How the Federal stimulus bill affects the court reporting and captioning industry

This is important information regarding the Federal stimulus bill for NCRA members who are independent contractors (i.e. freelancers) in the reporting and captioning industry, as well as legal videographers, scopists, and others in our industry. NCRA’s Government Relations department has been actively following all bills and is working to make sure that our freelance community is heard. Special thanks to NCRA’s lobbyist, Jocelynn Moore, for pulling a lot of this together. We understand the impact of this bill on all of us and want to try and give you timely updates.

As with everything COVID-19, things are changing hourly. There is a call to action for you at the end of this communication to push this across the finish line, so PLEASE read the entire message. I apologize that this is long, but this is crucial information for you and your business.

On Wednesday night, the U.S. Senate passed a $2 trillion stimulus package (96-0 for passage) that included many things that will help the average American survive the pandemic we are currently experiencing. The 880-page piece of legislation included many things to help employers, employees, and independent contractors. We will give you a high-level analysis of this massive bill, but we will be working over the next weeks to dive into it and give you direction on where you can seek assistance. Please understand that this is not legal or employment advice but simply guidance. Your professional Association is trying to provide you with the direction to apply for assistance, if needed. We will continue to provide information, links, and analysis as funding and opportunities present themselves. This is exactly why being a member is important and what NCRA is here for.

Here are some bullet points regarding the passed Senate bill.

H.R. 748, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act

  • This is the $2 trillion Coronavirus Relief package.
  • It was passed by the Senate on March 25, 2020, by a 96-0 vote, and heads to the House for a voice-vote to be held tomorrow, Friday, March 27, 2020.
  • Upon passage by the House and signature by the President, the bill will be enacted into law.
  • The bill, as passed by the Senate, contains provisions to provide financial assistance to American adults, extension of the unemployment insurance program for laid-off workers, and loans for small businesses impacted by coronavirus, among other provisions. The relevant provisions pertinent to court reporters and captioners are detailed below.

Title 1 – Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act

Provision: Sec. 1102. Paycheck Protection Program.(Small Business Loans)

Purpose: This is emergency assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury, which provides $350 billion in funding for a provision to create a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP provides small businesses and other entities with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million dollars. This emergency assistance can be used in conjunction with other COVID-19 assistance established by Congress or another SBA loan program.

Individuals Eligible for Relief:

  • Small Businesses, 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, 501(c)(19) veteran’s organizations, or tribal businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Sole proprietors
  • Independent contractors
  • Self-employed individuals
  • Businesses with more than one physical location, so long as no more than 500 employees are employed in each location.

Description of Relief:

  • The maximum loan amount that may be borrowed will be $10 million dollars with a maximum interest rate of 4 percent through December 31, 2020.
  • The allowable uses of the loan include payroll support (employee salaries), paid sick leave, paid medical leave, insurance premiums, business mortgage payments, business rental payments, and business utility payments.
  • Requires eligible borrowers to make a good faith certification that the loan is necessary due to the uncertainty of current economic conditions caused by COVID-19 and that the loan funds will be used for the above business purposes.
  • Up to eight weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels.
  • Principal and interest are deferred for up to a year and all borrower fees waived.

Additional Information: The covered loan period begins on February 15, 2020, and ends on June 30, 2020.

Specific Provision: Sec. 1110. Emergency Economic Injury Grants

Purpose: Expands eligibility for access to Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to include small businesses during the covered period of January 31, 2020, to December 31, 2020. The stimulus includes $10 billion in funding for a provision to provide an advance of $10,000 to small businesses and non-profits that apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan within 3 days of applying for the loan.

Individuals Eligible for Relief:

  • Small businesses
  • Employee-owned businesses
  • Cooperatives
  • Individuals operating as sole proprietors
  • Individuals operating as independent contractors
  • Private non-profit organizations and tribal organizations.

Description of Relief:

  • This provision establishes an Emergency Grant to allow an eligible entity who has applied for an EIDL loan due to COVID-19, to request an advance on that loan of not more than $10,000. The Small Business Administration (SBA) must then distribute that grant within three days.
  • Borrowers may loan up to $2 million dollars with an interest rate of 3.75 percent for companies and 2.75 percent for nonprofits, with principal and interest deferment for up to four years.
  • Approval based solely on an applicant’s credit score or use of an appropriate alternative method to determine applicant’s ability to pay.
  • The loans may be used to provide paid sick leave to employees, maintain payroll, meet increased production costs, and business obligations such as rental or mortgage payments.
  • Eligible grant recipients must have been in operation on January 31, 2020.

