The state’s economy will get a boost from entrepreneurs tapping into a 21st-century model of financial backing to start businesses and create jobs, under the Washington Jobs Act of 2014, a bill passed by the Senate March 8.
“We’re allowing our state to better attract and support entrepreneurs - and to capitalize on their energy and brainpower,” the bill’s lead sponsor, Rep. Cyrus Habib, said. “And now the general public can participate as investors in startups and small businesses, too.”
Habib’s House Bill 2023 allows Washingtonians to engage in investor crowdfunding, the practice of raising money, often over the Internet, by soliciting small investments from numerous investors. An outgrowth of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding techniques have been popularized by ventures like Kickstarter. But entrepreneurs are hampered in the use of crowdfunding by complex securities regulations that are expensive and burdensome.
The measure was approved 46-2 in the Senate. It was approved earlier by an overwhelming margin in the House, and it will return to the House for agreement in Senate amendments, which is expected to occur within the week.
The bill is tailored to apply only to Washington state companies raising limited amounts of capital in small individual amounts from in-state investors. Once the measure becomes law, Washington would join only a handful of states that have opened up equity crowdfunding.
Cyrus represents the 48th Legislative District, which includes parts of Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue and all of Clyde Hill, Hunts Point, Yarrow Point and Medina. He was first elected to the House in 2012.
Cyrus grew up in Bellevue and attended Bellevue public schools. At age 8, he lost his eyesight to cancer, but he went on to college at Columbia, to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and to Yale Law School, where he was editor of the law review. He currently practices law with the Seattle firm of Perkins Coie, specializing in meeting the legal needs of high-tech start-ups.
Cyrus has served on the Bellevue Human Services Commission and on the King County Civil Rights Commission. An advocate for the disabled, he has testified before Congress on the need to redesign paper currency to enable the visually impaired to distinguish among different denominations. He is a trustee of the Bellevue College Foundation, which raises money for scholarships for students with financial need, and a member of the board of the Bellevue Downtown Association.
Cyrus lives in Kirkland. He enjoys spending time with his family, visiting the region's varied restaurants and playing jazz piano.
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