State of the states: A legislative update

By Matthew Barusch

Activity in state legislatures is in full swing for the year, and January was a very busy month for court reporting legislation. Our state associations have begun this year by being very active advocates for the court reporting profession, and we applaud our state leaders’ efforts to protect and support court reporters nationwide. As you well know, court reporters are affected by a wide variety of issues

One of the most pressing issues facing the court reporting profession is certification and licensure. While 26 states have some form of mandatory certification and licensure for court reporters, NCRA’s home state of Virginia does not, and we worked to assist Virginia Court Reporters Association in their efforts to institute these requirements. Unfortunately the bill, SB 1441, did not pass out of committee and will no longer be considered this year. The state of Utah also had a bill introduced that deals with this issue. HB 278 repeals the original Certified Court Reporters Licensing Act and modifies requirements for licensure to requirements for an NCRA or NVRA certification. Introduced Feb. 5, this bill has not yet been heard in committee. Some states are also exploring other avenues to establishing certification and licensure recognition. The state of Texas’ Judicial Branch Certification Commission is currently considering proposals made by Texas Court Reporters Association and Texas Deposition Reporters Association on how to make it easier for reporters to work in the state.

Another important issue gaining traction and severely affecting the court reporting profession is the issue of independent contractor classification. Last year, the California Supreme Court established a new “ABC test” for determining independent contractor classification in the Dynamex case. This test is now receiving debate in the nearby state of Washington, which has introduced HB 1515 to change the definition of independent contractor to include this test. This legislation, while meant to “level the playing field for employers who pay for workers’ living wages and benefits, and ensure that more workers have access to the wage and social insurance protections,” could have unintended consequences for freelance reporters’ ability to work in the state, which is why NCRA is working with the Washington Court Reporters Association to oppose it. The legislation has been heard multiple times in committee, but as of Feb. 6 has not been voted on for approval.

Electronic recording continues to be a challenge that court reporters deal with at the state level. The state of Minnesota is considering legislation (SF 21) that would create a task force to evaluate the expanded use of electronic recording in court proceedings. Finally, some state legislatures are considering salary increases for official court reporters. Both Oklahoma and West Virginia have bills introduced that would provide annual salary increases for officials.

NCRA is proud of the members, state leaders, and affiliated associations that are dedicating their time and effort to advance profession-friendly legislation in the states. We remain dedicated to supporting and assisting our state affiliates in their advocacy efforts, as we work together toward our common goal of protecting the court reporting profession and ensuring its longevity for generations to come. Remember, YOU are our best and most important advocate. Without members like you reaching out to elected officials, dedicating your time to volunteering for your state association, and remaining engaged with NCRA and your state, the profession could not survive. But together, we can overcome any challenge we face.

For more information on state legislation and NCRA’s advocacy efforts, contact Director of State Government Relations Matthew Barusch at mbarusch@ncra.org.

Washington residents sue theater chains over closed captioning

Residents from Edmonds and Bellevue, Wash., who are hard of hearing are part of a class-action lawsuit against three major movie theater chains that JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR Weeklydo not offer closed captioning for their programming, according to an article posted Jan. 10 by Patch.com.

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Court reporting firm announces expansion into Pacific Northwest

JCR logoAptus Court Reporting, based in San Diego, Calif., announced in a press release issued April 12 that the company has opened an office in downtown Seattle, Wash.

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Green River Community College students participate in mock depositions

JCR logoIn January, Lori Rapozo, RPR, CRI, an instructor at Green River Community College in Auburn, Wash., brought several court reporting students to lead mock depositions during the Essential Lawyering Skills course at the Seattle University Law School. The mock depositions included swearing in the deponent and handling exhibits.

Rapozo presented the Legal Education seminar Making the Record to the law students using the booklet provided by the National Court Reporters Foundation.

NCRA member Ron Cook, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer in Seattle, also provided a realtime demonstration for the law students.