Title 2 – Assistance for American Workers, Families, and Businesses:

Subtitle A – Unemployment Insurance

Specific Provision: Sec. 2102. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Purpose: Creates a new program modeled on Disaster Unemployment Assistance to individuals that provides unemployment compensation to individuals who do not normally qualify for unemployment benefits and who are not able to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individuals Eligible for Relief:

  • Self-employed workers, including gig workers and independent contractors
  • Part-time workers
  • Workers with limited work histories

Description of Relief: Sections 2104 and 2107 define the relief:

  • Sec. 2104: Provides an emergency increase in unemployment compensation by adding an additional, taxable $600 to every weekly unemployment benefit. The increase will last until July 31, 2020.
  • Sec. 2107: Provides emergency unemployment compensation, which would make available 13 additional weeks of federally funded unemployment compensation for individuals who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits. This will be available immediately through December 31, 2020.

Additional Information: This entire program is administered through the states, is federally funded, and will be effective through December 31, 2020.

Subtitle B – Individual Provisions

Specific Provision: Sec. 2201. Recovery Rebates for Individuals.

Description of Relief:

  • This provision provides $1,200 for single individuals an heads-of-households ($2,400 for couples filing joint tax returns). It also provides $500 per qualifying child dependent under age 17. For instance, a family of four would receive $3,400.
  • The payments phase out at a 5 percent rate above adjusted gross incomes of $75,000 for single individuals, $122,500 for heads-of-households, and $150,000 for married couples who file jointly.
  • Tax filers must provide Social Security Numbers (SSN) for each family member claiming a rebate payment (there is an exception for spouses of active military members.
  • The rebate payments are fully available to residents of all 50 U.S. States and U.S. Territories, including Puerto Rico.
  • The payments will be paid out in the form of a check or direct deposit on the basis of the taxpayers’ filed tax year 2019 returns (or 2018 if not yet filed).
  • The rebate payments will be made between now and December 31, 2020.

Subtitle C – Business Provisions

Specific Provision: Sec. 2301. Employee Retention Credit for Employers Subject to Closing or Experiencing Economic Hardship Due to COVID-19.

Purpose: This provision provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50 percent of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis.

Individuals Eligible for Relief:

  • Employers or Non-Profit Organizations whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings.
  • Employers who have experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in quarterly receipts (measured on a year-over-year basis).
  • Employees who are furloughed or face reduced hours as a result of their employers’ closure or economic hardship due to COVID-19.
  • Employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees, regardless of whether the employee is furloughed.
  • NOT ELLIGIBLE: If an employer is already receiving a Small Business Interruption Loan.

Description of Relief:

  • The credit is provided to employers for wages and compensation, including health benefits.
  • The credit is provided for the first $10,000 in wages and compensation paid by the employer to an eligible employee.
  • Wages do not include payroll credits for required paid sick leave, paid family leave, or paid family and medical leave.
  • The Secretary of the Treasury makes these payments to eligible employers.
  • The credit is provided through December 31, 2020.

Specific Provision: Sec. 2302. Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes.

Purpose: This provision allows taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through 2020 to alleviate the burden of employers struggling to make payroll.

Description of Relief:

  • Allows employers’ share of the 6.2 percent Social Security tax to be deferred past the current 2020 taxable year. Fifty percent of the tax will be due on December 31, 2021, and the other fifty percent will be due on December 31, 2022.
  • A self-employed taxpayer can defer paying 50 percent of his or her self-employment tax past the current 2020 taxable year. Twenty-five percent will be due on December 31, 2021, and the other twenty-five percent will be due on December 31, 2022.

The House of Representatives will be voting on this bill on Friday, so it is CRITICAL you call your House member and ask them to pass the stimulus bill. You are encouraged to tell them how important this is to you personally and your need for economic relief, and to thank them for thinking of the average American (as a freelancer, employee, or employer). That is really all you need to say to the office.

You can find your personal House member by going here https://www.house.gov/ and typing in your zip code in the upper righthand corner of the landing page.

We hope you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy. We will continue to work for you on these issues and provide resources to help you during these unprecedented times.

Sincerely,

Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC

NCRA’s Executive Director

How deaf advocates won the battle for closed captioning

Time magazine posted an article on March 16 that covers the history of how closed captioning came to be.

Read more.

Wyoming Reporting Services receives 2020 Best of Cheyenne Award

Wyoming Reporting Services Inc has been selected for the 2020 Best of Cheyenne Award in the Court Reporter category by the Cheyenne Award Program, according to a press release issued March 16.

