Legislative Update – November 4

Seems like our Legislative Lounge couldn’t have better timing. Our annual event to recognize the staff and elected officials who work hard to make San Diego the best place to live, work and play, comes at the end of yet another… how shall we say this… challenging year. Let’s all take it easy on the folks working in government, and remember: if you can’t say anything nice, maybe you just go for a walk or something. We hope you’ll join us!

Happy Diwali to those celebrating. Diwali celebrates light over darkness, good over evil, and is celebrated globally by over 1 billion people. On Wednesday, members of the House of Representatives discussed plans to introduce the Deepavali Day Act, making Diwali a federal holiday.

Business News

This week is Veterans Small Business Week at the Small Business Administration. Check out this week’s worth of free virtual events here.

The Sempra Foundation recently donated $500,000 to Fundacion Mozcalti, a Tijuana based nonprofit which provides clean energy stoves to communities throughout Mexico.

The County of San Diego is holding a free COVID-19 Safe Business Practices Certificate Training next Tuesday, November 9 from 9 am – 3 pm. Register here, and for more information please contact COVID-Business@sdcounty.ca.gov.

Salesforce is holding an on-demand webinar on vaccine attestation for federal employees and contractors. The mobile ready platform can support self service vaccine attestation to help streamline reporting requirements.

Congratulations, Cubic, for being named one of the 2021 Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America by Healthiest Employees! The award recognized companies that invest in health and wellbeing solutions and initiatives.

Gotta show your work, people. Kaiser is not accepting vaccine exemptions on a religious basis that have been cut and paste.

Chamber Member Verizon has launched Verizon Small Business Digital Ready, a free resource that will provide training, advice and other community-related content to give your small business a big-time boost. Click here to learn more.

Legislative Updates


Federal:
 

Federal vaccine guidance was announced today, and here’s what you should know:

  • Companies with 100 or more employees have until January 4 to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated or will test for COVID-19 once per week. Employee count should be a total of all workers at your company nationwide and includes part time or temporary employees.
  • Independent contractors, remote workers or those who work outdoors will not be subject to the OSHA requirements.
  • Employers are required to implement a policy on vaccination, which must require vaccination of all employees with the exception of 1) Those who cannot get the vaccine for medical reasons, 2) Those who need to delay the vaccine for medical reasons, and 3) Those who are entitled to reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious beliefs or a disability.
  • Healthcare workers do not have the option to test weekly, and are required to be fully vaccinated by the deadline.
  • Employers can choose how to obtain proof of vaccination status. They can view or copy the original vaccination card, receive a photocopied version or a photo of the card. Employers are required to maintain a copy of the vaccination proof.
  • Workers are required to get paid time off to get vaccinated. If an employee experiences side effects and has accrued sick time, the employer can require that the employee use that time to recover. However, if the employee has not accrued enough sick time, employers cannot require an employee to end up in the negative if they need additional time to recover. If the employee is vaccinated outside of work hours, the employer does not have to provide additional paid time or benefits.
  • Employers are not federally required to pay for their employees’ COVID-19 testing, however, in some states this may be different (California, for example).
  • For unvaccinated employees who do not regularly go to the physical workplace, the employer has to ensure they are tested for COVID-19 within seven days before returning to the workplace and submits documentation of that test result. If an employee has not tested, they cannot come to the workplace even if they wear a face covering and are physically distanced.
  • If any employee gets COVID-19, they do not have to undergo weekly testing for 90 days following the positive test.
  • Unvaccinated employees are required to wear masks.
  • Enforcement will fall on employers. Employers who fail to meet the OSHA requirements are subject to fines up to $13,653 per violation.

Full details on our updated Return to Work page.

There will be a week, sometime in the future, where there will not be a crazy update on the Build Back Better/Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill dynamics. But that week is not this week… So: After slimming down the BBB bill in a way that really upset progressives, some items have been reinserted. Those are LIHTC provisions, four weeks of paid family and medical leave, SALT, and a deal on drug pricing, among others.

Policy wonks, rejoice: Somebody made a spreadsheet with around 100 of the bill’s climate and environmental justice provisions. Thank you @BenBeachy.

Does the drug pricing thing ring some bells? It should. That piece was the result of negotiations led by San Diego’s Rep. Scott Peters. Boom.

Parents, get those margarita machines ready because it’s time to par-tayyyyyy! Kids ages 5-11 are officially able to receive vaccines. Pfizer is first out the gate with a child-sized vaccine. Information on where to get the vaccine in San Diego can be found here.

Senator Feinstein joined a group of legislators introducing a bill that would reduce supply chain bottlenecks. The measure would create a federal Office of Supply Chain Resiliency within the Commerce Department, and authorize $5 billion in grant, loans and loan guarantees to American manufacturers.

