Pro-ESOP bill seeking to direct the SBA to help ESOPs passes the House by a voice vote.
On May 8, the House passed H.R. 5236—the Main Street Employee Ownership Act—by a voice vote. The bill was introduced in March by Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), who collaborated with the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on the measure.
Sen. Gillibrand introduced a companion piece of legislation—S. 2786—on April 26.
Speaking on the House floor prior to the vote, Rep. Velazquez said: "The bill before us will reward workers and invest in our main street economy by improving the lending landscape for employee owned businesses, such as employee stock ownership plans and co-ops."
Two other House members spoke on behalf of the measure.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), whose district includes ESOP Association member the New Belgium Brewing company, provided a strong endorsement of the bill. "This bill builds on the bipartisan language that I helped secure in the omnibus appropriations bill directing the SBA to encourage employee ownership," he said on the House floor. "And passing this bill will make those changes in the one year spending bill that expire Sept. 30 permanent."
Rep. Polis also provided spirited support for employee ownership in general, stating: "Employee ownership is an important part of helping workers build wealth. In addition to the income gap in this country, we also have a wealth gap. And when a company does well, everybody should do well, not just the investors."
Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), the chair of the House Small Business Committee in which the bill was introduced, said "H.R. 5236 streamlines how employee owned businesses operate under the important rules of the SBA 7(a) Loan Program. While preserving important characteristics of the program, H.R. 5236 will help employee owned businesses as they seek capital to grow, expand, and create much needed jobs."