Legislative Update – September 23 - SD Regional Chamber

Legislative Update – September 23

Happy second day of fall! Check out this list of San Diego things to do this fall, and let’s all pretend it’s not still 80 degrees out. As we heard last night at ToddTalks (shout out to our friends at Downtown Partnership for a great event. Two thumbs way up) “It’s fine. We’re fine.”

Business News

Hear ye, hear ye: California Department of General Services, the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development and the Office of Digital Innovation want your feedback on what it’s like to be a small business in California (ha!). It’s five minutes. You’ve got five minutes. Fill out the survey here.

Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine is safe for children 5-11. The full data still needs to be reviewed by the FDA and is expected to be completed anywhere from a few weeks to a month.

$$$ The City of San Diego Small Business and Nonprofit Relief Fund deadline is tomorrow, September 24 at 5 pm. Learn more and apply here.

The San Diego International Airport’s expansion plan was approved by the California Coastal Commission. Construction is expected to begin in November, as long as the Federal Aviation Administration approves the environmental impact analysis and the Airport Authority approves construction and design contracts. Go catch those flights, not Covid.

BlueNalu will be joining Nomad Foods, a top European frozen food company, to explore market development strategies for cell cultured seafood in Europe. This partnership will be the first time a consumer packaged food company collaborates with a cell cultured food company in Europe.

Qualcomm released a report highlighting the sustainability benefits of 5G technology. A couple of key findings from the Environmental sustainability and a greener economy: The transformative role of 5G report finds that the rollout of 5G in the U.S. will create 300,000 new green jobs by 2030 and enables the reduction of 374 million metric tons of GHG emissions.

Legislative Updates


Federal:
 

The Office of Management and Budget is going to remind federal agencies and departments to “review plans” for a possible governmental shutdown, should the continuing resolution on the table now not be passed. On Tuesday, the House passed the funding proposal but it faces Republican pushback in the Senate.

On Wednesday, the FDA approved boosters of the Pfizer vaccine for those 65 and older, individuals with high risk for severe COVID-19, or workers with high exposure jobs. Information on booster vaccine eligibility in San Diego County is available here.

Today, the House continues debate on FY2022 NDAA amendments. As of this morning there are over 400 amendments to consider, and final passage is expected late Friday.

Last week, the Senate parliamentarian ruled against including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of the budget bill. Including immigration reform in the budget reconciliation process would have allowed the legislation to pass with a simple majority, as long as Democrats could prove the issue has a direct budgetary impact. Alternative proposals will be presented in the coming days. In this forever-long saga though, there was an announcement today that the House/White House/Senate had agreed on a “framework” to pay for the long list of programs and policies (emphasis on “long”). In theory, this means that the moderate Dems particularly in the Senate who have been like “ehhhhh, I dunno guys” have given the nod. However, Senator Sanders, a well-documented supporter of spending all the money, was “caught off guard” by the announcement.

Also in the mix on reconciliation drama? SALT repeal. Which, we probably don’t have to tell you, is GREAT.

President Biden and HUD have launched “House America,” a national initiative asking local, state, and tribal agencies to pledge to reduce homelessness and in turn receive federal support and resources. The campaign’s targets include providing housing for at least 100,000 and at least 20,000 affordable housing units. Mayor Gloria has joined the pledge.

International:

The Biden administration announced the end of air travel restrictions starting in November (ugh, that’s air only), allowing fully vaccinated foreign travelers to enter the country. Visitors will need to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test before boarding.  In addition, contact information will be collected as part of a new contact-tracing system.

In a completely contradictory decision, non-essential travel restrictions impacting our shared land ports of entry between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico were extended for an additional thirty days to October 21. The Chamber continues to urge the federal governments to end restrictions which continue to harm our region’s economy. Senators at the northern border have also been vocal about the impact of restrictions to the business community.

On Monday, Canada held its preliminary elections,  giving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party a victory.

San Diego and Tijuana officials came together this week to inaugurate an air quality monitoring station in Tijuana, made possible by the San Diego County Air Pollution Controls District. This station will measure and monitor air quality and help shape bilateral strategies to combat air pollution in both cities.

SDSU’s International Business Program has been once again recognized in the Top Ten programs in the country in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 Best Colleges edition.

In partnership with the Chamber,  the Tijuana EDC will host their 2nd Borderless Business Congress taking place October 4 – 9. Join our very own Jerry Sanders and business leaders from both sides of the border to discuss how to leverage our unique strengths and resources to make us a hub for foreign direct investment across industries.

