Legislative Update – May 20


Quick hits: California says masks are still required until June 15th (no, just because Trader Joe’s says they’re not requiring masks anymore it doesn’t trump the state guidance, sorry). The City of San Diego has blessed dining el fresco until mid-2022. UFO’s are real, and people seem to be….okay? The Padres continue to flex on the competition.

Business News

The California Cable & Telecommunications Association (CCTA) has released a new report on the extent to which unserved households lack broadband access, indicating that 93,000 CA households will remain without broadband after the ongoing federal Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) projects are complete. As of December 19, 2019, about 462,000 households were found to be unserved within the state–having no Internet at the 25/3 megabit speed. After both projects, it is projected that “less than 1% of California households will continue to lack access to high-speed broadband,” noted Carolyn Mcintyre, President of the CCA, who went on to stress the importance of completely closing Calfironia’s digital divide.

The state legislature has introduced numerous broadband bills, some with price tags as high as billions of dollars, but many do little to remove existing barriers to broadband adoption–the most significant cause of broadband inequality. Mcintyre urged the need for further data-based solutions that would ultimately serve to bring broadband access to all California residents.

Downtown San Diego will be welcoming a Target soon! Shopping break anyone? We’re not saying downtown productivity is going to drop, but we’re not NOT saying that.

The County of San Diego is holding a COVID-10 Safe Businesses Practices Certification Course to prepare businesses to provide a safe environment for their employees and customers on June 3 and 4. Learn more at the course website, and register here. You can also request to hold a vaccination event here.

Chamber Board Member Alessandra Lezama was featured in the UT for her op-ed “The U.S. child-care system fails families, children and businesses. It needs to be rebuilt.”

Beginning in June, Southwest will be adding more nonstop flights from Hawaii to San Diego. This will be part of a greater Southwest initiative to launch nonstop flights to Hawaii from numerous locations throughout the Western United States.

Chamber member Inovio Pharmaceuticals is working on a vaccine that could work against various strains of SARS-CoV-2. Currently, scientists are working to modify vaccines for specific viral variants. The pan-vaccine, INO-4802 is still in early stages, but signals a potential new strategy for future vaccine development.

$$$ The SBA Restaurant Revitalization Fund application deadline is May 24. Review application assistance with this on-demand webinar from the SBDC.

Legislative Update


Beginning July 15, the IRS will begin delivering a monthly child benefit of $300 per month for children under 6 and $250 per month for children over 6 for the remainder of the year – no action required. The benefit decreases for parents making over $75,000 per year and couples making over $150,000 per year. Calculate how much you’ll receive here.

Two meetings so far, but no progress on that infrastructure deal. President Biden has twice met with Republicans but there’s nothing to report about getting closer to something that can get bipartisan votes.

The IRS continues to give the gift of headaches and stress. It has a backlog of 335,000 2019 returns (down from 7 million) that are still waiting to be processed. That’s particularly problematic for folks who are dependent on credits and returns. But the President is now considering a dramatic increase of IRS staff so that anyone skipping out on paying taxes can be nailed down.


Mexican software engineer Andrea Meza was crowned Miss Universe 2021. Born and raised in the border state of Chihuahua, she also serves as the state’s tourism ambassador and works closely with the local Institute for Women as a fierce advocate for women’s rights. In other beauty queen news, former miss universe Lupita Jones continues to hold on in the race to become Baja’s next governor. Marina del Pilar, the MORENA party’s candidate, continues to lead surveys followed by Tijuana businessman and former mayor Jorge Hank Rhon.

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  June 21. There’s hope: U.S. and Mexican federal authorities are working to increase flexibility on restrictions starting June 22 based on the propagation indexes of COVID-19 and the number of vaccines administered on both sides of the border. As part of our ongoing efforts urging the Biden administration to lift border restrictions, the Chamber shared an overview of the negative impacts these restrictions have had on our business community with DHS Secretary Mayorkas following a virtual meeting he held with Mayor Gloria to discuss the economic implications of restrictions on San Diego’s economy.

In happier news,  the European Union agreed to reopen its borders to visitors who have been fully vaccinated with an approved shot and to those coming from a list of countries considered safe from a coronavirus perspective. The new rules are set to become a formal policy next week.

Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar introduced a bill to establish a Land Port of Entry Modernization Trust Fund. H.R. 3028 would create a trust fund within the U.S. Treasury for investments in land ports of entry (LPOE) to build new ports; expand and improve existing LPOEs to accommodate high volumes of commercial, private vehicle, and pedestrian traffic; procure technology and supporting infrastructure to facilitate inspection and processing; facilitate major repairs; and hire CBP officers, agricultural specialists, and professional staff to support the trade and revenue mission of CBP.

The Chamber’s upcoming International Business Affairs Forum will take place virtually on Thursday, June 17 at 10:00am. Register here to hear from experts and industry leaders who will share an overview of efforts to improve air quality in our region, cross-border collaboration, and the role the business sector plays in achieving this goal.

The EPA will host a public meeting this Monday, May 24 at 1:00p.m. to provide an update on the evaluation of infrastructure projects to support a comprehensive solution to transboundary pollution issues in our region. This follows the agency’s work assessing a list of 10 projects to reduce transboundary polluted flows. Click here to join the meeting.