Read more.

What does your week look like?

We recently checked in with our social media followers to see what they had planned this week since COVID-19 is changing everyone’s schedule. Here are some of their answers:

I’m still going to the courthouse every day. There isn’t much on the schedule and I may get sent home, but I am reporting in as scheduled.

Beverly Bleigh, RPR

Official

Davenport, Iowa


I lucked out … none of my CART classes cancelled so far — three classes went to Zoom, the other classes I’m providing transcripts of recorded lectures. CARTing a few remote meetings as well.

Ashly Jo Jenkins, CRC

Captioner

Belmond, Iowa


Sonya Kennedy’s mask making efforts

Still going to the courthouse with a very light schedule. It’s a good time to finish transcripts. I’m thinking of bringing my sewing machine and making some pocket masks over the lunch hour in the jury room

Sonya M. Kennedy, RPR

Official

Omaha, Neb.


I’ve got some jobs on the calendar this week, but who knows if they’ll actually go. I’ve got transcripts to get out, but we’re staying home and hopefully staying healthy. My kids start back to school after their spring break tomorrow, so we’ll be getting into the groove of home schooling.

Emily O’Brien

Freelancer

Tampa, Fla.


Only two days scheduled for youth court this week. We are only hearing matters that “must” be heard, i.e., detention and shelter hearings. Our administration is setting up stations at the door to screen everyone coming into the building for temperature and questions regarding where you have been, etc. We are spacing matters further apart than usual and asking the youth court parties to sign in but return to their cars, and they will be called in when we are ready for them. We will also have counselors and case workers appear remotely either by video conferencing or telephonically so as to limit the amount of people in the room at one time.

Jackie Freese

Official

Meridian, Miss.


Working remotely, but two of my universities have spring break so it’s a light schedule.

Laura Melby, RPR, CRR, CRC

CART captioner

Rootstown, Ohio


Ten transcripts to edit lol. Not like attorneys are banging down my door for them right now.

Gina DiLuzio, RPR

Freelancer

Las Vegas, Nev.


I’ll be remote reporting court hearings starting Tuesday. Practice sessions went well. I think we’ve got this.

Yvette Heinze, RPR

Official

Helena, Mont.


Court is canceled until at least May. No discoveries yet.

Diana Halvorsen, RPR

Freelancer

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Working daily. Taking down telephonic hearings and tending to emergency court matters.

Tatelyn Noda, RPR

Official

Jackson, Ala.


One remote on Wednesday so far … shelter in place.

Lucy Carrillo-Grubbs, RMR, CRR

Freelancer

San Francisco, Calif.


Hoping to take depositions remotely.

Kathleen McGovern McHugh, RPR, CRR

Freelancer

Audubon, N.J.


No pages.

Kelley Marie Nadotti, RPR

Freelancer

Eatonton, Ga.


I’m still working in a courtroom.

Karen Kahle, RPR

Official

Vail, Ariz.

Reporting a PGA Golf Tournament

Deborah Kriegshauser with Hale Irwin.

NCRA member Deborah Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, CLVS, shares a memory of one of her most unusual jobs.

JCR | When and where was the job?

DK | I was asked to caption media interviews of the Senior PGA Golf Tournament players at the Boone Valley (Members Only) Golf Course in Augusta, Mo., in 2000.

JCR | What made the job unique?

DK | It was literally the middle of nowhere. They couldn’t find any freelancer who would accept the job as they were not wanting to pay in cash but, instead, provide four tournament passes to the four-day event, which included celebrity golf tournaments with the PGA players before the big tournament began. In doing so, I personally got to meet Arnold Palmer, along with Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Chi-Chi Rodríguez, and many big-name players. As they came off the golf course each day, they would be interviewed individually, and I would report the interview and provided instantaneous transcripts to the media folks for their use in their articles and TV programs. 

JCR | Did anything else make the job memorable?

Kriegshauser with golfer Larry Nelson

DK | I would be there until dark, but the family and friends who used my tournament passes ended up winning all these attendance ticket prizes that the sponsors were giving away. They were sometimes the only ones left in the area, waiting on me to get done. They walked away with Adirondack chairs, coolers, you name it. It was a pretty awesome experience.

I have a pole flag that all the PGA players signed. It is very special to me. I’ve been told it’s worth a lot of money, especially with all the players who have passed away, including Arnold Palmer.

