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

SEC moves forward on crowdfunding regulations: The Securities and Exchange Commission last week introduced new rules that would allow entrepreneurs to raise capital from anyone in the country through new online investment marketplaces.

“We want this market to thrive, in a safe manner for investors,” Mary Jo White said before a vote on new crowdfunding regulations on Wednesday. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

The rules were approved unanimously by the commission and now enter a three-month comment period. If finalized, they would give companies the green light to start widely selling securities through what are known as crowdfunding portals, as authorized by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act.

Federal judge green lights health law challenge: U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman last week ruled to proceed on a lawsuit from individuals and small business owners challenging the so-called employer mandate in the new health care law, which requires firms with more than 50 workers to offer affordable coverage to their full-time employees.

The plaintiffs argue that the law only allows the requirement to be enforced in the 16 states that set up their own health insurance exchanges and that the IRS has overstepped its reach by planning to enforce the rule nationwide starting in 2015.

Women-owned contractors win a slightly larger cut:Companies owned by women were awarded 4 percent of all federal contracts won by small business this past year, for a total haul of $16.2 billion, according to new research compiled by American Express OPEN. While still only a sliver, that’s up from 3.5 percent and $15.7 billion in 2009, even though overall federal spending has decreased during that period.

White House calls in help for Healthcare.gov: The Obama administration has started bringing in computer experts from inside the government and the private sector to fix the software behind its new online health insurance exchange. Jeff Zients, who will soon take over as director of the National Economic Council, will lead the effort.

In Maryland, new signs of trouble for health exchange: Maryland health officials, who already missed the deadline to launch an online insurance exchange for small businesses, have quietly cancelled plans to hold informational sessions this month to educate employers about their soon-to-open insurance marketplace.

Companies switching hands at a faster clip this fall: Between July and September, 1,685 small businesses (those with fewer than 500 workers) were sold, up more than 40 percent over the same period last year, according to online business-sale marketplace BizBuySell.com. The increase marks the third consecutive quartely year-over-year uptick.

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

Follow J.D. Harrison and On Small Business on Twitter.