The following was issued April 16 by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce:

This week marks California’s sixth week in a State of Emergency and our fourth week sheltering in place. While we all are starting to adjust to this new normal, the Chamber continues to recognize the unprecedented nature of these times. We are beginning to look forward and understand how we can best ensure the San Diego region’s resiliency and recovery over the coming weeks, months, and years. That understanding is being driven by discussions in the Chamber’s policy committees that revolve around how best to safely, swiftly and sustainably move forward.

In an effort to keep Chamber members informed on the rapidly changing legislation and the impacts it has on business, the Chamber’s Policy and International Business Affairs teams monitor legislation and compile this weekly update each Thursday to provide our business community with the relevant information.

In addition to our weekly Legislative Update, we invite you to visit our coronavirus business resource page which is continually updated with information and resources for the business community.

Jerry Sanders

President & CEO

San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

Federal:

The $350 billion dedicated to small business support in the CARES Act has been depleted. Read the official statement by Secretary Mnuchin and Administrator Carranza here. While it is positive that so many businesses were able to access emergency funds, we are concerned about how best to secure the next wave of funding for business preservation.

It’s expected that the President will unveil reopening guidelines today for Governors.

Senate Leader Mitch McConnell announced that it is not expected that Senators convene in DC until May 4th at least, signaling a possibly slower timeline for a Phase 4 stimulus effort. The House has similar timelines, however, there is a caveat, should the timeline change, legislators will receive 24-hour notice of their need to travel.

International:

The State of Baja announced the launch of an economic support program for entrepreneurs and SMEs. Assistance includes funding and low-interest financing opportunities to help employers cover payroll, rent, essential services, working capital, and supplies, as well as suspending fiscal audits and providing specialized training through various digital platforms. Information on the program and how to submit an application is available here (in Spanish only).

State:

Today, the Senate will hold its first subcommittee meeting on the response to COVID-19 beginning at 2 p.m. The agenda can be found here. Full backup materials are here.

Earlier this week, Governor Newsom announced a new coalition between California, Oregon, and Washington, which will coordinate when the states reopen their economies. While each state in the pact is building a state-specific plan, the states have agreed to three main principles: (1) residents’ health comes first; (2) health outcomes and science (not politics) will guide these decisions; and (3) western states will only be effective by working together.

Following the western states’ pact announcement, Governor Newsom also outlined a list of indicators the state will evaluate before modifying the stay-at-home order and reopening the economy. More information about these indicators here. The Governor also stressed that when the stay-at-home order is lifted, daily life will not immediately resume to normal. Restaurants will likely reopen at half capacity; masks and face coverings will continue to be worn in public settings; and temperatures may be taken before entering a store, restaurant, office building, or other public gatherings.

Pandemic Unemployment Insurance, as established by the federal CARES Act, is expected to be online soon. The eligibility requirements are different from traditional unemployment insurance, but you can read more here. There has also been recent direction that the $600 in Pandemic Unemployment Benefits that supplement state benefits, will be retroactive to those who qualify.

The Department of Finance issued an interim fiscal update via letter to the budget committee chairs, giving some dire but not surprising news. The state is in a significant moment for decision making, with DOF believing an additional $6B will be needed for healthcare spending to address COVID-19 and high demand for state benefits such as unemployment insurance. However, a positive point: compared to the great recession, the state is in a far better financial position to address budgetary challenges today.

In a Monday bulletin, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara ordered companies to refund consumers and businesses premiums for at least March and April if they have been impacted by COVID-19. While likely a welcome relief for many, we still await direction on the larger question of business interruption coverage and any direction he may be willing to provide. On Tuesday the Chamber submitted a letter to Commissioner Lara’s office with a renewed ask for clarification. This Friday the Commissioner is hosting a Virtual Town Hall for businesses. This link will guide you to an email address and there you can add any questions, as well as RSVP for the Town Hall. Please feel free to share the event.

The Chamber and coalition partners sent a letter requesting the Governor issue an Executive Order to temporarily halt rulemaking that is not “urgently needed to protect public health.”

Local:

This week, the Chamber submitted a letter to the County of San Diego requesting clarification on the Public Health Officer’s local stay at home order that would enable businesses to better take advantage of their Business Interruption insurance policies.

On Thursday, April 9, the County announced an amendment to the Public Health Order, requiring bank and public transportation employees to wear facial coverings while serving the public. The amendment also requires childcare providers to wear facial coverings while serving food. Compliance is required by April 14, 2020.

During a City Council meeting on Tuesday, the Council voted to defer fees for businesses that must renew their annual special police permits. This new regulation applies to bars, tobacco shops, pool halls, and other businesses regulated by the police department. It allows business owners to defer payments up to four months and automatically renew expired permits.

On Wednesday, Mayor Faulconer announced his budget. The proposal cuts the City budget by $250 million in response to a large gap in tax revenue. Under this proposal, the city’s general fund would shrink for the first time since 2008. You can read the UT’s coverage here and find the full revised budget proposal here.

City Council will meet on Tuesday, April 21. The agenda can be found here.

The County Board of Supervisors will meet on Tuesday, April 21. Due to the Governor’s Executive Order, in-person attendance is prohibited. Information on how to participate in the teleconference, view online, or submit comments can be found here. The agenda and supporting documents are here.