Deborah Kriegshauser, FAPR, RMR, CRR, CRC, CLVS, is an official reporter in Dallas, Texas.

NCRA E-seminar Spring Sale

Need CEUs? Don’t miss this special deal on e-seminars recorded at the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo.  Make your purchase between midnight March 24 and midnight March 26 Eastern time. The seminars will then be available for viewing from April 1-30.

Bundled seminars

The spring bundle includes 4 e-seminars for the discounted price of $60 members/$85 nonmembers (regularly $220/$316). Earn 0.4 CEUs.

  • Ethics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, presenters Deanna Baker, RMR, and Heidi Thomas, RDR, CRR, CRC: Attendees will get a detailed description of the Captioners Code of Professional Ethics and leave with a better understanding of the various aspects of the Code that they can use on a daily basis.
  • The Lost Art of Professionalism, presenter Marsha Naegeli, CMRS, CRI: Learn the subtle and not-so-subtle tweaks to your personal brand that will set you apart from others in the room, elevate your business, and enhance your life. Gain new perspectives on the many ways in which professionalism can make an impact on the entire profession.
  • A Guide to Social Media for Post-Millennials, presenters Lauren Lawrence, RPR, and Matthew Moss, RPR: This session is designed to help participants navigate the benefits and pitfalls of using social media as a means for connecting and collaborating across multiple platforms. It will also help them avoid potentially career-damaging mistakes.
  • Back to School: A Day in the Life of a University of Wisconsin-Madison Staff CART Provider, presenter Kristen Wurgler, RPR: Topics include providing successful post-secondary CART in the classroom, accessibility versus verbatim writing, STEM captioning, and special adaptations for hard-of-hearing or deaf consumers to increase inclusion and enhance the learning experience.

Individual seminars

These e-seminars are only sold individually. Receive a 69 percent discount from regular prices ($65 members/$89 nonmembers).

  1. Captioning a Sporting Event 101:   Baseball, Basketball, Football, and Hockey, presenter Sandra Smith, RPR: 0.125 CEU $20 members/$28 nonmembers: Learn a few basics of each game, discussing positions, plays, and terminology. Tips and tricks for captioning a sporting event. The goal is to give the participants a basic understanding of each event to prep and take a on captioning assignment.
  2. Where Languages Intersect – Best Practices in Interpreted Proceedings, presenter Aimee Benavides: 0.125 CEU $20 members/$28 nonmembers: This session is designed to help individual court reporters as well as owners of court reporting firms to understand the best practices of interpreters which affect interpreted proceedings, foreign language transcription and translation requests, requests for vital statistics translation, and other special requests.
  3. How Voice Writing Technology Works:  Dispelling Myths and Explaining Facts, presenter Tori Pittman, RDR, CRI, FAPR, CVR-CM-M, RCP: 0.125 CEU $20 members/$28 nonmembers: There are many stories about voice writing out there but what is the reality? Get an in-depth explanation of how the technology works, how it is similar to steno (and how it’s different), and the practicalities of working as a professional using this method of reporting.

