Tennessee law gives criminal court reporters pay increase

Tennessee Court Reporters Association members convinced state legislators to adopt a law to increase pay for criminal court reporters.
Tennessee Court Reporters Association members convinced state legislators to adopt a law to increase pay for criminal court reporters.

The Tennessee legislature passed a pay increase for criminal reporters in the state. The bills, SB 667 and HB 729, were passed through both state houses with the support of the Tennessee Court Reporters Association (TCRA) legislative committee, and the bills were fully funded in the state budget. The increase is expected to go into effect July 1.

Getting this bill through the houses and signed into law was quite the coup for Tennessee reporters, according to NCRA President-Elect Max Curry, RPR, CRI, who spearheaded the legislation. “A little more than 10 years ago, Tennessee did away with the employee status of criminal reporters in Tennessee and has moved to a contractual status for the criminal courts around Tennessee. Due to the substantially lower amount in per diem and page rate offered by the criminal courts, more and more stenographic reporters were refusing to cover the work in lieu of more lucrative private sector work. The situation was creating a shortage of coverage by stenographic reporters in the criminal court system, and the Administrative Office of the Court (AOC), which administers the criminal reporters in Tennessee, had begun training electronic recording reporters to cover the criminal courts. Of course, as an association we don’t want that, so we got to work on trying to find a solution,” Curry said. 

“The clearest solution was to increase the funds being paid to attract stenographic reporters,” explained Curry. “The AOC expressed a lack of willingness to move the rate up.  We were only asking for them to increase it to the same rate as that offered by other state entities that use stenographic reporters for their hearings, depositions, EUOs, arbitrations, etc., including the Department of Labor, Department of Health, Department of Transportation, and so on. All of these organizations offered higher rates. The AOC couldn’t even compete with the other State entities, much less on an open market. The situation was spiraling out of control quickly, with the AOC offering no solutions that kept the stenographic reporters involved.

“Since the new rate is competitive with other state entities, we feel this will effectively correct the issue and get the criminal courts back on an even keel with the other state entities,” Curry continued. “It will simply be up to the AOC to do rate increases to keep up with inflation and what the other State entities are offering.”

The legislation moved through the process quickly. Every other year, Tennessee’s legislature runs on a fast track, and 2019 was a fast-track year.  “Over three months, we managed to maneuver the bill through the committee/subcommittee system of both House and Senate, work with the legislature on balancing out the fiscal impact of the bill as a law, and get it passed,” said Curry. “It was passed on the final evening of the 111th Tennessee Legislature being in session this year. We literally did this just under the wire of one legislative session, which is next to impossible!

“I took the lead on lobbying to work the bills through the process in the Tennessee House and Senate. Various people from our committee would show up for some of the interviews with legislators, and I would be remiss not to mention them. They were: Dana Webb, TCRA president when the process started; Stephanie Falkner, CRI, CPE, TCRA’s state president as we finished up; Sheila Wilson, TCRA past president and legislative committee member; Sheryl Weatherford, RPR, another TCRA past president and legislative committee member; and Peggy Giles, another wonderful reporter who was part of the legislative team. Each of these people took turns to accompany me to meetings with legislators and advocated for and educated the legislators about our bill and about the court systems in Tennessee and how court reporters are used. In addition, criminal court reporters Lisa Moss, Lori Bice, Gloria Dillard, and Kim Davidson, and many others would show up for subcommittee or committee meetings to show their support of this legislation,” Curry said. “Many of TCRA’s members were involved in the grassroots portion, too, and they did a stellar job of emailing and calling legislators’ offices. I would often hear from the state senators and representatives that people were reaching out and how impressed they were with how organized it all was.”

When asked what he credits the success to, Curry said: “First, we had an excellent game plan. Sheila, Stephanie, and I had all been to NCRA’s Boot Camp in the past, so we had the training. Also, Sheila, Peggy, and I had been through the legislative efforts previously in Tennessee, so all three of us knew how the process worked, and we worked very hard to educate and train the others. In addition, our grassroots organization and ability to get info out to the membership via email blast at a moment’s notice was truly impactful as well…. and they then took action as a group!  Engagement meant everything!

