Get Started: Lending legislation, smallbiz jobs

NEW YORK (AP) — Several groups including the Credit Union National Association and the National Small Business Association are stepping up their efforts to get controversial legislation passed that could boost small business lending.

Small business owners have complained that access to capital has been one of their biggest challenges. The Small Business Lending Enhancement Act would amend the Federal Credit Union Act to allow credit unions to increase the percentage of total assets that they could use to lend to small businesses, if the credit union meets specific quality criteria. Similar legislation has been proposed in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate. The bills could come up for a vote this week.

Last week, more than 500 credit union and small business supporters traveled to Washington to urge lawmakers to approve the bills. Both bills would help credit unions lend an additional $13 billion to small businesses and help them create over 140,000 new jobs in the first year after enactment, according to CUNA.

Still, not everyone thinks the legislation is a good idea.

The Independent Community Bankers of America — whose members compete with credit unions for loan business— cites a study by the conservative Capital Policy Analytics Group that says additional lending by credit unions could hurt the economy because federal taxes that commercial banks would pay on loan fees wouldn't be paid by credit unions, since they are not-for-profit institutions and get a federal exemption on income taxes. The study also contends that the majority of credit unions are nowhere near their current caps on commercial lending, making the legislation unnecessary. The American Bankers Association, whose members include some of the nation's largest lenders, also opposes the legislation.

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REPORT: SMALL BUSINESS JOBS UP LAST MONTH

Small businesses in the U.S. added 30,000 jobs in November, according to a report released Monday by business software maker Intuit Inc.

That increase represents a 0.14 percent boost for the month and 1.7 percent rise on an annualized basis, said Intuit, which collects data from 170,000 small business employers who use its payroll products. The rise in employment was greatest in Maryland, where it rose 0.15 percent, followed by Missouri, Oklahoma and Arizona. Employment was weakest in Michigan and Kansas.

Employers also added hours and paid workers more. Average monthly compensation grew by 0.5 percent, or $14, while monthly hours worked increased by 0.11 percent, on average.

However, employers' revenue declined 0.3 percent from the previous month. The real estate and health care industries saw the biggest drop-offs, at 0.9 and 0.7 percent, respectively. Professional services followed with a decline of 0.6 percent.

The report comes ahead of several other readings on employment expected this week, including monthly reports from the Labor Department and payroll processor ADP.

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GRAVES RETURNS TO HOUSE COMMITEE

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) will continue to serve as chairman of the House Committee on Small Business in the 113th Congress. Under Chairman Graves, the committee held 80 hearings and introduced 19 bills. In addition to hearings, the oversight activities of the committee spanned more than 20 different departments and agencies in the federal government, according to a statement from the committee. Graves was a full-time family farmer before serving in the Missouri Legislature from 1993-2000. He was elected to the House of Representatives from Missouri's Sixth Congressional District in 2000 and became chairman of the House Small Business Committee in 2011.

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