The latest from NCRA

Court Reporters, Captioners, Videographers, Scopists, Proofreaders, Associate members, and other professionals who support our industry:
I wanted to update everyone as to where we stand and what is in the works from the NCRA Board of Directors and leadership and staff for all things court reporting and captioning related.
1)     On Monday, March 16, NCRA hosted a videoconference seminar with affiliate state and regional association leadership and convention planners. As many of you know, most state and regional associations hold their conventions from late winter into early summer, and the COVID-19 crisis is negatively impacting those planned events, with most canceling or rescheduling to later dates. It has the potential to seriously impact our affiliate members financially, and NCRA, via this seminar and other assistance, is doing everything we can to negate the damage and fallout for our affiliates. We want our affiliate associations to be empowered with the appropriate information they need to weather this situation.
2)     The response to the live webinar led by NCRA Director Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR, and Immediate Past President Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, and NCRA Vice President Debra Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, addressing the nuts and bolts of getting started offering your services remotely via Zoom or other video/teleconference capabilities was so overwhelming that we added two additional sessions to accommodate everyone who signed up. Our Zoom capacity maxed out for all three offerings at 1,500 participants (500 per session) and have stretched the resources of our esteemed colleagues to be able to give the seminars live over and over again. I am thankful for what they have volunteered to do. They truly are consummate professionals, and we are fortunate to have them as part of our professional family!
3)     The aforementioned seminar was video recorded, and it will be offered after April 1 for those individuals who were unable to sign up for or attend the live offering. There is a small administrative fee of $10 for members and $30 for nonmembers. It will become part of the NCRA bank of eseminars that we have available for viewing.
4)     The NCRA Board of Directors is working on seminars that will offer more advanced training on videoconferencing and teleconferencing work. One will focus specifically on high-end issues and capabilities with videoconference remote feed for captioning, and the other will focus on the same things for judicial reporting. We are planning to offer both presentations in about two weeks.
5)     The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, currently being debated in the U.S. House and Senate, includes a section that addresses independent contractors/self-employed individuals. NCRA Government Relations is monitoring the situation, and as we have more information regarding the act in its final form and as it becomes law, we will update you as to the impact it will have on our industry and on you as individuals.  We will address this more during NCRA Town Hall on Saturday, March 21. Register using this link
6)     Since NCRA has canceled the NCRA Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp due to the continuing crisis, we are working on a one-day videoconference live stream webinar. We are approaching it as encompassing leadership development, as well as knowledge/skill development for reporters and captioners — a Stenopalooza of sorts!
7)     We are holding off on making any decisions about the 2020 NCRA Conference & Expo in August until late May/early June. I assure you, we will err on the side of caution, but we do not want to react too quickly. We have time to readjust and make decisions as we get closer.
I promise and assure you, the NCRA Board of Directors, staff, and volunteer leadership members are working hard and doing our very best in managing these issues. Many of the NCRA Board and volunteers are, in addition, managing their own personal businesses in reporting and captioning, as all NCRA board members are still working professionals; and NCRA staff is doing a tremendous job managing the day-to-day issues on top of the fantastic job they already do on a daily basis while working remotely.
We are going to get through this together. I would encourage everyone to remember, it costs nothing extra to offer kindness, compassion, and understanding to one another. Be safe, be smart, be informed, and make fact-based decisions grounded in reasoning and knowledge.
On behalf of the NCRA Board and staff, I send our best wishes to all of you and your families!

Max Curry, RPR, CRI

NCRA President

What states allow remote and/or online notarization?

Please note that each state’s notarization laws are different and may only apply to specific proceedings. These laws may specifically refer to the notarization of documents and may not include provisions concerning the oath requirement. Please check with your State Notary, Secretary of State, or other regulatory agency for your state’s specific remote notarization or oath administration laws. If you have any additional updates or changes to this information, please contact NCRA Director of State Government Relations Jocelynn Moore at jmoore@ncra.org.

Faced with both the need to practice safety in this health crisis and yet the need to allow justice to continue its work, many court reporters are attempting to make the remote office accessible for courtrooms and depositions. Keep in mind that for some states and for some officials, their ability to swear in a witness is embedded within their licenses or within their official duties as a court reporter.

According to the National Notary Association, “remote notarization” happens when a signer personally appears before the Notary at the time of the notarization using audio-visual technology over the internet instead of being physically present in the same room. Remote online notarization is also called webcam notarization, online notarization, or virtual notarization.

Several states have implemented changes to laws in the past few months which allow for remote notarization, and we have attempted to gather that information for you here:

Alabama – Effective March 24, 2020, through April 16, 2020, official court reporters, special roving court reporters, special court reporters, supernumerary court reporters, and freelance court reporters qualified to administer an oath in the state of Alabama to a witness in a deposition or court proceeding or trial may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communication technology if the deposition or court proceeding or trial is conducted by audio-video communication equipment that allows the court reporter and the witness simultaneously to view and orally communicate with each other, provided that the court reporter can positively identify the witness.

Alaska – Can swear witnesses telephonically since the 1990s. 

Connecticut – Effective March 24, 2020, through June 23, 2020, all relevant state laws and regulations are hereby modified to permit any notarial act that is required under Connecticut law to be performed using an electronic device or process that allows a notary public commissioned by the Connecticut Secretary of the State and a remotely located individual to communicate with each other simultaneously by sight and sound (“Communication Technology”), provided that certain conditions are met.

Florida 

Georgia – Currently, there is no clear legal authority expressly barring a court reporter from administering an oath remotely, nor is there authority expressly permitting it. Remote depositions, in general, are permitted by Georgia’s Civil Practice Act. “[A] deposition may be taken by telephone or other remote electronic means only upon the stipulation of the parties or by order of the court. For purposes of the requirements of this chapter, a deposition taken by telephone or other remote electronic means is taken in the state and at the place where the deponent is to answer questions.” OCGA § 9-11-30(b)(4). However, the Act does not address whether a court reporter must be physically present with a witness in order to swear the witness in. No appellate legal authority interpreting this code section to impose a live swearing-in requirement could be located; however, no legal authority interpreting it to bar remote swearing-in was located either.