“Most importantly, we had Judge Dee Gay, who is a criminal courts judge here in Tennessee, who worked with us closely, advocated for us, and got us in touch with key legislators to help us,” Curry continued. “One of the attorneys who practices in front of Judge Gay regularly is William Lamberth, who happens to be a State of Tennessee Representative, and who more importantly happens to be the Majority Leader in the House and was our House bill sponsor! This was impactful and quickly opened doors and conversations for us. We did the leg work, and he worked the power struggle in the back. He also worked very hard at making sure we found the money in the budget to address the fiscal impact of this bill as a law. Leader Lamberth also recruited as our senate sponsor a very powerful ally: Pro Tem Speaker of the House Sen. Ferrell Haile!

“That’s not to say that the process was free of problems. While the legislative committee was working to get the legislature to pass the bill to increase pay to the criminal court reporters, two competing bills were also working their way through the process. It took additional education and lobbying to make sure that the legislators understood the impact of these other bills,” explained Curry.

“One of the bills we called the ‘Free Copy Bill,’ which basically would allow litigants (or anyone for that matter) to get a free copy of the transcript once the original was purchased and filed with the court. The second bill was to install an audio recording system in every single courtroom in the state of Tennessee. Because of our involvement, the legislators just let these bills die in committee,” said Curry. “This has been an amazing legislative year in Tennessee and one I’m proud to have been a part of!”

Why I attended NCRA’s Boot Camp — and you should too!

By Cindy Isaacsen

The first time I went to Boot Camp, I was excited and terrified. I had heard so many things about it – and I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to learn how to advocate for the profession.

When I arrived at Boot Camp, it was everything I could have ever expected and more. I was taken out of my friend zone and my comfort zone, and I was put with a table full of strangers who were also my peers. We all worked harder in those few days’ time than I ever had. I was stressed and exhausted and exhilarated. One might wonder where can you get all these emotions and feelings? Go to Boot Camp, and you’ll understand.

Boot Camp ends with a trip to visit our state representatives on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, NCRA’s Interim Executive Director, and the other NCRA staff members who presented several of the sessions for the training portion that year, had thoroughly prepared us for what might come our way, how to present our agenda, and what to do when we were rushed or forgot what to say. When we got to the Hill, I was terrified. But we had our assignment, and we were as prepped as we could be. We talked to our representatives or their staff members, and we gave our spiel and were well received. I was completely stoked about what I had learned, and I was ready to bring what I learned back to my home state and my association and see what it could do for us.

I went back for a second round of Boot Camp because I felt like, “Well, if I got a lot the first time, what might I get the second time?” I was impressed with how much I remembered, but I was able to really work on my weaknesses and help others in the group feel more confident and excited about the task in front of us. I took my good friend Dani Murray, RMR, CRR, with me this time, and we killed it. We both worked hard in our groups. I was able to be more of a mentor to the newbies in my own group, and it felt good. It really is true when they say that to really reinforce what you’ve learned, you should teach it and share it with others.

If I could tell reporters and leaders one thing, it would be go to Boot Camp! It’s the one leadership opportunity that can change your life — not only in the court reporting profession, but in all aspects of life. You become a better leader, and your confidence soars.

Just as an example, after this training, the state employees, including me, were trying to get a raise as we hadn’t had one in 10 or 15 years. We went to our capitol and we tracked down our local representatives to encourage them to vote for the raise. One of the people we had to talk to was a rather tough cookie. I saw her and asked to talk to her, but she kept walking, so I locked in step with her and I talked to her all the way to the door where I couldn’t go past. I turned around and all the leaders of this group had their mouths wide open, couldn’t believe that I took her on.

If you are ready to really make a difference in your profession, don’t miss this chance to learn how to be a great advocate for yourself and for your profession.

Register at NCRA.org/BootCamp.

Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, is an official from Olathe, Kan., and a member of the NCRA Board of Directors. She can be reached at Cindy.Isaacsen@jocogov.org.

New Legislative Boot Camp Experience inspires attendees to take action

Enlightening, enriching, insightful, and inspiring are just some of the adjectives representatives from 28 state court reporter associations used to describe their experiences at NCRA’s 2018 Legislative Boot Camp held March 11-13 in Reston, Va.

With a lineup of top speakers that addressed issues ranging from how to stop overthinking, why certification is important to state associations, how to support successful grassroots lobbying efforts, and how to implement effective programs at the state level, attendees of the NCRA 2018 Legislative Boot Camp were given access to an impressive learning opportunity. Attendees also participated in mock trials as they prepared to take new skills and insights they learned during the sessions to advocate for the court reporting and captioning professions during visits with lawmakers and their staff members on Capitol Hill.

