Legislative Update – September 30 - SD Regional Chamber

Legislative Update – September 30

This week had a little something for everyone. In the BIG stuff we had things like possible government shutdown (9 week save), trillions of dollars on the table as fights play out in Congress and the Senate (TBD), the deadline for some hospital workers to be vaccinated (today), and changes to state level eviction protections (today/tomorrow). In what we’ll just call “other” news, we learned about something called meathead nation and their strong feelings about a County Supervisor/vaccines. Britney is free(er)! And the McRib returns for its 40th stint on November 1st. Go forth and prosper.

Business News

Hey! We know them! The San Diego Metro Magazine announced this year’s 40 under 40 winners. Congratulations to Cassandra Weilein (Cox Communications), Kenya Huezo (MIG), Erika Schimmel Guiles (SDG&E) and Hope Reilly (Southwest Strategies).

Applications are now open for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. The free 12 week program focuses on business growth, access to capital, and networking opportunities. Learn more and apply here.

Major US retailers are preparing for the holiday season with competitive hiring surges. Chamber members Walmart, Target and Amazon will be hiring thousands of seasonal workers with opportunities to stay on as employees. With labor shortages facing most retailers, the companies plan on offering competitive wages, reliable hours and even scholarship opportunities.

Legislative Updates


Federal:
 

It’s not that we’re opposed to the whole “wait until like the very last minute” approach to running a country, it’s just that it might be nice to try something new. Congress and the Senate have passed a stopgap funding bill (with very little time to spare) and sent it to the President for signature to avoid a government shutdown. The bill was expected to pass today after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced last night Republicans have reached an agreement with Democrats. By the time you read this, you prompt email reader you, it’s likely it will have been signed. And we’ll meet you back here in December when we inevitably have this conversation again.

But wait, there’s more! The final House vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill is also scheduled for today, with Pelosi making moves to bring more people to the yes side.

…And more! Congress has until October 18 to raise the debt ceiling or risk defaulting for the first time in history. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been urging lawmakers to act or face severe economic consequences.

Also in the “it’s fiiiine” file: the backlog of ships at the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach has hit a boiling point. While many merchants are getting real nervous about the supply chain problems (dumpster fire?), a new coordinator appointed by the President has managed some moves in the right direction like 24-hour a day processing. Sixty-six ships are chilling off the coast of California. The backlog is now reaching Georgia where twenty ships are waiting to be processed. Safe to say this is really stressing Santa and his elves out.

The person who drew maybe the shortest straw ever and got to lead the CDC response to the pandemic is shifting out of that role. Henry Walke will be replaced by Barbara Mahon who, as far as we can tell, is not being punished and actually wants the gig.

This week, Todd Gloria made his first trip to Washington DC as Mayor. He’ll be addressing several issues including reopening the US Mexico border for nonessential travel, pollution in the Tijuana River Valley, infrastructure and homelessness.

Last Friday, the House passed FY2022 NDAA in a 316-113 vote. The bill includes a 2.7 percent pay increase for service members, a request for two national security projects at UC San Diego, and an amendment authored by Congressman Levin to support servicemembers’ economic opportunity and financial security.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has announced that Lisa J. Pino will be the new Director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The Director is in charge of enforcing healthcare civil rights laws which include the HIPAA Right of Access rule. Pino recently served as the Executive Deputy Commissioner for New York’s state department of health.

International:

Guess who’s back again? Former Tijuana Mayor Arturo González, now Congressman but taking a leave from office, came back for a third time after a very controversial City Council meeting Tuesday evening. His return was attributed to the City of Tijuana’s efforts against the municipalization of CESPT (Baja’s Public Utilities Commission), an initiative led by Governor Bonilla. City Council and Mayor Gonzalez later voted unanimously to oppose the initiative and keep CESPT under state jurisdiction. Mayor Gonzalez’s term will finally come to an end later today when the new administration takes office under Mayor Montserrat Caballero’s leadership.

Update on the administration’s announcement of the end of air travel restrictions: foreign-born travelers will be able to enter the country starting in November as long as they provide proof of vaccination and a recent negative COVID-19 test. Vaccines accepted by the US include those approved for emergency use by WHO or FDA such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Sinovac. Among vaccines that have not received approval is Sputnik V, which was also distributed in Mexico.

Feeling lonely after BREXIT, the UK is said to be considering applying to join USMCA. USTR acknowledged that adding a new country wouldn’t be an easy task, but have not received a formal request. President Lopez Obrador also expressed hesitation and said “we cannot just jump ahead”.