Idaho 

Indiana — pending implementation – Although the notarization laws took effect July 1, 2019, the state required additional time to implement remote notarization rules and technology. Contact the notarization office or regulating agency for information on when remote notarization procedures and services will be made fully available.

Kentucky — pending legislation

Maine – Effective March 25, 2020 until further ordered by the State of Maine Supreme Judicial Court. An officer or other person before whom a deposition is to be taken is hereby authorized to administer oaths and take testimony remotely, so long as that officer or other person can both see and hear the deponent via audio-video communication equipment or technology for purposes of positively identifying the deponent. In addition, all parties are reminded that, “[u]nless the court orders otherwise, the parties may by written stipulation (1) provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner and when so taken may be used like other depositions, and (2) modify the procedures provided by these rules for other methods of discovery.” M.R. Civ. P. 29. If the parties so stipulate to the person before whom the deposition is to be taken, that person has the authority to administer oaths.

Michigan — pending implementation

Minnesota – Effective January 1, 2019, the Minnesota Legislature enacted remote online notarization pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 358 and 359, allowing a notary public who is physically located in this state to perform a remote online notarial act as defined in Minnesota Statutes 358.645.

Mississippi – All persons qualified to administer an oath in the State of Mississippi may swear a witness remotely by audio-video communications equipment for purposes of readily identifying the witness until otherwise ordered by the Supreme Court of Mississippi.

Missouri – Effective March 25, 2020, until otherwise further ordered by the Supreme Court of Missouri. The Court hereby suspends any local or Missouri Supreme Court rule that may be interpreted to require administering any oath or affirmation in-person when such oaths or affirmations can be administered remotely by available technologies, including videoconferencing or teleconferencing, and is not otherwise prohibited by any statutory or constitutional provision.

Montana – Effective October 1, 2019, Montana Notaries are permitted to perform remote notarizations for signers outside the state.

Nevada

New York – Effective March 7, 2020, through April 18, 2020, any notarial act that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that certain requirements are met. As of 2017, the New York Department of State, with regard to CPLR 3113(d), stated that “…with respect to civil depositions, a notary may under the specific provisions of Article 31 of the CPLR and in compliance therewith, swear in a remote witnesses. …” 

North Dakota – The webcam notarization law took effect August 1, 2019. The statute permits the Secretary of State to publish rules for remote notarization, but the Secretary of State is not required to do so.

Ohio – The Ohio Notary Public Modernization Act took effect September 2019. An online notarization is permitted by an Ohio notary public who has been authorized by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office to perform online notarizations. With regard to remote oath administration during depositions, the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure contemplates the use of remote depositions (See Ohio R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6)). However, the rules do not state that the oath has to be administered in person. The Ohio rules regarding notaries public (see Ohio Revised Code 147) do not address the in-person administration of oaths at a deposition.

Oklahoma 

Pennsylvania – Effective March 21, 2020, the requirement of physical presence of notaries who are court reporters/stenographers participating in criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings is suspended as pertaining to notarial acts and oaths of affirmations and will only last the duration of the declared disaster emergency.

South Dakota – The state’s remote notarizations are currently limited to paper documents only and signers for remote notarizations may only be identified through the Notary’s personal knowledge.

Tennessee

Texas – The Texas Supreme Court issued Emergency Order No. 1 allowing for all participants in a civil or criminal proceeding – including a Texas Certified Shorthand Reporter – to appear remotely until it expires on May 8 or is extended. 

Vermont – Notaries public holding a commission to perform notarial acts in Vermont may perform a Remote Notarial Act while physically located in Vermont and only under specified conditions.

Virginia

West Virginia – Effective March 25, 2020. The statutory regulation with respect to the provisions of the Code applicable to court reporters and other notaries, the requirements of personal appearance for a notarial act that relates to a statement made in or a signature executed on record is suspended for the duration of the State of Emergency.