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NCRA members among reporters who retire after combined 98 years

jcr-publications_high-resOn Jan. 2, tri-cityherald.com posted an article about the retirement of NCRA members Lisa Lang, RMR, CRR, and John McLaughlin, both official court reporters from Pasco and Kenewick, Wash., respectively, and one of their colleagues. Together, the three reporters represented nearly 100 years of experience.

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Everett adds closed captioning to council meetings

jcr-publications_high-resMyEverettNews.com, Everett, Wash., posted an article Nov. 30 announcing that the city’s council and planning commission has added closed captioning to their broadcasts on a local government access channel. The realtime closed-captioning is being provided by a remote captioner.

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Seattle court reporting firm celebrates online reputation

jcr-publications_high-resNaegeli Deposition and Trial, a court reporting firm headquartered in Portland, Ore., announced in a Nov. 15 press release that the company has received a number of high reviews on Google Plus for its Seattle location.

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Realtime skills of NCRA member showcased

An article posted May 11 by GraysHarborTalk, Montesano, Wash., features an interview with NCRA member Connie Church, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance reporter. She provides realtime services for people who are deaf and hard of hearing in her community in addition to reporting depositions and court proceedings.

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2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week gains traction in media coverage

Court Reporting & Captioning Week has put a number of NCRA members in the media spotlight, sharing information with viewers and readers about the vast number of opportunities available in the field.

Kicking off the week, Christine Phipps, RPR, owner of Phipps Reporting in West Palm Beach, Fla., was featured in a story aired by CBS affiliate channel 12, while NCRA Past President Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, owner of The Varallo Group in Worcester, Mass., joined NCRA member Kathy Silva, RPR, CRR, a freelancer from Andover, Mass., in a story that aired on Mass Appeal.

Appearing in print on behalf of NCRA and the court reporting and captioning professions were NCRA members Donna Cascio, RDR, CMRS, an official court reporter from Somerset, Pa., who was interviewed by the Somerset Daily American, and Melanie Oldham, an official court reporter from Athens, Texas, who was interviewed by the Athens Daily Review. Additional coverage is expected to be generated throughout the week.

NCRA President Steve Zinone, RPR, an official court reporter from Pittsfield, N.Y., joined Tonya Kaiser, RPR, CMRS, a freelance reporter from Fort Wayne and president of the Indiana Court Reporters Association; Susan Gee, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Cincinnati and president-elect of the Ohio Court Reporters Association; and Kathy McHugh, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Philadelphia and president of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association in a panel discussion at the College of Court Reporting, in Hobart, Ind., on Feb. 15. The discussion, which took place online via the college’s Blackboard Collaborate, was hosted by CCR President Jeff Moody. More than 30 participants joined the discussion to hear what the panelists had to say about the greatest challenges they faced in court reporting school and how they overcame them, as well as how they were motivated to become leaders within their associations, the benefits of membership at the state and local levels, and the importance of certification. The hour-long session was recorded and can be heard here.

On Feb. 17, Zinone will visit Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, where he will address students and faculty at the court reporting program. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at 2:30 p.m. ET which can be accessed via the college’s Smart TV channel online.

Official proclamations recognizing 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week from state and local lawmakers continue to be reported. To date, the following states have reported official proclamations: California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. Local proclamations have also been issued in Miami-Date County, Fla.; Johnson County, Kan.; Louisville, Ky.; Eugene, Ore.; and San Antonio, Texas.

Below are some of the latest activities happening during the week around the nation:

  • The New York State Court Reporters Association will host a variety of events during the week including meet and greets throughout the state.
  • Members of the Texas Court Reporters Association are will host a number of Veterans History Project events throughout the state.
  • The Hawaii Court Reporters and Captioners Association has encouraged members to display the official 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week logo on their social media sites, hang posters at courthouses showcasing the event, and reach out to state and local lawmakers to remind them of the week.
  • Members of the Oregon Court Reporters Association will participate in a number of meetings with lawmakers and advocacy groups to bring awareness to the court reporting and captioning professions.

For a complete list of activities happening to mark the 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, visit NCRA.org/Awareness. For more information, visit NCRA.org. Career information about the court reporting profession — one of the leading career options that do not require a traditional four-year degree — can be found at crTakeNote.com.

