U.S. Representatives Ron Kind (Wis.) and. Rodney Davis (Ill.) introduced the Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2021 on July 22. If enacted into law, it would establish a competitive grant program that allows accredited court reporting and captioning programs to apply for funding for the recruitment of new captioners. The bill would appropriate $10 million dollars annually for five years (for a total of $50 million dollars), with individual institutions eligible to receive up to $1.5 million for the recruitment and training of new captioners. Congressman Kind announced the introduction of the Act during the NCRA Premier Session at the 2021 NCRA Conference & Expo in this video announcement.
In 2007, Kind introduced the initial Training for Realtime Writers Act, which created the competitive grant program and which was included in the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 2008 that was signed into law. Within the HEA, the grant funding allocated to accredited court reporting and captioning institutions extended from 2010 until 2015, with only up to $1 million appropriated to eligible programs. In 2019, representatives Kind and Davis were gracious enough to sponsor similar legislation, the Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2019, with an increase to $1.5 million dollars in funding to individual institutions receiving the grant. However, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic and Congress’s focus on pandemic-related legislation, the bill’s traction stalled, and it died once the 117th Congress took office in January 2021.
With the introduction of the new Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2021, NCRA is looking forward to garnering co-sponsors and seeing this bill through the finish line. NCRA will continue to keep you updated as the bill moves through the legislative process. To read Rep. Ron Kind’s press release about the bill, please visit here.
H.R. 842/S. 420, The Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021 (PRO Act)
In March of this year, we called NCRA members to action about H.R. 842/S. 420, The Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021 (PRO Act). The bill contains provisions — Section 101 specifically — that seek to amend the federal definition of “employee” within the National Relations Act (NLRA), and in doing so, attempts to reclassify independent contractors as employees unless they satisfy a three-pronged test. You can read our previous Call to Action on the PRO Act here.
In February 2021, the PRO Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and headed to the U.S. Senate, where it sat awaiting a hearing by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. On July 22, the HELP Committee held a hearing to discuss protecting the right to organize in which NCRA Government Relations attended virtually. The hearing concerned a discussion on the right to organize by members of the committee and three witnesses and was not a markup hearing. (Markup hearings concern a committee discussion on a specific bill where votes are later cast to determine whether the bill will make it out of committee and onto the Senate floor for a vote.) At this time, the bill has not received a markup hearing, nor has it received the votes to head to the Senate floor for a vote. Aside from holding a markup hearing, senators may try to use other tools, such as budget reconciliation, to attempt to pass a bill that has an unlikely chance of passage. Currently, the PRO Act has a low percentage of passage and is either awaiting a markup hearing or budget reconciliation to move forward in the legislative process. As updates concerning the PRO Act become available, NCRA will make sure to keep members informed.