Wisconsin – Effective March 25, 2020 until April 30, 2020. Pursuant to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin’s administrative and superintending authority, court reporters qualified to administer an oath in the State of Wisconsin may administer an oath to a witness at a deposition remotely via audio-visual communications technology from a location within the State of Wisconsin, provided the person administering the oath can see and hear the person and can identify the witness. It is further ordered that if a witness is not located within the State of Wisconsin, the witness may consent to being put on oath remotely via audio-visual communication technology by a court reporter qualified to administer an oath in the State of Wisconsin pursuant to this order. It is further oredered that (1) this order does not alter the ability of parties, by written stipulation, to provide that depositions may be taken before any person, at any time or place, upon any notice, and in any manner pursuant to Wis. Stat. § (Rule) 804.04; and (2) the parties to an action or proceeding may, by written stipulation, modify the procedures provided by this order. It is further ordered that the remote administration of an oath at a deposition via audio-visual communications technology pursuant to this order shall constitute the administration of an oath “before” a court reporter under Wis. Stat. §§ (Rules) 804.03(1) and 887.01(1) or any court order authorizing a deposition upon oral examination; and any other rule of procedure, court order, or opinion applicable to remote depositions that can be read to limit or prohibit the use of audio-visual communication equipment to administer oaths at depositions remotely is hereby suspended.

Still to come

A few other states have enacted remote notarization laws, but these have not taken effect. If you work in one of the following states, be sure to check with your State Notary, Secretary of State, or other regulatory agency for your state’s specific remote notarization or oath administration laws.

Arizona, effective July 1, 2020.

Iowa, effective July 1, 2020.

Maryland, effective October 1, 2020.

Nebraska, effective July 1, 2020.

Washington, effective October 1, 2020.

As a final reminder, if any of your licenses are set to expire in the next few months, taking action early could help you keep working in case the situation worsens.

Tips for captioners about working through coronavirus

Captioners have been reporting both cancellations of on-site jobs and an increase in remote jobs as the coronavirus pandemic has led to the closures of colleges, conferences, and even courtrooms. We reached out to a number of captioners to see what they could share to help everyone work through this fast-changing situation.

Just how fast things have changed can be seen in a story from CART captioner Laura Melby, RPR, CRR, CRC, of Rootstown, Ohio, who works with Kent State University, the University of Akron, and Stark State College, where she provides both on-site and remote CART.  She explained that she was on the scene on Monday, March 9, as Kent State held their Faculty Senate meeting and explored what-if scenarios regarding the coronavirus. Melby said, “Administrators were thinking in two-week chunks of time at that point and were looking ahead at what professors would need to do if ever the university would need to close and hold classes online. Monday evening after that Faculty Senate meeting, I emailed supervisors, professors, and students that I work with at all three institutions and let them know that I have experience in remote CART and that, yes, we can continue working together in the event any universities would close in the future.

“Much to my surprise, less than 24 hours later we were informed that classes would be held online at each university, because all were closing,” Melby continued. “Throughout the week changes have been made on what felt like an hourly basis as administrations had a chance to think through more fully the details of the situation.”

Norma Miller, RPR, CRR, CRC, a captioner and agency owner in St. Albans, Vt., explained that the coronavirus shook up her weekend: “I have spent the entire weekend (very long hours) helping to set up a new client for a big event that has been last-minute transitioned to virtual, and coordinating for one of our captioners (who is local to the event) to be able to caption for them.” At the same time, like many of us, she was also trying to prepare for her family and get ready to shelter in place.

Karen Yates, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, a captioner in Minden, Nev., and a past president of NCRA, shared: “Over 60 hours of remote meetings and conferences cancelled for the month of March alone, both U.S. and international. For those already working remotely, hang on. The demand will increase when people realize the benefits of abandoning in-person for online events.”

Patricia K. Graves, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, an agency owner and CART captioner based in Monument, Colo., shared: “While I am feeling an effect for conferences and international meetings, the rest of my work is continuing on steadily. I am lucky!”

Two important qualities for weathering this challenge are to be prepared and remain calm. Carol Studenmund, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, chair of NCRA’s Captioner Subcommittee on Captioning Inclusivity, an agency owner and captioner based in Portland, Ore., said: “We never know when something out of the ordinary is going to happen. It could be a weather event or a family issue. And now we can add a pandemic to our life’s experiences. Be prepared both financially and with regards to your health.”

“It’s always a good idea to keep a positive attitude, even if only to get yourself through some tough days and weeks,” continued Studenmund. “I am looking at this situation as an opportunity to show our clients and potential clients how up to the task we are. Our clients need some assurances that we have things under control, and we will provide solutions to their needs, not make their problems bigger.”

“Try to keep things in perspective. Things could be much worse. Adjust your expectations and try to enjoy the slowdown,” said Miller.