Baja’s Governor-Elect Marina del Pilar visited San Diego last week to meet with SANDAG and elected officials including San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo, and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina. She also met with CBP, toured the future location of the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry, and wrapped up the day throwing the first pitch at the Padres’ game in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Join us and the Tijuana EDC next week for the 2nd Borderless Business Congress. Business leaders and stakeholders from both sides of the border including Chamber members R.L. Jones, CBX, Matrix, Procopio, USD, UCSD, PCM, TECMA, and Smart Border Coalition, to discuss how to leverage our unique strengths and resources to make us a hub for foreign direct investment across industries.

Weird flex, bro: Turkey’s Erdogen publicly boasted he’s got more antibodies than Russia’s Putin. Which, okay.

State:

California has officially made the distribution of vote-by-mail ballots permanent now that Governor Newsom signed AB 37. Voters will still have the option of casting their ballots at polling stations for future elections.

State Assemblymembers have created a housing working group that will take a roadshow to examine barriers to housing. They’ll be in San Diego October 14th. See you there?

Right on cue, Governor Newsom signed legislation this week to improve housing production. Thirty-one bills were signed into law that focus on streamlining, local government accountability and ADU’s.

SB 10 is the lightning rod that keeps on conducting, this time attracting attention from The AIDS Healthcare Foundation which filed a lawsuit against the constitutionality of the bill signed into law on September 16.

​​Sen. Ben Hueso’s “Ryan’s Law” was signed by Governor Newsom this week, enabling healthcare facilities and hospitals to treat terminally-ill patients with medical-grade cannabis products.

Can you imagine being in charge of the agency that is responsible for wildfires, broadband, and droughts? Neither can we. So perhaps it’s not shocking that the woman appointed by Governor Newsom two years ago has already announced her departure as President of the CPUC. Marybel Batjer’s term still had five years remaining.

Local:

Those 65 years and older, with underlying health conditions or in a long term care facility are recommended to receive a Pfizer booster. People 18-64 who work a job with high COVID-19 exposure are also eligible to receive a booster.

On Tuesday, San Diego Unified School District voted unanimously to require COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff and students over 12. For staff, any employee who works on district property will have to be fully vaccinated by December 20. Students who are not vaccinated by the deadline will not be able to participate in on-campus learning or in extracurricular activities, unless exempted for medical reasons.

That’s some expensive trash. The IBA released their review of the People’s Ordinance, covering that the City is budgeted to spend up to $71 million in FY on “refuse collection” services. Full review here.

In much needed happy news, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park recently asked San Diegans to help name a  new southern white rhino calf. The winning name is Kamaria, which means beautiful like the moonlight in Swahili (which, coincidentally is what we’d also like to go by now, thank you).

Upcoming City Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The Redistricting Commission will discuss themes and trends from the public comment of all 9 Special District Meetings and online comments on October 5.
  • Have you checked out what’s in the 2021 Land Development Code Update yet? There are 36 items that make amendments to the general zoning and fiber optic ordinances (cough, and maybe no more drive-thrus, cough). Staff anticipate that the Update will be heard at the Planning Commission in late October.  If you have any questions or want to engage via the Chamber, please contact Angeli Calinog.

Upcoming County Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

Next week is SANDAG’s Rideshare Week, which just so happens to include California Clean Air Day on October 6. Check out ways on how employers and commuters can participate here.  P.S. Have you tried MTS’ new Pronto system yet?

SANDAG released their digital equity strategy report, which provides an overview of how the digital divide affects the region and strategies to address it. Check out their story map here.

SDSU recently received a $15 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to research Latino health disparities. The grant will allow the university to hire 11 new faculty across disciplines to focus on diverse communities and create faculty mentorship programs.

San Diego businesses will face a sharp increase in wastewater treatment fees next summer. Beginning July 2022, the city will begin to phase in fee increases for “industrial polluters”, which vary by business classification and type pollution. This will be the first time industrial wastewater treatment fees have been raised since 1984.

The US Chamber Foundation is coming to San Diego on October 20-21 to host their AMPLIFY program. AMPLIFY is a two-day exclusive event that leads a cohort of military spouses through intensive career preparation, professional development and networking. Learn more and register here.

Upcoming Hearings

  • The San Diego County Planning Commission will meet on October 1.
  • The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will meet on October 5 & October 6.
  • The San Diego City Council will meet on October 4 & October 5.
  • The San Diego City Environment Committee will meet on October 7.
  • The San Diego City Planning Commission will meet on October 21.
  • The SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on October 8.

 

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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