Captions play a crucial function in the daily lives of millions

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyOn Dec. 7, TVTechnology.com posted an article by P. Kevin Kilroy, CEO of VITAC, discussing why the best approach to captioning remains rooted in the human experience of the spoken word.

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Aptus court reporting adds new director of business development in the Los Angeles office

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAptus Court Reporting, San Diego, Calif., announced in a press release issued Dec. 13 that Mary Gagne Caceres has joined the firm as director of business management in its Los Angeles office.

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Local groups work to end court reporter shortage and speed up Tulsa County case flow

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyFOX 23 News in Tulsa, Okla., aired a story on Dec. 12 about local groups working to end the court reporter shortage in an effort to speed up Tulsa County case flow. NCRA member Allison Hall, RMR, CRR, an official court reporter for 18 years, is interviewed in the story.

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Captioning offers a new opportunity to connect with fans and grow the audience

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Sports Video Group posted an interview on Dec. 8 with VITAC’s Chief Marketing Officer John Capobianco, who explained the benefits of captioning, which is mandated by federal regulations.

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Longtime court reporter looks back on time spent in historical building

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Tulsa Business & Legal News posted an article on Dec. 5 that features former NCRA member Glenn Dorrough, a retired U.S. District Court Northern District of Oklahoma court reporter, reflecting on a 30-year career.

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The GOP tax plan: What’s in it, and how does it affect me?

By Matt Barusch and Dave Wenhold

For the first time in decades, Congress appears to be on the verge of comprehensively reforming the U.S. tax system. In the past 31 years, Congress (regardless of the party in power) has tinkered with and tweaked small components of the overall tax code but has failed to achieve comprehensive reform.

For the last few weeks, the Republican-led Congress’ focus has been on simplifying the tax code and cutting taxes with the intent to spur economic growth. The House of Representatives and the Senate have each passed their own version of tax reform packages, dubbed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The two bills will now meet in conference committee to reconcile their differences and produce a final product to send to President Trump’s desk.

But what is in those bills? What is most likely to be included in the final product? How will this affect me and how much will I pay in taxes? NCRA’s Government Relations Department has been hard at work analyzing the different tax bills, and here is a breakdown of what is in these bills.

Let’s start with the commonalities: provisions included in both the House and Senate bills. Both bills lower individual income tax rates and reduce the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent. These changes are intended to allow corporations to re-invest in their business infrastructures and hire more workers. Both bills also double the current estate tax exemption for individuals to $11 million, which the House bill repeals in 2024 and the Senate bill makes permanent.

With the intent of simplifying the tax code, the House bill eliminates most tax deductions in favor of doubling the standard deduction. The House bill also collapses the current seven-bracket classification system to four and eliminates many itemized deductions. State and local taxes (as well as medical, business, and classroom expenses) will no longer be deductible. These deductions were eliminated in favor of the higher standard deduction.

The Senate bill maintains the current seven individual brackets but lowers the effective rates and changes the income levels to which they apply. This changes after 2025, when the bracket reverts to current law. You can see how the tax brackets break down for single and joint filers in both bills here. The Senate bill also gets rid of the individual mandate penalty for purchasing health insurance created by the Affordable Care Act, one of the main reasons for tax reform in the Republicans’ minds.

There is also a provision in both the House and Senate bills that might eliminate the deductibility of association membership dues as a business expense, but we are working to make sure Congress clarifies their intent. According to Jim Clarke, ASAE’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy, “vague language in a provision eliminating deductions for entertainment expenses could, possibly as an unintended consequence, be interpreted to apply to association membership dues.”

The House bill increases the federal deficit by $1.08 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the Tax Foundation.

While there are a lot of moving parts in these bills, nothing is set in stone, and NCRA and our lobbying team are monitoring these events and speaking with our friends on Capitol Hill. You are encouraged to do the same! It is important for your elected officials to hear from you on your opinions. Contact them to let them know how this bill affects you and your family. For more information on how to reach out to your elected officials, contact NCRA’s Government Relations Department at GovRelations@ncra.org.

Matt Barusch is NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations. He can be reached at mbarusch@ncra.org. Dave Wenhold, CAE, PLC, is NCRA’s legislative counsel.

Elk County salary board creates court reporter position

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyElk County has officially created a county court reporter position, the first since the early 1980s, according to an article posted Dec.7 by The Courier Express, a newspaper based in DuBois, Pa. The position will be shared with Cameron County.

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Changes to Retired Status go into effect Jan. 1

During the NCRA Business Meeting, NCRA members voted to approve changes to the membership categories for retired members. The changes go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.

