Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
March 8, 2021

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Reopening Plans Underway

Governor Gavin Newsom signed a school reopening plan this week that included an infusion of $6.6 billion to help accelerate the safe return to in-person instruction and bolster student supports. The funding will allow local education agencies to acquire the required personal protective gear, ensure physical distancing accommodations, address learning loss, and support extended school days. The school reopening package also codifies the Governor’s previous commitment to set aside 10% of vaccines for education workers. More information on the deal can be found here

Governor Newsom also announced that the state will allocate 40% of available vaccine doses to the hardest hit communities in the lowest quartile of the Healthy Places Index based on an equitable allocation formula. The theory behind this move is that tackling COVID-19 where it is most pronounced will most expeditiously help to prevent spread of the disease. This effort will be bolstered by mobile sites that will be located in difficult to reach areas like agricultural communities. The different strategies being taken by the Administration and Third Party Administrator Blue Shield of California have led to an increasing number of Californians being vaccinated. This, in turn, has given the Administration the ability to begin the process to revisit the reopening guidelines for counties under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. It is expected that the Blueprint will soon take into account vaccination rates in the various counties.
 

More Vaccine on the Way, Maybe Federal $ Too

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the one dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson making this the third available vaccine. President Biden announced that he has invoked the Defense Production Act and brokered a deal between Johnson & Johnson and Merck to produce 100 million doses of the vaccine. The President stated that there will be enough doses of COVID-19 vaccines by late May for every adult in the country to receive one. California has already begun to receive shipments of the new vaccine. 

The United States House of Representatives passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan along a party line vote. The package is now in the U.S. Senate, where we expect it to undergo changes designed to address opposition to certain provisions. In its current form, the bill contains funding allocations for vaccine administration, stimulus checks, local/state funding and more. Democrats are pledging to move the bill to President Biden’s desk before mid-March, when unemployment benefits expire for millions of Americans. If all Democrats and no Republicans support the package, Vice President Harris can cast a tie breaking vote in the 50-50 Senate.
 

Senator-Elect Kamlager

On Tuesday, residents of California’s 30th Senate district in Los Angeles took to the polls in a special election to fill the vacancy left by now Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell. Assembly member Sydney Kamlager received 66% of the vote, far outpacing her challengers and receiving enough votes to avoid a runoff election in May. The election is expected to be certified March 11th after which Kamlager can be sworn into the State Senate, triggering another special election to fill her current Assembly seat in the 54th district.
 

Becerra’s Uphill Battle

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is facing intense Republican push back as President Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. The Senate Finance Committee was split down partisan lines on a 14-14 vote to allow Becerra’s nomination to advance to a full Senate Floor vote. Democratic leadership and the White House remain confident they can successfully confirm Becerra next week. However, the withdrawal of Neera Tanden as Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget has given Republicans hope that they can also block Becerra’s confirmation.
 

Weideman Group Stanford Lecture Series

Firm Principal Mark Weideman and Director of Climate and Clean Energy, Ryan McCarthy, were honored to be asked to guest lecture at Stanford University again this year. Weideman and McCarthy lectured to Stanford students who are budding clean energy entrepreneurs on the role policy and politics play in shaping markets and success for emerging clean energy and climate technology companies. In addition to detailing the state’s political and policy landscape, Weideman and McCarthy provided strategic insights for how state policies could be leveraged and enhanced to accelerate growth for each of six companies being developed by the students.

 

Welcome Aboard

Weideman Group is proud to announce the addition of our newest team member, Alma Barreras. Alma joins the firm as an Associate and will provide direct lobbying, strategic counsel, legislative tracking, regulatory monitoring and procurement services for the firm’s clients. She has an extensive background in government affairs. Alma most recently worked for the California Department of Education, where she helped spearhead the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s legislative, regulatory and budgetary agenda. She also worked in the California State Legislature where she staffed and helped enact a number of bills in an array of policy areas, including health, elections, jobs & economic development, and labor. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and is a fluent Spanish speaker.