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

Senate approves immigration reform legislation

The Senate last week approved a sweeping immigration reform bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants and heighten border security. Many small business and start-up advocates have supported the bill, which also would increase number of work permits for highly educated foreigners and create a new class of “start-up visa” for entrepreneurs. However, some have raised concerns about new hiring and worker eligibility requirements for employers.

Small firms support clean energy initiatives

Days after President Obama announced an ambitious climate control and clean energy agenda, a new poll shows the majority of small business owners support many of his proposals. More than three in four, for instance, think the the government should set a national goal to increase energy efficiency by 50 percent over the next decade.

Congress considering tweaks to Obamacare

A bill to repeal a fee on insurance providers in the new healthcare reform law recently secured enough votes to pass in the House, gaining momentum on both sides of the aisle from lawmakers who fear the tax would be passed to small businesses in the form of higher premiums. The fee is scheduled to start next year when the law takes full effect.

Small businesses betting on Bitcoins

More small business owners are embracing a relatively new virtually currency called Bitcoin, which can be bought and sold online. The move can help save on credit card processing fees and lure tech-saavy customers, according to a story in the The Wall Street Journal, but it also comes with considerable risks.

Consumer spending surprises economists

The Commerce Department last week reported significant increases in personal income and consumer spending in May, with income rising by 0.5 percent and disposable personal income also climbing by 0.5 percent. The spending boost was more than double what economists expected ahead of the report.

Small business loan freeze evenly spread among banks

Data from the FDIC shows that small, midsized and large banks have all reported steady declines in small business lending since the recession, and in each category, that decline has been relatively uniform across all loan sizes, though recent signs point to recovery on the horizon.