Carolyn Coronado, RPR, and Keith Johnson, RDR, CRR, CRC, visit Rep. Pete Sessions office

“There was a lot of information shared during this event. It was enlightening, and I have some great ideas to take back to my state association, as well as some really good points I can use when I meet with my legislators,” said Carolyn Coronado, RPR, an official court reporter from Houston, Texas, and first-time boot camp attendee.

“For me personally, I can see how I can use the information I learned to address my judges as well on certain issues. I came here to learn, and now thinking ahead, I may become more involved with NCRA and committee work,” added Coronado, a past board member of the Texas Court Reporters Association.

Shelley Row, speaker, consultant, and author, led an insightful session laced with humor and personal stories in her presentation “Go with Your Gut: Effective Decision-Making in an Overthinking World.” The self-proclaimed recovering overthinker shared with attendees how she used infotuition – the combination of intuition and information – to learn to recognize the signs that made her an overthinker. She shared her cognition-intuition balance model that is based on understanding what constitutes a no-brainer decision versus a knee-jerk decision and how to leave room in our thinking to allow the “Aha!” moments. She also shared how important it is to remove yourself from heated situations before reacting, the positive impact of taking brain breaks, and recognizing body markers.

“Thinking and acting is not enough. You have to think, feel, and act. Taken together, the brain, gut, and the body’s neurological system create embodied intelligence that supports infotuitive decision-making. Understand in advance what triggers launch what reactions in you when faced with making good decisions. Learn ways that you can return to calm, and take brain breaks to allow all parts of the brain to work together to make decisions,” Row told attendees.

“Everything we talked about here are skills. They take practice. You are always practicing; every minute of every day is practice. It is likely that between today and tomorrow you will encounter a triggering event. You can make the decision to do what you’ve always done, or choose to slow it down and think about it differently. Either way is practice. Are you practicing the behavior that serves you best to make decisions from your gut?”

Row left attendees with one final thought: “A good message to take with you is that a lot of people go through life and don’t take a breath or don’t realize what affects them. You need to breathe. As court reporter you need to stop and do that.”

Attorney James Cool presented a session that discussed how to implement effective programs at the state level by understanding the moral philosophy framework for political persuasion. His presentation was focused on the five oral axes as explained in the book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, written by Jonathan Haidt, which explains how moral underlining philosophies drive our decision-making. The five moral axes that trigger our morality he touched on included:

  • Care/harm
  • Fairness/cheating
  • Loyalty/betrayal
  • Authority/ subversion
  • Sanctity/ degradation

Other sessions presented during boot camp that armed attendees with more insight and skills before heading to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers and their staffs on the last day included:

  • “The State of Court Reporting” by NCRA President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Matthew Barusch, NCRA State Government Relations Manager
  • “Grassroots Lobbying” by Jacqueline Sly, former state representative for South Dakota
  • “A Lesson on the Importance of Certification” with John Brandon, interim president of the Connecticut Court Reporters Association
  • “Certification: An Important Issue in the States” presented by Barusch and Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA Senior Director of Certification and Education, about why certification is an important issue for the states.

Rob Jones interviewed by NCRA President Chris Willette as Tricia Rosate, RDR, CRR, transcribes and Joe Donahoe videos

Other highlights of the 2018 boot camp experience included traveling into Washington, D.C., to Capitol Hill via the Metro, lunch in the Dirksen Senate Dining Room, and a special wrap-up reception at the Library of Congress in honor of the Veterans History Project (VHP). The reception also included an interview for the VHP by Willette with retired U.S. Marine Sgt. Rob Jones, a double above-the-knee amputee who has been inspiring fellow veterans with his 31 marathons in 31 days in 31 different cities and bike trip across the United States. Jones also holds a Bronze medal in rowing from the U.S. Paralympics. Planet Depos provided their top-notch videography services for the event and captured the entire interview for the National Court Reporters Foundation.

“I really enjoyed the networking sessions. I learned a lot. I liked the in-depth discussions of critical issues. These conversations are important. My biggest takeaway from Boot Camp is that I see there are people in virtually every state that care deeply about our profession and are willing to work together to address these issues,” said Joshua Edwards, RDR, CRR, a captioner from New York, N.Y., and president-elect of the New York State Court Reporters Association.