Our friends at the San Diego Diplomacy Council are looking for local businesses to host a Russian business delegation enrolled in the U.S. Department of State’s Business Leaders program. These fellowships will take place online until November 30th at no cost for host companies. Interested in hosting a business leader? Please contact Lulu Bonning at Lulu@SanDiegoDiplomacy.org.

State:

As you read this, because we know you are a prompt reader of emails, a stakeholder/advisory meeting is being held to determine a permanent standard for COVID that will directly impact employers. There are a number of proposed changes, including the removal of exclusion pay requirements, metrics that will indicate when the rules are in effect, vaccine verification requirements and testing all in the mix. Stay tuned for a full read out in next week’s update.

It’s GO time. Data has now been made officially available for state and local redistricting efforts. If you luuurrrve Excel, this is a very good day for you.

The Department of Cannabis Control released their proposed emergency regulations in an effort to streamline commercial cannabis activity across the state. The new regulations consolidate regulations previously held by the former Bureau of Cannabis Control, CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division and the Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch.

CalMatters recently hosted a moderated discussion on how the state is addressing the digital divide. The discussion included the need to build the physical infrastructure in underserved areas, how small businesses have relied on broadband access & adoption to thrive during the pandemic, state and federal government investments, and the need for public private partnerships to bridge the divide.

Local:

Starting in October, over 100 attractions will offer free admission for kids including the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND, Seaworld and more.

Mayor Todd Gloria has directed City staff to install temporary bike lanes in both directions on Pershing Drive, a life-threatening road for cyclists and scooter riders. Staff anticipate completion by early October.

The City of San Diego has recently hired Jorge Riveros as the new Director of Transportation. Mr. Riveros will head the new standalone Transportation Department and oversee 420 employees.

San Diego City Councilmember Joe LaCava is leading a proposal to build more housing on public land by creating a public land trust and infrastructure fund. The current proposal could designate 300 acres of public land for 10,000 housing units.

Spaces as Places, a program to transition temporary spaces including outdoor dining parklets, is on its way to City Council after recently receiving approval from the City’s Land Use & Housing Committee. The proposal is anticipated to go to City Council sometime in October.

The County continues to garner feedback on its Working Families proposal, which comes from the offices of Chair Fletcher and Supervisor Lawson-Remer. In short, the proposal (as currently written) requires paid time off and enforces minimum wage payment on all lessees on county property, in addition to requiring prevailing wage on construction projects. If you’d like to weigh in, or want to engage via the Chamber, reach out to Dike (Danyiwo@sdchamber.org).

Highlights from this week’s San Diego City Council hearings include:

  • City Council approved a sewer rate increase for single family homes. The rate will increase by 17 percent starting January 2022 and will increase to 31 percent over the next four years.
  • On Tuesday, Council voted on consent to approve an ordinance declaring the Sports Arena site as Surplus Land, effectively greenlighting the process to redevelop roughly 50 acres of blighted land in the Midway District. If this sounds familiar, it should! This week’s vote was a clean-up effort to clarify some language in the previous ordinance approved in early August.
  • City Council approved a new equity-focused policy that would broaden who receives arts funding.

Upcoming City Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • City staff will present draft language for the 36 items in the 2021 Code Update to the Community Planners Committee on September 28.

Upcoming County Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

The San Diego Housing Commission has published their residential unit vacancy study. The analysis was prepared by Circulate San Diego and Evari GIS and identified that less than 1% of units in the City of San Diego are vacant for six months or longer.

San Diego’s median home price is down again in August at $725,000, but remains up by 13.3 percent in a year.  Analysts see this as a temporary decrease that is due to a few factors including an increase in condo sales and the typical August slowdown.

Cannabis businesses have seen an uptick in sales and have provided millions in revenue in Vista and other cities where it is currently legal. While the legal cannabis industry is up and running in some cities, the County is still rolling out their plan for recreational cannabis operations in the unincorporated area. The Board of Supervisors approved the development of a legal cannabis framework back in January, and are currently working with the Office of Equity and Racial Justice and stakeholders to develop a social equity program. Learn more about the state of cannabis in the county here.

Upcoming Hearings

  • SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on September 24.
  • The San Diego County Planning Commission will meet on October 1.
  • The San Diego City Council adjourns next week and will next meet on October 4.
  • The San Diego City Planning Commission will meet on October 21.

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • The City of San Diego in partnership with The San Diego Foundation is offering the Small Business and Nonprofit Relief Fund. Applications will be accepted until September 24 at 5 pm. Grants are not first come first serve, and all applications will be reviewed after September 24.
  • The California Competes Tax Credit is an income tax credit available to businesses that want to locate in California or stay and grow in California. Businesses of any industry, size or location are eligible to apply. Applications will be accepted from July 26, 2021 – August 16, 2021 for the first period.
  • 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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