Go remote – and stay home

Those already set up to work remotely are seeing the advantages of past training now. “Working remotely has turned out to be a real win for me,” said Yates. “Captioning from my home, I am able to socially distance myself as the crisis builds, thus protecting my health and the health of my family. I’m also able to keep working. Despite the cancellations, work keeps pouring in. Many of the latest jobs on my books are from classes and meetings that were originally in-person meetings that have gone online in order for those schools and organizations to keep doing business while this virus circulates among our population.”

“We have been showing some old and new clients how easy it can be to switch their onsite events to remote events, and still make them accessible with quality captioning. A few new clients have already come around, because so many have been forced to shift to online, and they want to make their events accessible,” Miller said. “YouTube has recently changed their tools and documentation for setting up for live captioning. But the key words to use when explaining to a client how to set up their livestream for captioning are ‘captioning ingestion URL’ — and tell them to turn OFF (or UNCHECK) autocaptions. The captioning ingestion URL is what you put into your captioning software (or StreamText or 1CapApp) to caption directly to a YouTube live event.” 

If you don’t know how, learn it now

If you haven’t taken the time before, said Studenmund: “Learn it now. Don’t put off learning new skills and tools until this kind of challenge faces you. Pull out some ideas for new software skills you want to learn and learn them now if you have the time available.” If your work schedule is suddenly light, now is a great time to do some training on the many remote products available to report remotely, earn CEUs, or even earn a certification. Attending to any of these tasks during the enforced slowdown could gain you dividends with future jobs.

To get back to learning more:

“Remote CART has two elements,” said Graves. “One is to receive the audio. It can be via a phone line or a Skype connection or a Zoom connection or Blue Jeans. The other connection is a way to see the text so they can click on the URL to see the text. At its most basic level, we have to hear it and they have to receive and see the text.”

“Take advantage of online training programs in your newly found downtime to learn more about working with platforms you may be unfamiliar with, such as Zoom, Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, StreamText and 1CapApp,” said Melby. “No one knows how long the coronavirus pandemic will affect our jobs. We might as well plan for the worst and hope for the best. Having knowledge of several platforms cannot hurt a resume, either, right?”

“Fellow CART providers, this is our time to shine!” said Melby. “My suggestion is to look for ways you can help consumers and then put yourself out there.”

Stay in the know: NCRA event updates, webinars, and more

The webinar is full!

As NCRA, like the rest of the world, continues to adjust to how daily life and the ability to conduct business is being impacted by the constant efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, we encourage all members to be patient as your Board and staff reassess the status of scheduled and future planned events.

In light of the most recent recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and other federal health agencies that the public avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing, NCRA has opted to postpone and possibly reschedule all events that were planned through May, including the 2020 Leadership & Legislative Boot Camp that was scheduled for May 17-19 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton in Alexandria, Va. NCRA will be contacting those who have already registered for the event with information about the reimbursement of registration fees. Information about new dates for this event will be announced in the JCR Weekly and by emails to members at a future date.

NCRA has also canceled the spring CLVS hands-on training and production exam that was scheduled to take place March 27 and 28 at headquarters in Reston, Va. NCRA will hold the training and testing again in the fall with dates to be announced at a later date.

Members who have already booked flights to these and other events are advised to contact their airlines directly to find out more about cancellation and rescheduling procedures.

Staff liaisons will also be contacting members of NCRA committees who planned to attend meetings scheduled to take place at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va. Options could include conducting those meetings via online conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype.

To learn more about these online conferencing platforms, NCRA Immediate Past President Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, and Director Keith Lemons, FAPR, RPR, CRR, are leading a special webinar Thursday, March 19.

The webinar is now full!

If you purchased the webinar, please check your email confirmation. Because of demand, there are now two sessions, one at 7 p.m. and one at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Once members or non-members register, they will be emailed a link to Zoom with information about how to sign into the meeting. We are trying to schedule additional sessions, and we will send out the information when we can. Thank you for your patience.

NCRA members are also encouraged to tune into the next NCRA Town Hall happening March 21 at 10 a.m. Eastern. Conversation will address the coronavirus and how reporters,  captioners, videographers, and associate members can empower and sustain themselves and their families through these rough waters we face as an industry, along with the rest of the world. The NCRA virtual Town Hall meetings also offer members the opportunity to ask questions via the Q&A feature. Questions can also be submitted in advance to lbutler@ncra.org. Register here.

Finally, NCRA members are encouraged to begin checking the Association’s website where the latest developments regarding the status of events, helpful webinars, and links to ensure the most current information is available and accessible about the constantly changing health landscape, will be posted. Watch for updates on the homepage of NCRA.org.