“You can have a bigger impact working together than alone in many areas. Court reporting and captioning as a field depends on the passion of our members,” he added.


Make an impact in Washington, D.C., at the NCRA Legislative Boot Camp

NCRA members meet with their elected officials on Capitol Hill, including Meredith Bonn and her colleagues from New York, shown top-right with Rep. Kathleen Rice

“The NCRA Legislative Boot Camp was a tremendous training opportunity,” said Rachel Waterhouse-Schwalm, RPR, a freelancer and owner of Westphal Reporting, in Dubuque, Iowa. Waterhouse-Schwalm attended the 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp and is currently the president-elect of the Iowa Court Reporters Association. “I continue to use the skills we received training on to this day, and they will always be of value,” she said.

The 2018 event has two days of sessions on decision-making, grassroots lobbying, certification legislation, and more. But what makes this event unique is the location: our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

While many of the sessions at Boot Camp are new, attendees will still have the opportunity to take the lessons they’ve learned and practice their new skills in mock meetings. In these mock meetings, attendees will test their strategies for speaking with legislators, and they will receive feedback to tweak their messaging and delivery.

“The mock hearings prepared me by allowing me to get my nerves out by practicing,” said Meredith Bonn, RPR, an official in Webster, N.Y. Bonn also attended the 2016 event and is currently an NCRA Director after having served on the New York State Court Reporters Association board. “I must say having not an ordinary practice session, but a tension-filled, lifelike situation was eye-opening and helpful.”

Rachel Waterhouse-Schwalm, left, and Kara Holland, center, meet with Capitol Hill staffers

On the final day of the event, attendees will get the full D.C. experience, traveling by Metro to Capitol Hill and spending the day meeting face-to-face with their elected officials and staff and talking to them about the important issues that affect court reporting and captioning today.

“Being there in awe of all its history is amazing,” said Bonn. “To have the ear and attention of our legislators was appreciated. To communicate a clear, concise, and useful message was empowering.”

“Kara, our current Iowa Court Reporters Association president, had a meeting with the governor last week to do a press event for the signing of the proclamation for Court Reporting & Captioning Week,” said Waterhouse-Schwalm, who attended with Kara Holland, RPR.  “Afterward she and our lobbyist, Bill Wimmer, went to meet at the capitol with state representatives. She mentioned how Boot Camp training really kicked in and made her much more comfortable in those meetings and helped her shape her arguments and talking points.”

After a full day of D.C. action, attendees will wrap up their experience with a reception in the beautiful Library of Congress honoring the popular Veterans History Project (VHP). Many NCRA members have participated in the VHP, and this reception will help them have a deeper understanding of the value of this project and reporters’ and captioners’ participation in it. The reception will also allow attendees to compare notes and share wins from the day.

“The Boot Camp was a challenging experience that has value beyond measure,” added Waterhouse-Schwalm. “Those training tools have been used both in board work and in many other ways. It gives you great confidence in advocating for your profession and your fellow reporters.”

Register for the 2018 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp at NCRA.org/BootCamp by Feb. 23.

Learn to Lead with Your Gut at 2018 Boot Camp

Spaces are filling fast for the new 2018 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp experience as the Feb. 19 registration deadline nears. The event is March 11-13.

Knowledge is power is the theme for this year’s event. Backed by a schedule that promises forward-thinking and hands-on immersive sessions, the new Boot Camp promises a new experience for attendees as they learn the latest status in legislative issues affecting the court reporting and captioning professions, develop leadership and advocacy skills, and prepare for real Capitol Hill action. This year’s program includes a number of visionary guest speakers who will share their insights into what makes successful leaders and how to advocate for the profession at the state and federal levels.

One of those visionary guests is Shelley Row, speaker, consultant, and author, who will lead the session “Go with Your Gut: Effective Decision-Making in an Overthinking World.” The goal of the session is to provide participants with a high-content program that gives them skills to use immediately in their work and with legislative staff as well as a positive frame of mind as they leave the event.

Shelley Row, leadership consultant and author

Named by Inc. magazine as one of the top 100 leadership speakers, Row is an engineer and former government and association executive. Her leadership work focuses on developing insightful leaders who know that data alone is not enough. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, HuffPost Business, and Smartblog on Leadership. Row has studied with the NeuroLeadership Institute, is certified with the International Coach Federation and Business DNA Behavior, and is the incoming president of the National Speakers Association’s Washington, D.C., chapter. She is also the author of four books, including Think Less, Live More: Lessons from a Recovering Over-Thinker.

