Colorado Sen. Mark Udall has introduced a legislative amendment to his own business bill that would increase the amount of small-business loans that credit unions are allowed to make from 12.25 percent of their total assets to 27.5 percent.

The bill is intended to help small businesses invest in technology research.

In a speech on the Senate floor today, Udall touted the amendment as a no-cost way to increase lending.  He said that as debate continues, he will continue to push for the amendment and the original bill, the Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technical Transfer Reauthorization Act.

Opponents believe the amendment gives credit unions an unfair advantage over traditional banks.

The Credit Union National Association estimates that Udall’s bill could increase small-business lending by nearly $200 million in Colorado and more than $10 billion nationally in the first year.

Udall said the expanded lending capabilities could generate as many as 100,000 new jobs in the first year, and the amendment includes criteria that credit unions must meet before gradually increasing their lending cap.

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“My bill would free up capital – without costing taxpayers a dime – so that credit unions can loan to local small businesses that need to make payroll, buy inventory or expand their businesses,” Udall said.