rate of 10 per 100,000 would allow a county to move to the red tier, instead of the current 7 cases per 100,000 resident threshold. Review the updated activity and business tiers under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy here.

San Diego is currently vaccinating those working in emergency services, child care and education, food handling and agriculture. However, the County does not yet have a contract with Blue Shield, and supply limitations continue to frustrate those who are eligible but cannot get an appointment.

San Diego Unified continues to play with the emotions of frazzled parents. The April 12th reopen date is now a sort of “maybe, and only if” situation. It’s fine. We’re fine. (Fun fact: California state law doesn’t actually permit distance learning and the current scenario is only occurring due to a legislative waiver that expires in June. Lawmakers will take up whether to extend that waiver, and by how long, in their budget process).

On Monday, the Johnson and Johnson vaccine arrived in San Diego. The single dose vaccine was 72% effective in research trials – but is 100% effective against hospitalizations and deaths. San Diego has also administered over one million vaccinations, let’s keep it going.

Thank you, American Rescue Plan! San Diego expects to receive $300 million in federal funding, covering an estimated $240 million budget deficit from lost tourism revenue. Around $40-60 million will be left over and used for COVID programming, as well small business relief, housing, and infrastructure improvements.

Do you live in the 79th Assembly District? Early voting for the 79th State Assembly District’s Special Primary Election has begun. Five candidates are running for the seat now since Dr. Shirley Weber was appointed California Secretary of State back in January.

The County of San Diego’s draft sixth cycle 2021-2029 housing element is now up for public review.  This important update hopes to reflect the County’s General Plan Vision and Guiding Principles and will provide housing policies and programs to implement those policies. While state law requires that an element be adopted by April 2021, they do allow a 120-day grace period for jurisdictions to comply.

Public comment is open until May 11.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Housing Element, please email Chamber staff, Angeli Calinog.

San Diego, the largest Coast Guard City, is hosting the annual State of the Coast Guard today. Tune in to hear Admiral Karl Schultz reflect on the past year and outline the future of the Coast Guard. Special shout out to Josh Coyne for making sure the Coast Guard City banners were up on North Harbor Drive to celebrate today.

Beginning March 22, the 700 homeless people at the San Diego Convention Center will be moving to other shelters. Supervisor Fletcher has discussed plans to use the convention center as a vaccination site.

12 zip codes in San Diego qualify for additional vaccine doses under the new state guidance to set aside 40% of doses for communities in the bottom quartile of the Healthy Places Index. Make sure you’re checking to see if you, or members of your team, are eligible.

On Tuesday, City Council voted on developing a climate equity fund to finance climate impact related projects in neighborhoods with low climate equity index scores. These include infrastructure projects like improving sidewalks, parks and streetlights. The climate equity index, developed in 2019, evaluates census tracts most impacted by climate change.

Upcoming Hearings

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • FOUR new funding rounds have been made available for businesses from GO-Biz. Details here.
  • Applications for the County of San Diego’s 2021 Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) are open March 15, 2021. Click here for more information on the County’s program.
  • The San Diego Housing Commission, along with the assistance of many Community Based Organizations, is administering the City of San Diego’s 2021 COVID-19 Housing Stability Assistance Program, which will officially open March 15, 2021. Interested applicants can sign up for more information here.
  • Apply for your first or second PPP Loan now! Learn more here.
  • City of Oceanside COVID-19 small business grant program: Small businesses able to demonstrate a loss in profit caused by the COVID crisis can qualify for a grant of $1,000 to $7,5000. Learn more and apply here.
  • 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) that were 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.