Legislative Update – October 28 - SD Regional Chamber

Legislative Update – October 28

It’s a bold strategy, Cotton: Facebook, who has had a hell of a few weeks in the news cycle and on the minds of cranky legislators, unveiled a name change earlier today. It has been rebranded as ‘Meta’, which we would humbly suggest does nothing for their PR issues, unless their strategy is to further confuse the contingent of policy makers who still don’t quite get this whole dang social media thing and just how it’s supposed to work.

Huge shout out to our friends at LEAD for the extraordinary comeback of the Visionary Awards event in person. Thanks to the sponsors, the attendees, and all y’all for coming out to highlight some of San Diego’s very best including Jim Schmid, Rip Rippetoe & the Convention Center team, Nancy Jamison, Starla Lewis, San Diego Loyal, and StandUp for Kids.

Business News

CSUSM is looking for your feedback, help ‘em out by filling out their business confidence survey.

ClickUp has announced a whopping $400 million in their third round of fundraising, continuing to reinforce San Diego’s start up position. Congrats!

Payment company Stripe announced this week that it has teamed up with Deep Science Ventures to spark an expansion of market-based methods to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That news pairs well with another recent announcement from SDG&E who earlier this month released its annual sustainability strategy update.

The smarty pants at the San Diego Zoo have just announced quite the discovery: Condors can procreate without having sex, which could have sweeping implications for conservation efforts.

San Diego’s annual design competition, Orchids & Onions, recently announced their winners for the region’s best and worst architecture. Congratulations to Chamber members Affirmed Housing and Carrier Johnson + CULTURE  for receiving an Orchid in Architecture, and Gensler for an Orchid in Interiors.

Legislative Updates


Federal:
 

A fun way to stress-read the news is to have a deadline to send a newsletter on the same day the House might vote on a very big policy proposal. The President today announced a deal on his big spending plan, bringing it from the oh-so-controversial $3.5 trillion price tag to the still kinda controversial $1.75 trillion point. However, even lowering the price tag does not address the “if this, then that” issue of whether the infrastructure bill will pass or fail as a companion to this big spending bill.  And at this point, the House is scheduled to vote on the infrastructure piece (feels like ages ago, but that’s the one that most people like and hasn’t been front and center), sometime today.  Progressives are throwing down though, and have seriously just moments ago let Pelosi know they will block the infrastructure bill’s passage. The Senate will then take up the $1.75 grab-bag bill that has been pared down to a three page framework, until 11:30 today when they released the thousand page plus document. So, it’s a little TBD but we do expect paid family leave and the billionaire’s tax to stay off the list. Whew.

EEOC is beating OSHA to the “drop new guidance on vaccines” line. A line which we all stand at the other end of saying “How are we supposed to be enforcing all of this?!!” and waving our hands wildly. Official EEOC guidance here. Handy, easier to read summary, here. In short, the EEOC guidance wants you to know that seriously, we mean it, it’s okay to require vaccines for employees physically entering the workplace. It also specifically spells out that political views cannot constitute a reason for an exemption from the requirement.

We’re still waiting to find out who chose the just slightly too big sized paper for vaccination cards, but luckily you can now upload a virtual card onto your Apple wallet. If we were better at technology, we’d know the answer for you droid users, but alas.

It’s a Christmas miracle! The US Department of Transportation and our very own Governor Newsom have announced a deal to alleviate the supply chain issues manifesting at our ports. It looks like it’s primary focus is to streamline some construction at the ports, so while a benefit, it’s unclear how this will address the today crisis of everyone’s stuff floating in the ocean.

How much are investors to blame for the housing shortage? Turns out, maybe less than we thought. A recent report says that investors and wall street type firms are buying more homes, but they’re remaining within the 10-15% of residential purchases which is typical. Instead, there’s increasing finger pointing at us, dear reader. Californians are now taking the blame for scooping up housing in other attractive metros and pushing prices upward.

Biden has named his preferred US Patent & Trade Office (USPTO) head: Kathi Vidal. While we think a San Diegan would have been a natural, Vidal is a patent litigator and managing director of Winston & Strawn, a law office in Silicon Valley.

Knowing where your weapons are is probably a very good idea. At least, that’s probably why Congress is proposing new accountability measures for members of the armed forces who are issued guns. Congress and the DOD are hammering that out as part of the NDAA.

New international travel regulations from the White House – effective November 8, fully vaccinated travellers will be required to show proof of vaccination and proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding their plane. Unvaccinated US citizens will be required to provide a negative test the day before flying, while fully vaccinated citizens will be allowed to provide a test within three days of travelling.

The FDA advisory panel officially recommended the Pfizer vaccine for 5-11 year olds. The recommendation now goes to FDA leaders for final ruling in the coming days and then the CDC next week.

International:

The Chamber joined a business delegation to Mexico City this week along with Baja’s Economic Development Corporations. The group met with several embassies to promote economic opportunities in our binational region and held meetings with federal officials to advocate for policy and projects that will help boost the economy on both sides of the border.

Anticipating increased traffic volumes at regional land ports of entry, CBP will resume standard business hours at the Tecate, Andrade, and Calexico East ports from 6:00am to 10:00pm. Hours were temporarily limited in response to decreased traffic volumes due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. In addition, CBP will scale staffing to keep up with demand.

