Cheyenne Fox attaches radio frequency tracking tags, required by law, to maturing pot plants inside a grow house, at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, Colorado. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

A review of the biggest small business and startup stories from the past week, with a focus on Washington.

Owners ho-hum on the new year: Nearly one in four small employers are more optimistic about the future of their firms now than at this time last year, according to a new poll by Gallup and Wells Fargo while slightly more say their outlook has dampened. (WP)

An Obamacare remedy for some small firms: The Obama administration has introduced another temporary fix for the troubled rollout of the health care law, granting special access to tax breaks for some — but not all — small firms that are not served by the new government-run health insurance marketplace. (WP)

Manufacturing claws its way back: Manufacturing activity held steady near a two-year high last month, and construction stepped up spending on new homes toward the end of the year, giving many hope that the broader economic recovery is gaining momentum. (AP)

Health care changes take effect: When the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, a number of key provisions of the health care law set in, including an expanded tax credit for small businesses and a hefty new fee on insurance providers. Here’s a full rundown for employers. (WP)

Recreational marijuana sales commence: On New Years Day, two dozen new marijuana retailers in Colorado began legally selling weed to consumers for recreational use for the first time, thanks to a first-in-the-nation law approving such sales. Next up: Washington state. (AP)

SeaTac wage experiment hits businesses:Officials in the small airport town of SeaTac in Washington have hiked the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the effects have already forced some employers in the area into some difficult decisions. The move offers a glimpse out how a nationwide wage hike could effect small firms. (WSJ)

A sock startup inside the Pentagon: Three federal workers-turned-entrepreneurs are building a new sock company — that is, in their spare time, when they aren’t all working for the Defense Department. The founders are launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to get their venture off the ground. (WP)

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

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