Small business weekly:

A look back at some of the biggest small business and start-up stories from the past week, with a focus on Washington.


Obamacare insurance applications have been trimmed from 21 pages to three. (J. David Ake/AP)

New Obamacare much simpler:The Department of Health and Human Services has trimmed the new health insurance application forms from 21 pages to three pages, responding to criticism that the initial application process would be far too onerous.

SBA launches program for female contractors: Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills has a few items left on her agenda before she steps down — one of which is helping women-owned small businesses secure more federal contracts.

Online sales tax divides small business owners: The Senate is expected this week to pass a measure allowing states to collect sales tax online — but small business owners are split on the legislation, which could pose serious challenges for online merchants.

Small firms sticking with Facebook: Small business owners created roughly 3 million company pages on the social media site during the first quarter of the year, suggesting claims that users are starting to flee the site may be overstated, at least on Main Street.

A big summer ahead for small contractors:This summer could be a big one for small contractors, with more than $3 billion worth of government work reserved for small business and new penalties for agencies that do not reach their small business contracting goals.

Fed staying the course: The Federal Reserve is sticking with its pledge not to change borrowing rates until unemployment falls below 6.5 percent or inflation hits 2.5 percent, but the central bank did open the door to potentially increasing its massive stimulus program.

OSB start-up of the week : Wool&Prince: The New York-based clothing company has introduced a button-down shirt it claims will stay stink-free for a hundred days without washing.

What are you keeping an eye on this week? Please let us know below.

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he runs the On Small Business blog.

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