 








2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week kicks off Feb. 14

CRCW_Week-Map_final

Fifteen states have reported Court Reporting & Captioning Week activities so far. NCRA President Steve Zinone is aiming for activities in all 50 states by the end of the celebratory week.

Official proclamations have already been issued in seven states and several municipalities recognizing the 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, which kicks off Feb. 14 and runs through Feb. 20. Court Reporting & Captioning Week highlights the contributions of stenographic court reporters and captioners to society and showcases the growing number of career opportunities in the court reporting and captioning fields.

Proclamations by state governors have been issued in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, and Washington, as well as by local leaders in Johnson County, Kan., Louisville, Ky., and Miami-Date County, Fla. In addition, a growing number of NCRA members and representatives from state affiliates and court reporting schools are sharing information on how they plan to mark the weeklong event sponsored by NCRA.

Below are some of the latest activities happening during the week around the nation:

  • NCRA will donate $20 to the National Court Reporters Foundation for every new member who joins between Feb. 14 and Feb. 20.
  • NCRA President Steve Zinone, RPR, an official court reporter from Pittsfield, N.Y., will join Tonya Kaiser, president of the Indiana Court Reporters Association; Susan Gee, president-elect of the Ohio Court Reporters Association; and Kathy McHugh, president of the Pennsylvania Court Reporters Association, in a panel discussion hosted by the College of Court Reporting, Hobart, Ind., on Feb. 15. The discussion will take place online via the college’s Blackboard Collaborate and will be hosted by Jeff Moody, president of the College of Court Reporting. Panelists will share information about their careers as court reporters, the challenges they faced in court reporting schools, what motivates them to serve as leaders, why association membership is important to students and working professionals, and more. Participation is open to anyone. For more information, contact Natalie Kijurna at kijurna@ccr.edu or 866-294-3974, ext. 229.
  • Members of the Kansas Court Reporters Association will host a legislative reception at the Capitol in Topeka on Feb. 15, where they will provide a realtime demonstration. On Feb. 17, KCLive on television station KSHB will air a piece on the court reporting and captioning profession featuring KCRA President Cindy Isaacsen, RPR, an official reporter from Olathe, Kan. On Feb. 18, KCRA members will host a breakfast for the members of the board of Johnson County supervisors that will include displays of antique machines. Signs celebrating Court Reporting & Captioning Week will also be displayed on the lawn of the courthouse where the breakfast is being held. Wrapping up the week, KCRA members will host a luncheon for court reporting students with whom they’ve been having weekly study groups.

Court reporters, broadcast and CART captioners, and court reporting schools around the country will participate in the weeklong event by hosting an array of activities such as visits to high schools to showcase the profession, open houses, Veterans History Project interviews, media outreach, and more. NCRA members, state associations, and schools are urged to share with the Association updates about how they plan to celebrate 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week by emailing aroketenetz@ncra.org. Other activities for celebrating the week include sponsoring a court reporting student’s NCRA membership or 2016 Convention & Expo registration fee, mentoring a student, or supporting one of NCRF’s programs by making a contribution.

Looking for ways to participate? Visit NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week awareness page for an array of resources tailored for members, state associations, and court reporting schools. Resources include press release templates, sample proclamations, talking points, posters, presentations, links to the Take Note campaign materials, and more.

NCRA has also added a new power point presentation called Careers in Court Reporting to its Court Reporting & Captioning Week resource center. The presentation, which is located under the ideas and additional resources heading on the members, states, and schools section, can be customized by the user. It encourages audience members to learn more about the court reporting and captioning professions by downloading several articles showcasing careers in these fields. The page that features these articles will also capture contact information from those who access it and provide NCRA with potential leads for new members and students.

For a complete list of activities happening to mark the 2016 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, visit NCRA.org/Awareness.

For more information, visit NCRA.org. Career information about the court reporting profession — one of the leading career options that do not require a traditional four-year degree — can be found at crTakeNote.com.