Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
December 11, 2020

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California COVID-19 Statistics

California sees record infection rates as unprecedented surge continues. New cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations in California continue their rise according to the latest data released by state and local health departments. This is consistent with the rest of the country, which is experiencing record growth. THESE are the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health.

Newsom Administration

Californians hunker down as most regions enter a stay-at-home order and the Governor starts to get his own house in order with key appointments.  Below is a recap of key administration actions and announcements:

  • Lobbying Memo - Friday afternoon, the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom sent a memo banning his paid political advisors from also attempting to influence his administration as lobbyists. The internal memo was released as Newsom attempts to distance himself from stories related to his highly publicized dinner at the swanky French Laundry with a political advisor who is also a lobbyist.   
  • Chief of Staff Departs - Governor Gavin Newsom’s Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary will vacate her post and is expected to pursue a position in the Biden administration. New Senior Staffer - Jim DeBoo will join the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom as O’Leary departs.  DeBoo is a Sacramento veteran whom we’ve worked closely with for over a decade both in and outside the Capitol.  
  • CDPH Director - Governor Newsom announced the appointment of Tomás Aragón as the Director of the California Department of Public Health. Aragón was serving as the San Francisco Public Health Officer. He succeeds Dr. Sonia Angell who resigned in August after we learned that there was a major data glitch that led to the backlog of thousands of COVID-19 test records. 
  • Legislative Affairs Secretary - Governor Newsom announced the appointment of Angie Wei as Legislative Affairs Secretary. Wei has been serving in the Governor’s Administration since he got elected. We have known and worked closely with Angie for nearly two decades. 
  • GO-Biz Director - Governor Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of Dee Dee Myers as Senior Advisor to the Governor and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Among Myers’ previous stints was a two year run as White House Press Secretary for President Clinton. 
  • Air Resources Board Appointments - Governor Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of Liane Randolph as the new Chair of the California Air Resources Board. We have worked closely with Randolph during her tenure as a CPUC Commissioner. Along with her appointment, the Governor also announced appointing Davina Hurt, Gideon Kracov, Tania Pacheco-Werner and reappointing John Balmes to the CARB board. 
  • Justice Appointment -  Governor Gavin Newsom announced the nomination of Judge Truc T. Do to serve as an Associate Justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One. She will be the first Asian American Justice in the court’s history. 
  • Judicial Appointments Secretary - Governor Newsom announced the appointment of Luis Céspedes as his Judicial Appointments Secretary.
  • Attorney General Appointment - Governor Newsom will be tasked with appointing a new Attorney General since Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been tapped to serve as the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency Secretary in the Biden-Harris Administration. This is in addition to Governor Newsom needing to appoint a U.S. Senator to fill the seat vacated by Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris. Many of your and our favorite electeds are jockeying for these coveted posts. 
  • California Notify -  Governor Gavin Newsom announced the statewide launch of CA Notify, an app that will help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This app is an opt-in system on people’s cell phones that will notify them of a possible COVID-19 exposure.

 California Legislature 

Important Dates:

  • January 4 – Legislature Reconvenes
  • January 10 – Governor Must Submit January Budget
  • February 19 – Bill Introduction Deadline

The 2021-2022 legislative session is off to a strong start. On Monday afternoon, all legislators were sworn in, marking the official start of the new legislative session. The Assembly officially voted to re-elect Speaker Anthony Rendon to continue serving in his leadership role. This vote was mostly a formality, but in his speech he gave a glimpse into the issues he sees as priorities — those issues include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, advancing environmental justice in all communities, increasing economic equality and expanding internet access to more Californians. The Senate re-elected Senator Toni Atkins as their Senate Pro Tempore and she outlined similar goals.  On the bill introduction front, we have already seen approximately 200 bills introduced mostly designed to address topics we assumed would be a focus in the coming year. These include healthcare, unemployment, police reform, broadband access, climate change and COVID-19. Weideman Group is monitoring all bill introductions and will provide updates on a regular basis.