Senator Diane Feinstein secured $35 million on the package of federal funding bills for fiscal year 2022 to mitigate transboundary pollution across the US-MX border, including the Tijuana River Valley in our region. Earlier this year, Senators Feinstein and Alex Padilla introduced the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act to designate the EPA  as the lead agency to coordinate all federal, state and local agencies to build and maintain needed infrastructure projects to decrease pollution along the border. The Chamber has submitted letters in support of this legislation.

In Mexico, the Secretariat of Health stated that it is illegal for employers to request proof of vaccination from employees, though it is still highly encouraging the community to get vaccinated. Along those efforts, Baja reopened vaccination stations which now may serve  individuals between the ages of 12 and 17  that qualify.

The EPA will host a public meeting on 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.

The Mexican Consulate shared an invitation to join the state of Chiapas at their “4th Annual Business Meeting”. The event will take place on November 10 in Tuxtla Gutiérrez with a virtual option for buyers who wish to participate in bilateral meetings with bidding companies from Chiapas. Click here for more information.

 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:

Yikes. The head of the EDD, Rita Saenz, who we still believe took this job on purpose, told an Assembly committee that the agency spent $170 billion in unemployment claims…. And $20 billion of that was fraudulent. In that same hearing, the Auditor told legislators that the only way to improve operations would be to withhold additional funds for EDD until they completed all of the auditor’s recommendations. EDD time is like dog years. What would take any other public agency one year will likely take EDD seven.

CalOSBA’s California Venues Grant program website has launched to help independent live events venues affected by COVID-19. Interested applicants can apply for grant funding between October 29 – November 19.

California’s Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) released draft maps for state senate, state assembly, and congressional districts. These maps are far from final and will receive a lot of redrawing, especially since the state is losing one of its house seats. The IRC has until mid-November to approve preliminary maps and December 27 for final maps.

The state has dropped its Senate and Assembly calendars for next year. While we know that generally everything occurs at the absolute last minute, it’s still nice to know when the “last minute” officially is.

State officials have begun preparing the rollout of offering COVID-19 doses to children ages 5-11 as federal and state leaders get closer to making a final decision. While the state has a vast network of vaccination sites, officials have started conversations to work with schools for more on-campus locations to better reach roughly 3.5 million children in this age group. If the FDA, CDC, and additional health experts in California approve by late next week, children could be fully vaccinated in time for the winter holidays.

Local:

Good news! We learned in September’s jobs report that San Diego County’s unemployment rate hit an all-pandemic low. The region added 3,600 jobs last month, with a big chunk of those coming from the education sector.

The County of San Diego’s draft Regional Decarbonization Framework (RDF)  was released late last night and can be reviewed here. The draft plan is due to be discussed at a Board of Supervisors meeting on November 17. The RDF differs from a climate action plan in that this framework covers the entire county and considers impacts and actions across the county including cities, school districts and other local agencies, not just unincorporated county land.

Last week, Amtrak announced its Pacific Surfliner route is updating its schedule to add more service at more optimal times between San Diego and its terminus in San Luis Obispo. The surge in demand that prompted the service upgrade seems to have also inspired local groups to pull the trigger on securing funding to revolutionize our region’s transit system as well as relocate the tracks that Amtrak currently runs on along the Del Mar bluffs that are widely known to quite literally be crumbling into the ocean. Support is coalescing among labor and environmental groups to place a half cent sales tax on the November 22 ballot. More information can be found at letsgosd.org.

A new study by Zillow reports that Black renters in San Diego are the most rent burdened in the country, spending an average of 53% of their income on rent. Findings show that the pandemic has had a significant effect on the rental market and the rent burden is unequal across all renters of color. Households that spend more than 30% of their income on rent are considered “cost burdened.” Interested in how we got into this housing mess? Tune into KPBS’ latest midday edition episode on the state of housing in San Diego.

At least one good thing came out of the pandemic, and it’s not embracing athleisure. Spaces as Places, the program that extends outdoor dining in the City of San Diego, will go into effect July 2022. Council voted Tuesday 6-2 to approve outdoor dining in streets with 30 mph speed limits or less. The proposal will still need to go through a second reading from the Council and the Coastal Commission before official approval.

The City of San Diego’s Development Service Department will be hosting a webinar on how to submit your accessory dwelling unit (ADU) plans online for a faster review. Learn more and sign up here.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to pass the 2021 Land Development Code Update, with the exception of requesting the removal of a proposed moratorium on drive-thru’s. The Chamber was pleased to speak and express concerns regarding the drive-thru portion. The Commission also voted to support the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update at the same hearing, a plan years in the making with support from the local Community Planning Group, environmentalists, and the shipbuilding & ship repair industry. Both items will be heard at the City’s Land Use and Housing Committee next month.

Founders First CDC, a local nonprofit, is launching a grant program for veteran owned small businesses. The 2021 Steve Fund will award $25,000 in microgrants to 50 awardees and announce the winners on Veteran’s Day. Applications close October 31. Learn more and apply here.

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 on November 4 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 SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on October 29.
  • The San Diego County Planning Commission will meet on October 29.
  • The San Diego City Council will meet on November 2.
  • The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will meet on November 2 and November 3.
  • The San Diego City Planning Commission will meet on November 4.

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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