Legislative Update – March 18


It’s not just St Patrick’s Day that has you seeing green. The possibility of a new, shiny, green tier was floated by Governor Newsom’s office that has us thinking 1) probably need to figure out if our clothes still fit, but 2) the end of this craziness might really be coming!

And to help speed us along to Green-Land, check out the Chamber’s Time to Vaccinate campaign and pledge your company to join the effort. Employers have a part to play in our recovery and vaccine roll out, join us!

We are only a few days away from our virtual Sacramento Summit! It’s not too late to register and hear from our state leadership on business issues, workforce needs, and housing and infrastructure. We also included a free bonus session on effective advocacy in today’s landscape with USC UC Berkeley and Pepperdine professor Dan Schnur.

Business News

Chamber member Stone Brewing is planning for growth amidst the pandemic. CEO Maria Stipp is doubling down on maximizing the local market to get Stone to the number one craft beer in Southern California. Part of that strategy was opening a distribution center in San Marcos last month, and innovating new craft beers.

Homebuilding trended upward in 2020, despite the pandemic related economic downturn. There was an 18% increase in new homes built compared to 2019, but San Diego still needs to build more to meet housing needs. According to real estate analyst Gary London, 20,000 homes need to be built annually to match demand.

Qualcomm has completed their acquisition of NUVIA, a CPU and technology design company. The $1.4 billion deal will help Qualcomm incorporate CPUs in new products ranging from laptops to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.

The Padres are launching temporary pop up shops throughout San Diego to sell gear (including Padres facemasks) for the next month, just in time to catch a game (at 20% capacity).  Check out the locations here.

Legislative Update


He’s in! California AG Xavier Becerra was confirmed as HHS Secretary on a thin margin in the Senate. Next up: who takes the AG spot?

More President Biden cabinet nominees confirmed: Marcia Fudge has been named Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, Deb Haaland has been named Secretary of the Interior – the first Native American to lead in a cabinet role, Isabel Guzman as Small Business Administrator, and Katherine Tai has been confirmed overwhelmingly as the U.S. Trade Representative, making her the first woman of color in the role.

The IRS extended the filing deadline to May 17 due to the late changes to tax laws from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). (To answer your next question, the state followed suit and has also postponed)…Speaking of the ARP, it was long. Like, so long that this handy summary is 79 pages long.

This week, the House passed PPP extension legislation that is now off to the Senate for consideration. In short, it moves the deadline to apply for PPP loans from March to May, and would allow for PPP distribution through June, giving more businesses who find themselves in need more time to take advantage.

Moderna has begun testing its vaccine in young children, called the KidCOVE study in the US and Canada. And all jokes aside, let’s all root for these brave young people and celebrate their continued health. San Diego loves you!

Trump’s Public Charge rule was rescinded by the Biden administration, but the fight has been playing out in the courts since. On Monday, the 7th Circuit said “no thanks” to the 14 states, led by Texas, that banded together to argue that the rule should be revived.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau has told banks hands off those stimulus checks! As the money begins finding its way into bank accounts, banks and creditors have been warned not to step in for debts owed as the relief money hits.

FEMA is finalizing the roll out of funeral reimbursement for COVID deaths.

The SEC is asking for your help! No seriously, the Acting Director of the SEC Allison Herren Lee, is requesting the public’s guidance to update their 2010 Environmental, Social & Governance investment to better include advances in science and climate change.

The House will vote on two immigration bills today: The Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Modernization Workforce Act. These are two smaller pieces of the comprehensive immigration reform that the BIden administration is attempting to pass. The Dream and Promise Act seeks to provide a pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients and those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The Farm Modernization Act would provide a temporary protected status or green cards for undocumented agricultural workers in the US, depending on how long they’ve worked. Earlier versions of these bills passed the House last session, but were not taken up in the Senate.


One year after Mexico declared COVID-19 as a national emergency, lucha libre wrestlers took things in their own hands to enforce health protocols in Mexico City. Individuals were reminded to wear a face covering and use hand sanitizer by a large group of wrestlers that sprayed sanitizer on whoever wasn’t following these precautionary measures .

Last Friday, President Biden met virtually with the leaders of Australia, Japan and India and announced the upcoming launch of a working group to help set standards on 5G, artificial intelligence, and other technologies, as well as examine supply chains to prevent shortages of critical materials. A joint statement is available here.

Idaho Senator Jim Risch led a coalition re-introducing the Strengthening Trade, Regional Alliances, Technology, and Economic and Geopolitical Initiatives Concerning China Act (STRATEGIC Act). Among other things, the bill aims to address China’s economic practices that are said to distort global markets and impact U.S. businesses, such as intellectual property theft and government subsidies, and increase technology collaboration with allies and partners.