Assembly Budget Chair outlines broad budget priorities.  Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting outlined the Assembly’s budget priorities as they prepare for the Governor to release his budget proposal in January. The priorities include investing in COVID-19 response efforts, restoring state services, preparing for future downturns, and helping those most impacted by the pandemic induced recession.

Committee Chairs. Capitol insiders are anxiously awaiting the announcement of committee chairs and committee assignments as we prepare to begin the new session in January. Our intelligence suggests that while leaders are still making decisions about several important committee posts, Chairs are expected to be released as early as next week and committee assignments no later than January.  We are expecting to see some changes in the chairs on various committees.

Regulatory Agencies and Department Actions

Multiple departments provide updates on their efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and the wildfires. Here are some highlights:

  • Vaccine plan - The California Department of Public Health published further details about the plan for vaccine distribution in California. 
  • Yosemite Closes - Yosemite National Park has closed all hotels and campgrounds due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • College Return - The California State University system has announced that all of its campuses will reopen for Fall 2021. 
  • DMV Suspends Tests - The California Department of Motor Vehicles is temporarily suspending all in-person driving tests due to the COVID-19 surge. 
  • Cell Phone Alert - The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services will send an emergency alert to people in the Greater Sacramento region advising them of the regional stay-at-home order. 
  • SBA Loans - U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West announced that the SBA has approved more than $10 million in federal disaster loans for California businesses and residents impacted by wildfires that occurred Sept. 4 through Nov. 17, 2020. 
  • Drought Loan Deadline - The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Disaster Field Operations Center-West reminded small nonfarm businesses in 10 California counties and neighboring counties in Oregon of the Jan. 6, 2021, deadline to apply for an SBA federal disaster loan for economic injury. These low-interest loans are to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by drought in the following primary counties that began April 21, 2020: Del Norte, Humboldt, Shasta, Siskiyou, Trinity, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Plumas and Tehama.

Biden – Harris Transition

President-elect Biden’s Administration continues to take shape. Earlier in the week, President-elect Joe Biden announced the selection of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his choice for Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. As California’s Attorney General, Becerra has spearheaded efforts around the defense of the Affordable Care Act and prescription drugs. We are proud to have a long-standing relationship with Becerra. Below is a recap of additional recent actions: 

  • Cabinet Picks -  President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Marcia Fudge to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and Tom Vilsack to be Secretary of Agriculture. 
  • Chief of Defense - President-elect Joe biden has selected retired General Lloyd Austin as his Secretary of Defense. 

Federal Government

Stimulus talks continue to stall in Congress as pressure to pass relief measure builds. Following the passing of a week-long funding extension in the House of Representatives, talks on a stimulus package continue to go nowhere.  The sticking point is COVID liability. Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi refuses to pass a package with corporate liability protections, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supports. Another point of contention is funding for state and local governments. On Friday, in an effort to get things moving, Republican Senators attempted to craft a compromise that excludes the two most contentious issues. It is unclear if this will break the logjam. 

Local Action

Local governments continue to take actions they deem appropriate given their unique circumstances. Here are some highlights:

  • LA Schools Close - The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a hard shutdown of LA schools for all in-person services.
  • Parking Fines - Los Angeles is suspending some parking fines amid the regional stay-at-home order.
  • LA To Skip Homeless Count - Los Angeles will not conduct it’s biannual count of the homeless due to the dangers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Outdoor Dining - A judge has limited the no outdoor dining ordinance in Los Angeles following a lawsuit by local restaurants. 
  • Pasadena Closes - The City of Pasadena, the last in Southern California to hold out, has closed outdoor dining. 
  • Manhattan Beach Repurposes Outdoors - The city of Manhattan Beach has implemented a plan to allow residents to continue using outdoor dining spaces set up by local restaurants. 
  • Central Coast Region - The counties of Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo have requested to become a new california region for consideration under the state’s stay-at-home order as their numbers are not reflective of the Southern California region.

Resources

  • ​California Coronavirus Response website can be found here
  • California Department of Public Health guidance documents can be found here
  • California COVID-19 risk screening and testing can be found here
  • California Local Public Health Authority information can be found here
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 updates can be found here
  • Looking for ways to help your community? Visit this site here