April has been a busy month for small business legislation at the federal level, with the introduction of two bills aimed at expanding access to capital and business training for underserved entrepreneurs.
Microloan Program Enhancement Act
On April 2, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) announced the introduction of the Microloan Program Enhancement Act of 2019 (S.996). The main purpose of this bill is to improve the SBA’s Microloan Program by eliminating the 1/55th rule – a requirement from the pilot program that prevents SBA from distributing more than 1/55th of its funding in any given state during the first half of the year – as well as requiring SBA to submit an annual report to Congress on how the program is meeting requirements to lend to urban and rural areas. During her testimony at last month’s House Small Business Committee hearing on the SBA Microloan Program, Carolina supported the elimination of the 1/55th rule in order to provide greater flexibility for the program.
NEW START Act
On April 9, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the NEW START Act, a piece of legislation that would create a reentry program within SBA to award grants to organizations that provide business counseling and entrepreneurial development training to formerly incarcerated individuals. CAMEO supports this bill, as research shows that such programs improve chances of employment, reduce recidivism, and benefit both the individual and the community.