CalOSHA released proposed guidance last week, which we told you was very confusing. They met this morning and are still going at time of send, unfortunately for the staff tracking this item. Key points the Chamber looked for further clarification include: guidance on how businesses are supposed to track who is or is not vaccinated (yes, you’ll likely have to do this so get your very secure folders ready); should we anticipate expansion of these policies toward other infectious diseases?; Don’t even get us started on the N95 requirements.

Holy data, batman! If you’re watching Workers’ Compensation trends related to COVID (because why wouldn’t you?) you should really be aware of the information that the organization is collecting and analyzing. Check out this interactive site.

Po-tay-toe, Po-tah-toe. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has said that the state surplus is actually $38 million, not the $75 billion that the Governor has ambitiously doled out in his May Revise. But worry not, it’s mostly just definitional differences. But for those of you not watching the spending plan here’s some of the toplines: $500 in a college savings account for kids in low-income families (does he know how much college costs?); $12B in homeless solutions; $1.75B for shovel-ready affordable housing projects; $1.5B for small business grants; and $20B in childhood supports like expanded preschool and after-school programming.

Governor Gavin Newsom joined Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins & San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo to sign SB 7, the Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2021, which fast-tracks affordable housing developments through the environmental review process. The Chamber was proud to register support for this bill.

Senate Pro Tem Atkins and her counterpart Assembly Speaker Atkins told legislators yesterday that they will be limited to twelve bills each. Great news for people tracking legislation, probably a big damper on the enthusiasm of the legislators though.


The median home price in San Diego County rose to a whopping $825,120 in April. Yikes.

Mayor Gloria introduced his May Revise this week. The updated version addresses concerns about library cuts (rolled back), but keeps some items like $14 million targeted at return to work. Of note- councilmembers will have grant funds available for small businesses in their district. We’ll get more information on how to apply soon.

The San Diego City Council approved the interim urgency ordinance to allow businesses to continue temporary outdoor operations and services until July 2022. The City’s Planning Department will bring forward a permanent solution (Spaces as Places) for City Council to consider sometime in the fall.

The San Diego City Council also approved lifting the deed restrictions on UCSD’s East Campus expansion plan. The proposed projects in the plan will generate $82 million in revenues for the City of San Diego during the first 20 years as well as more than 11,000 new direct and indirect jobs. The Chamber was pleased to speak in support.

The County Board of Supervisors heard a number of items earlier this week, including:

  • Directed staff to explore a list of items on implementing and mitigating SB 743 (Vehicle Miles Traveled) in the future. The Board acknowledged the potential impacts changes could have on future development in the unincorporated area. The Chamber, along with many industry stakeholders, will continue to discuss potential solutions with the Board and staff as they evaluate the options further.
  • Approved Chair Nathan Fletcher & Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer’s proposal to create an Office of Evaluation, Performance, and Analytics to oversee the focus on evidence-based policy.
  • Approved Vice Chair Nora Vargas’ proposal to create an office of Environmental and Climate Justice to engage and aid environmental justice communities with programs and services.

SANDAG is encouraging the public to participate in their 2021 Regional Plan workshop tomorrow (5/20) where they will provide an overview of each component of the Plan. They anticipate that the draft 2021 Regional Plan will be released for public comment on May 28. For a full list of projects included in the draft, please click here. To stay in the loop, subscribe to receive updates here.

We are partnering with the US Chamber to host the next Common Grounds event featuring Reps Scott Peters (D-CA) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) to discuss their bipartisan work on energy and climate policy. The event will be next Thursday, May 27 at 8 am PST, you can register here.

Masks on for 3 (ish) more weeks, everyone. San Diego County will wait with the state until June 15 to adopt CDC mask guidance.

Cannabis workers at three San Diego region dispensaries have voted to unionize, a new development for the area. The locations can be found at Vista, Imperial, and San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood and are all owned by the cannabis company March and Ash. The contract was approved at a staggering rate of almost ninety percent and is sure to set a precedent for future contracts to follow. Stipulations include an hourly wage floor of seventeen dollars, profit-sharing measures, and a $30,000 company contribution to workers’ childcare and education expenses.

A UCSD team is working on the first known clinical trial in which cannabis is being used as a potential treatment for migraines. Many patients have already turned to cannabis products with THC and/or CBD to treat their migraines, notes UCSD neurologist Dr. Nathaniel Schuster. However, evidence-based data is still lacking as to how cannabis truly addresses these issues. Future studies will compare different doses of cannabinoids.

Upcoming Hearings

  • SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on May 21.
  • San Diego City Council will meet on May 25.
  • City of San Diego’s Planning Commission will meet on June 3.
  • County Board of Supervisors will be in budget hearing mode on May 26May 27.
  • County of San Diego Planning Commission will meet on June 11.

Capital Opportunities & Resources

    • Round SIX of GO-Biz grant  closed on May 4 – Notifications began on May 7. Details here… AND webinars explaining how to apply for future rounds and how it works here.
    • The CARES Act Revolving Loan Fund provides assistance for eligible expenses to businesses in the City of San Diego and City of Chula VIsta impacted by the pandemic.
    • 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.