Row will address the following questions in her session: When seeking decisions from staff, colleagues, bosses, or legislators, do you ever experience churning conversations that go around and around and never reach a decision? Are some situations lightning rods that cause rational conversation to flee?

According to Row, in a complex world, we can get mired in analysis-paralysis. Other times, tension and reactivity destroy rational discussion. Attendees at Row’s session will learn:

  • the neuroscience behind effective decisions that balance hardline analytics with gut feel
  • how to limit and stop overthinking by resolving the forces that freeze decision-making
  • how to discover proven techniques to slow a quick reaction before responding and regretting it
  • how to enable “aha!” moments when they are needed most

Also on the schedule is:

  • The State of Court Reporting with NCRA President Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, and Matthew Barusch, NCRA State Government Relations Manager
  • Implementing Effective Programs in Your State with James Cool, attorney at law
  • Grassroots Lobbying with Jacqueline Sly, former state representative for South Dakota
  • A Lesson on the Importance of Certification with John Brandon, interim president of the Connecticut Court Reporters Association

Attendees will also hear from Marcia Ferranto, NCRA Executive Director and CEO as well as Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA Senior Director of Certification and Education, who will discuss why certification is an important issue for the states. Learn more about the Boot Camp speakers and view the agenda at NCRA.org/BootCamp.

There will also be mock meetings for attendees to participate in as they prepare for their visits to Capitol Hill on the final day to meet with their respective legislators and key staff members to discuss the important issues that have an impact on the profession.

As part of the Boot Camp experience, attendees will travel to the Hill by Metro, enjoy lunch in the Dirksen Senate Dining Room, and celebrate at a special reception at the Library of Congress in honor of the Veterans History Project.

For more information about NCRA’s exciting new Legislative Boot Camp experience, contact NCRA Manager of State Government Relations Matthew Barusch. The room block is at the Hyatt Regency Reston in Reston, Va., and registrants will receive a confirmation email with a link to book their hotel using the NCRA rate. Registration closes Feb. 19!

Read more about the 2018 Boot Camp experience on TheJCR.com: NCRA ramps up 2018 Legislative Boot Camp with cutting-edge content.

NCRA ramps up 2018 Legislative Boot Camp with cutting-edge content

Knowledge is power is what every attendee at the 2018 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp can expect to take away from this year’s event, being held March 11-13. Registration is now open.

The new Boot Camp experience is packed full of hands-on and immersive sessions designed to bring attendees up to speed on the latest status in legislative issues affecting the court reporting and captioning professions, develop leadership and advocacy skills, and prepare for real Capitol Hill action. This year’s program includes visionary guest speakers who will share their insights into what makes successful leaders and how to advocate for the profession at the state and federal levels.

Attendees will get a Politics 101 overview and hear firsthand from NCRA Senior Director of Education and Certification Cynthia Bruce Andrews why certification at the state level is so important. NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRC, CRR, Wausau, Wis., will also deliver an update on the state of the court reporting and captioning professions.

Jacqueline Sly, former state representative in the South Dakota House of Representatives, and Shelley Row, leadership consultant and author

Jacqueline Sly, former state representative in the South Dakota House of Representatives, will present on successful grassroots lobbying, including strategies for leading a full-scale grassroots campaign to ensure maximum impact.

Special guest Shelley Row, leadership consultant and author, will lead a session on effective decision-making. Attendees will learn how to limit overthinking by resolving the forces that freeze decision-making, discover proven techniques to slow a quick reaction before responding and regretting it, and enable “aha” moments when they are needed most.

Other sessions will cover how to implement effective legislative programs at the state level. Attendees will also participate in mock meetings and hearings to learn how to make effective arguments and pitches to lawmakers.

On the last day, attendees will travel by Metro to Capitol Hill to meet in person with their representatives and senators. In addition to lunch in the Dirksen Senate Dining Room, Boot Camp Hill Day may also include a special Veterans History Project event and closing reception at the Library of Congress.

For more information about NCRA’s exciting new Legislative Boot Camp experience, contact NCRA Manager of State Government Relations Matthew R. Barusch. The room block is at the Hyatt Regency Reston in Reston, Va. Registration closes Feb. 19!

Is the NCRA Legislative Boot Camp for me too? You bet!