International:

As Canadians and Mexicans count the days to November 8 when travel restrictions at land ports of entry will be partially lifted, DHS released a FAQ sheet for foreign-born travelers looking to cross into the country via land or ferry. In a nutshell, they should verbally attest to their non-essential travel and COVID-19 vaccination status and be prepared to present proof of vaccination as outlined on the CDC website. These requirements do not apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents (including those with commuter status), foreign-born individuals aged 17 or under, or foreign-born travelers engaged in activities deemed essential (including H1b and H2b visa holders). But wait, starting January 2022, all inbound foreign travelers crossing into the U.S. –whether for essential or non-essential reasons– will be required to provide proof of vaccination. To help reduce wait times and long lines, travelers can take advantage of the CBP OneTM app to process their I-94 permit and access other services and are highly encouraged to avoid rush hour traffic (4:00-9:00am).

G20 Leaders met in person for the first time after two years to cover a wide agenda. Some key agreements included ending public financing for coal-fired power generation abroad and committing to reach carbon neutrality “by or around mid-century”.

A short flight up north, nearly 200 country representatives met in Glasgow for the UN’s climate change summit Cop26. A Squid Game inspired protest urged world leaders to “stop playing games with the climate”.

Baja’s new state administration took office this Monday for a six-year tenure. Marina del Pilar Avila became the first female and youngest governor in the state’s history. She introduced members of her cabinet and was joined by Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, and Mario Delgado, National President of the MORENA party.

Mexico City threw its biggest Day of the Dead parade ever in celebration of a tradition that dates at least as far back as the Aztec Empire. If you watched Coco you know what it’s all about. Traditions include building home altars to remember loved ones that have passed away and honoring them with calaveras, marigolds, their favorite foods, and visiting graves with these items as gifts.

The EPA will host a public meeting next Monday, November 8 at 1:00p.m. to provide an update on the analysis of infrastructure projects to address transboundary pollution issues impacting the Tijuana River Valley in our region. Access to the meeting is available here.

 Join us on November 18 for our upcoming IBA Forum on the role of cultural awareness and protocol play when navigating the international business landscape. Speakers will share best practices on business etiquette across cultures focusing on some of San Diego’s top trade partners: Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, and the United Kingdom.

 

State:

$$$ 2021 Main Street Small Business Tax Credit II is now available. The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is now accepting applications for small business employers to reserve tax credits up to $150,000. Eligible businesses must have 500 or fewer employees and experienced at least a 20 percent reduction in gross receipts compared to last year. This credit is first come first serve, so apply soon!

Attorney General Rob Bonta has created a Housing Strike Force within the Department of Justice to work on addressing the housing crisis by: enforcing state housing and development laws in the AG’s capacity, enforcing tenant rights, mortgage servicing, and other consumer protection laws, providing guidance letters to local governments on housing laws, and more. In addition, a Housing Portal on the DOJ’s website is now live and the Strike Force will begin holding a series of tenant roundtables in the near future.

Local:

Fun Activity Alert! MTS will be hosting VIP Trolley Tours of the UC San Diego Blue Line Extension before it publicly opens on November 21. Chamber members are invited to take a tour of the new line on November 12 (RSVP by November 10) or November 19 (RSVP by November 17). To RSVP and to learn more, please contact Mark Olson, Manager of Public Relations (MTS).

San Diego will continue to hold public meetings online, and is one of the only large cities in the state planning to do so. Public participation has surged since meetings went virtual at the beginning of the pandemic, and San Diego officials hope to continue to promote civic engagement while maintaining public health.

UC San Diego, Spin and TransLoc have entered a five-year agreement to provide sustainable transportation options for the 75,000 students and staff on campus. TransLoc software will track ride data, support the college’s bus system, and run electric passenger vehicles for students and staff with mobility issues.

This morning city of San Diego staff presented the Climate Resilient San Diego plan to the planning Commission who voted unanimously to forward it on to the city’s Environment Committee. That item will be heard on November 18, and a draft can be found here for review.

Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber is holding the 9th Annual Turkey Giveaway and Walk-Up Vaccination Clinic on November 20. If you’d like to contribute to this event, click here.

City of San Diego Development Services Department Alerts:

  • DSD will be closed on Veterans Day. Regular business hours resume Friday, November 12.
  • Beginning November 15th, all new permit applications and resubmitted plans and documents must meet new digital format requirements for electronic plan review including sheet numbering, page orientation, inserting/deleting sheets for resubmittals. Learn more about the requirements here.

Here’s what happened this week at the San Diego City Council hearings:

  • The Land Use and Housing Committee voted unanimously to approve the 2021 Code Update with the removal of Item 34, the drive through ban in Transit Priority Areas. The Chamber was proud to support the decision.
  • Unanimously voted to use gender neutral language in city laws and policies. San Diego is now the fifth city in the country that has adopted an inclusive language policy.

Here’s what happened this week at the County Board of Supervisors hearings:

Upcoming County Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The County is holding a Chamber of Commerce Agency Partners Meeting about Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations: The meeting will be held today at 4 pm. Email Johnson@sdcounty.ca.gov if you were not already included in the outreach email.

Upcoming City Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

Public meetings on Chula Vista’s Redistricting are on the horizon! All meetings will be held in City Council Chambers and will be live-streamed here.  Providing input is easy, click here for ideas on how to engage.

Upcoming Hearings

  • The San Diego City Council will meet on November 9.

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • 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.
  • 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.
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