The Biden administration is delaying implementation of a previous rule regarding the prioritization of H1-B visas. The controversial rule from USCIS has been delayed until December 2021, but if it doesn go into effect (and it still might) it would shift from H1-B visas being randomly selected to prioritizing applications from higher-earning workers.

The Bush Institute recently released the Smart Border Policy for the 21st Century report outlining recommendations for a comprehensive approach to border policy. These recommendations were developed through a series of roundtable discussions with experts on immigration, trade, and law enforcement including the Chamber.

A cautionary tale from Israel’s experiment with “vaccine passports”: not everyone loves them.

The temporary restrictions on non-essential travel across shared ports of entry between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico were extended for an additional thirty days to April 21. At the Chamber, we continue to advocate for an end to these restrictions which continue to harm our economy.


Governor Newsom had some ideas this week about who he would appoint to fill Senator Feinstein’s seat. Senator Feinstein had some ideas about how she wasn’t going anywhere. And then Newsom was all “yeah, what she said.”

In “strange, but I guess that tracks” news: a theme park association is asking visitors to avoid screaming on roller coasters as they begin to inch towards reopening.


We are back in the red tier! On Wednesday, San Diego joined nine other counties moving out of the purple tier, one year after stay at home orders were introduced. Some restaurants are already hiring staff to prepare, ready to get back to business and begin San Diego’s economic recovery. Review the changes here.

Tip your caps when you open your taps to former Chamber Board Member Peter MacLaggan who is retiring after nearly 40 years in the water industry.

The county is currently vaccinating Phase 1B Tier 1: food and agriculture, childcare and education, and emergency services. Beginning this Monday, vaccination eligibility expanded to include people ages 16-64 with one or more health conditions. Review the eligibility guidance here.

If you’ve already been vaccinated, great! Here’s what you can do safely.

Check out the KPBS pandemic anniversary piece: One Year On: The Impact of COVID in San Diego. The feature includes a piece on the impact of the pandemic on small businesses, citing Harvard and Brown research finding small business revenue dropped by almost 30% this year.

The county is expecting updated industry guidance from the state on Friday. We’ll be tracking for any updates.

County Board of Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher wants your feedback on how to spend the $650 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan. If you live in District 4, fill out the feedback form here or attend the virtual meeting today at 6 pm.

The Petco Park Superstation will close permanently this weekend, and vaccines will be available at the 5 other superstations in La Jolla, Chula Vista, La Mesa, San Marcos and Del Mar. An additional superstation will be opening in Oceanside on Tuesday.

California’s Cannabis Equity Grants Program recently awarded the City of San Diego and the County $75,000 each in funding for a cannabis equity assessment and support for the development of a cannabis equity program. The grants will go towards a data-driven assessment on the historical impacts of the criminalization of marijuana, and use the findings to promote diversity and access in the cannabis industry. The program awarded $15 million in grant funding for local jurisdictions throughout the state.

The MTS Board has voted to lower fares for youth and allow free bus and trolley transfers.

MTS has also launched #EatShopPlaySD, which gives you rewards for shopping local and helps businesses recover from pandemic related shutdowns. Check out the locations and special offers updated each week.

The first greenway opened last week in East Village. The strip replaced a travel lane on 14th street, designed to encourage a more walkable downtown and connect pedestrians with nearby neighborhoods, parks, and waterfronts. The entire greenway network is years in the making, but this is a first step towards making the Downtown San Diego Mobility Plan a reality.

Last Saturday, industry guidance was adjusted to allow breweries, wineries and distilleries to serve alcohol without food.

The City of San Diego’s Board of Building Appeals and Advisors is seeking applications to fill a few vacancies.

On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors approved the lease to develop a distribution warehouse intended for Amazon in El Cajon.

The County press briefing this week has been moved to today at 2:30. Tune in on YouTube, Facebook Live and Twitter.

Former Port of San Diego real estate guru, Penny Maus, has been picked to lead the City of San Diego’s Real Estate Assets Department.

So you’re saying there’s a chance, San Diego Unified? In the latest installment of the push/pull dynamic between fed up parents and school districts, San Diego Unified announced its reopening portal, committing to the April 12th open date with the option of 6-hour school days 4 days a week.

Carlos Cortez,  current President of the San Diego College of Continuing Education, has been named the Chancellor of San Diego Community College District.

The County of San Diego is seeking a new Director of Planning & Development Services. A first review of resumes will be held the week of April 19, 2021. This important position oversees a department of over 200 employees that advise the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission on land use projects, policies and programs. Kathleen Flannery has been the Acting Director since February.

Upcoming Hearings

  • SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on March 26 at 9:00am
  • San Diego City Council will be in legislative recess from March 22-31
  • State Legislature will be in legislative recess upon adjournment of session beginning March 25-April 4

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) have been extended to March 31, 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 is open as of 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.