You’ve heard about the great things that the NCRA Legislative Boot Camp has done for the profession. You’ve read the articles, seen the pictures, and heard the testimonials from your fellow court reporters and captioners on the incredible experience that Boot Camp has on attendees’ lives. But have you ever wondered: Is it only for state leaders?

The answer is no for one simple reason: It is everyone’s job to protect the profession and each professional’s own ability to do his or her job. If you don’t commit to saving your job, who will? Boot Camp teaches everyone the issues affecting the profession at a national level and how to affect change at the state and local levels. People who have attended Boot Camp have used their new skills to advocate for things outside the court reporting profession, such as cancer funding, appropriations for local city needs, and more. Boot Camp has even so inspired former attendees to make changes in their community that they have run for political office. Boot Camp alumni have become city council members, aldermen, the assistant mayor, and even a state representative!

What happens at Boot Camp? NCRA’s Government Relations team begins by training attendees on the basics of advocacy, including politics 101, grassroots lobbying, understanding the issues affecting reporters, and dealing with the press. Then attendees learn about a real-life scenario that is affecting court reporters. The attendees break into teams. The teams compete to come up with the best strategies and messages to influence mock senators in mock meetings. After their meetings, the teams testify in front of a mock Senate panel to try to influence a committee on a crucial issue.

Testifying is challenging and forces attendees to think on their feet. Attendees take their charge very seriously and but also have fun competing to be crowned top team at Boot Camp for that year. Reporters can be very competitive!

After two days of training, the attendees get a much-needed break to celebrate their efforts and bond with their fellow reporters. They also prepare for the next day, during which they will take all their skills and implement them for real. On Hill Day, attendees meet with their senators and Congressional representatives and pitch an issue critical to the profession to their national representatives and their staffs. The energy and excitement is palpable as the attendees arrive on Capitol Hill. The attendees meet with Hill staff all day, and finally their Boot Camp experience winds down with a great debrief at a Capitol Hill hotspot.

Hundreds of reporters have gone through Boot Camp and become steadfast advocates for the profession. If you are interested in attending this life-changing event, please register at NCRA.org/BootCamp or contact NCRA Government Relations Manager Matthew Barusch with any additional questions. See how you can make a difference!

Local paper reports NCRA member’s involvement in 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp

On April 5, the Traverse City [Mich.] Record Eagle posted a press release issued by NCRA announcing that Jessica L. Jaynes, RPR, an official court reporter from Traverse City and president-elect of the Michigan Association of Professional Court Reporters, attended the 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp.

Read more.

The other side of the Veterans History Project: What happens to my transcripts?

VHP Photo_Jaynes

Jessica L. Jaynes poses in front of the Veterans History Project sign

By Jessica L. Jaynes

While attending the 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp, I decided to make the most of my downtime between meetings on Capitol Hill, so I visited the Library of Congress Veterans History Project Center. I wanted to see where the veterans’ stories I had transcribed in the past were kept and who uses them and for what purpose. My goal was to be able to take that information back to my association, the Michigan Association of Professional Court Reporters, to garner support for this year’s Veterans History Project (VHP).

I started my mission at the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building, only to discover that the Veterans History Project Center is located in the American Folklife Center over in the Madison Building. I was directed down staircases and underground tunnels to make my way there. I finally made it to my destination where I met Christy Chason, VHP representative. Christy greeted me with a smile and asked what she could do for me.

I explained why I was in Washington, D.C., and I was hoping to be able to see the transcripts that I had sent in. Christy lit up, telling me how they love NCRA and the court reporters who have worked so hard transcribing the oral histories and what an important a role we play in the process. She apologized, saying that the transcripts are kept at an off-site location and that I wouldn’t be able to see them on that day, but that I was welcome to stay and take a look around.

The first picture I came across was that of Rep. Ron Kind (WI). Christy explained to me that Rep. Kind authored the original Veterans’ Oral History Project legislation after attending a family function with his father and uncle, both of whom served in the U. S. military, and wanting to document their experiences for future generations. He got a video camera and began recording their stories. I also found out that Rep. Kind’s wife is a court reporter.

