) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. Senate introduces a workplace pregnancy bill.

Pregnant women have been historically under-served when it comes to labor rights. Last week, Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) introduced The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a bill to require employers to make workplace accommodations for pregnant women similar to those that are made by law for disabled persons, according to the

Huffington Post


While pregnant women are protected by law from being fired from their job simply for being pregnant, "employers can still refuse to accommodate pregnant women's basic, temporary medical needs at work, essentially forcing them to choose between keeping their job and ensuring the health of their unborn child and themselves," the article says.

As more women work longer into their pregnancies, "they deserve reasonable accommodations to maintain their safety and health," Sen. Shaheen said in a statement cited by



Even with a House version of the bill that was introduced in the spring, the chances of the bill becoming law this year are slim.

2. The B Corp. going global.

Nonprofit organization

B Lab

announced at the Clinton Global Initiative that it has committed to adding new companies to be designated as so-called B Corporations from 20 countries in 2013.


B Corp.

is a corporate legal structure that will likely appeal to for-profit businesses that have also made it part of their mission to contribute to environmental and sustainability efforts.

B Lab says there has been demand from entrepreneurs around the world to enter the B Corp. community.

"By extending the B Corp. movement into emerging markets in South America, India, Asia, and Africa, the B Corp. movement will have dramatic impact on the development of more inclusive and sustainable economies," says Andrew Kassoy, B Lab's co-founder.

As part of the launch, B Lab announced its first international partnership, working with

Sistema B

to build the B Corp. movement in South America. The goal is to have 100 South American companies use the designation by the end of 2013.

B Lab is targeting a total of 750 certified B Corps globally, it says.

The goal is to build a community that shows the difference between "good companies" and just good marketing. B Lab also is looking to pass legislation in all 50 states to recognize the term.

3. What crowdfunding rules mean for small businesses.

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Earlier this year, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) tasked the Securities and Exchange Commission to establish rules that would ease complex regulations for small companies seeking to raise money in the capital markets.

American Express

(AXP) - Get American Express Company Report

OPEN Forum

took a look at what's been done so far. Currently, the agency requires companies to register offerings or use an exemption, which prohibits them from advertising the securities, AmEx OPEN says. The JOBS Act mandated that the SEC remove the ban. The SEC has proposed allowing companies to solicit and advertise their securities for sale to accredited investors.

Small business owners need to take "reasonable" steps to ensure that their investors are accredited (net worth of more than $1 million or income of more than $200,000).

The SEC has until the end of the year to create rules for smaller investors, who are limited to using popular crowdfunding sites like



-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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