The most interesting artifact I came across was a letter written home from a soldier to his beloved that was on government-issued toilet paper. The original is in a preservation environment, but there is an exact replica on the wall, along with a transcription next to it for easy reading. We proceeded on, looking at all the different photos and letters, and Christy shared the stories that went along with each of them. I was told that the transcripts we prepare are very important, as researchers, scholars, students, members of Congress, authors, and filmmakers access them on a daily basis. She was so happy that I had come to visit that she gave me a Veterans History Project pin that I proudly wore the rest of the day on my sweater to all of my meetings. I am currently awaiting a package of VHP swag from Christy to distribute at our next VHP Day coming up in November.

I would encourage all of my colleagues to transcribe at least one pre-recorded veteran interview from NCRA or to participate in your local VHP day this year. The experience is incredibly rewarding, and it means so much to our veterans to have their experiences shared. To learn more about how you can become involved with this project, contact April Weiner, NCRF Foundation Assistant, at 703-584-9052 or aweiner@ncra.org. You can also access the Veterans History Project online at loc.gov/vets. Next time you are in the area, stop by and see Christy and her colleagues. They would love to meet you.

Jessica L. Jaynes, RPR, is president-elect of the Michigan Association of Professional Court Reporters. She can be reached at jjaynes.steno@gmail.com.

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF), the Association’s philanthropic arm, partnered with the Library of Congress more than 10 years ago to help collect transcripts for the Veterans History Project program through its Oral Histories Program. Transcripts provided to the Library of Congress are preserved for future use as part of the program. To date, NCRF has submitted 3,927 histories to the Library of Congress Veterans History Project and has a goal to submit just 73 more by Memorial Day for a total of 4,000. NCRA members earn 0.25 PDC for each transcript they complete, up to 1.0 PDC per education cycle. Please visit NCRA.org/Vets for more information on how to get involved.

State affiliates gear up for 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp

LBC_logo_1color_newState affiliates from across the country are making plans to participate in the 2016 NCRA Legislative Boot Camp being held March 20-22 at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Va. The event is sponsored by NCRA’s government relations department.

The schedule for this year’s event will include sessions that cover an introduction to politics, grassroots lobbying, effectively communicating with the press, understanding NCRA’s 2016 federal initiatives, building lasting relationships, and what to expect when participants visit Capitol Hill. Several sessions will also include mock hearings and role-playing exercises. Attendees will also learn how to promote the profession to external audiences and consumer groups and how to testify before legislators.

Lead presenters will include Adam Finkel, NCRA’s Director of Government Affairs, and Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, from Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies.

The two-day training culminates with a trip to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., where attendees will have the opportunity to meet with their respective legislators and their professional staff members, and gain experience in lobbying. Attendees will also have the opportunity to attend an event with one of NCRA’s legislative supporters.

During visits with lawmakers, Boot Camp attendees will be encouraged to urge their representatives to reauthorize the Training for Realtime Writers grants under the Higher Education Act passed by Congress in 2009. The Act created a competitive grant program to train realtime writers to provide both captioned information and communication access for the 30 million Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing. Programs established with past grants also aided working reporters in learning and polishing realtime skills.

NCRA member Rachel Erickson, RPR, CRC, a CART captioner from Minneapolis, Minn., said this year’s Boot Camp will be the first she has ever attended. She is looking forward to learning about issues that affect the court reporting and captioning professions.

“I would like to be well versed with the legislative and political information I need as well as role-playing to help better equip me to promote and advocate our profession effectively and intelligently,” added Erickson, who is preparing to become president of the Minnesota Association of Verbatim Reporters and Captioners.

“This will be my first time attending Legislative Boot Camp, and I am looking forward to learning additional tools I can use to promote our legislative interests and share the information with other reporters and students with common passions and interests,” said Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, who serves on NCRA’s Board of Directors.

“Meeting with legislators, especially from my home state, will definitely be highlight,” added Sati, who is also a court reporting educator and an independent captioner from Dayton, Minn.

Online registration is now open for the 2016 Legislative Boot Camp at NCRA.org/bootcamp. The cost is $175 per attendee. For more information, contact Adam Finkel, NCRA Director of Government Relations, at afinkel@ncra.org.

“The NCRA Legislative Boot Camp is one of the most important benefits of membership in the Association because it provides training in the skills needed to successfully advocate and participate in the legislative and regulatory processes when issues in either of those arenas arise that could hinder or help the future of the court reporting and captioning professions,” said NCRA President Stephen A. Zinone, RPR, an official court reporter from Pittsford, N.Y.

“If you are in the business of making the record and preserving history or providing valuable captioning services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, then you are in the business of protecting our profession,” said Zinone.