NCRA’s past membership structure included a membership category for Retired Lifetime Member, which allowed those who had been members for 30 consecutive years and who no longer practice as verbatim stenographic reporters to become Retired Lifetime Members and no longer pay dues. This membership category has been growing every year and increasing faster than the Association is gaining new members. The financial impact for the Association is unsustainable.

To come up with alternatives, the Board of Directors formed a Retired Member Task Force to evaluate the current structure and make recommendations. The Task Force recommended two changes to the current category: The first is to clarify the definition of a retired member within the Bylaws, and the second is to sunset the current Retired Lifetime Member category and replace it with a fee-based membership.

The changes in Retired Member status will not affect current Retired Lifetime Members. NCRA will continue to honor the agreement with Retired Lifetime Members and not require them to pay dues.

Effective Jan. 1, to claim retired status, members must be truly retired and no longer derive any income from the profession. In addition, Retired Members will pay dues at half the rate of Participating or Registered Members. This is a best and current practice among many associations. This will shore up some of the financial losses sustained from covering free memberships for a large group of members for an extended period of time.

Jim Woitalla’s legacy continues with student scholarships

By Jennifer Sati

As we all cherish our memories of Jim Woitalla and relish every single moment we spent with him, his legacy continues through his scholarships for judicial reporting students at Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn.

Callie Sajdera, Anoka Tech student, and Peter Gravett, Anoka Tech Foundation director

Three $1,000 scholarships were awarded this past summer semester to students. All three of the recipients had Jim as their technology instructor, which made the award all the more special. The recipients were Jennifer Brama, who has since graduated; Callie Sajdera, a 200 wpm student; and Jamie Ward, a 180 wpm student.

The scholarships were presented on Oct. 5 at the Anoka Technical College fall scholarship dinner and ceremony. It was a privilege and blessing to have Jim’s mother and two of his sisters attend the scholarship ceremony and be a part of awarding the very first Woitalla scholarships. Callie Sajdera, the student speaker at the foundation ceremony, shared heartfelt stories of Jim as her instructor.

The judicial reporting program would like to thank everyone who has generously donated toward Jim Woitalla’s scholarship fund. Please know that the students are very appreciative of the thoughtfulness of others and that the money has made a difference in their education. We at Anoka Tech will keep Jim’s passion for this amazing profession thriving by continuing to graduate students who share his same passion and enthusiasm for technology and excellence.

Court reporting students Callie Sajdera (far left) and Jamie Ward (far right) pose with members of Jim Woitalla’s family

Since the inception of the scholarship fund, a total of $8,500 has been donated. We are hopeful we can keep Jim’s scholarship fund active with continued donations and use the funds to award two $1,000 scholarships annually. The family discerningly suggested that more funds be given out this first year or two so that students who learned from Jim could receive the most benefit.

Jim was loved and respected by countless reporters and captioners around the country, and it is a great privilege to be able to continue to share his legacy with students, our future! Learn more about how to get involved with the Anoka Tech Foundation and the “Judicial Reporting Program/Woitalla Scholarship Fund.”

Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CRC, CRI, is a captioner and an instructor at Anoka Tech. She is also on NCRA’s Board of Directors. She can be reached at jsati@anokatech.edu.

Recognize a peer’s dedication with a 2018 Fellows nomination

Members of the 2017 class of Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters was recognized at the 2017 Convention & Expo. Nominations for 2018 Fellows are due Dec. 31.

NCRA’s Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters (CAPR) is seeking nominations for its Fellows of the Academy of Professional Reporters (FAPR). The deadline to nominate a candidate is Dec. 31.

Membership in the Academy symbolizes excellence among NCRA members. The designation of FAPR represents an individual’s dedication to the court reporting and captioning professions and expresses the highest level of professional ethics.

“When I received the FAPR, it was a complete surprise, but the icing on the cake was that my wife, Mary, was also made a Fellow at the same time. It caused us to reflect on our contribution to the profession and, more than that, the realization that our peers recognized our contribution as well,” said Kevin Daniel, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, who was inducted into the Academy in 2012.

“NCRA members should view the nomination process as an opportunity to recognize some overachieving, non-Board members who have contributed to the profession in many different ways, from serving on committees to promoting court reporting and captioning in mainstream and social media,” added Daniel, a freelance court reporter from Las Vegas, Nev.

To be nominated for membership in the Academy, candidates must be a Registered Member of NCRA with at least 10 years of professional experience and have attained distinction as measured by performance in at least three of the five performance categories. This performance could include publication of important papers, creative contributions, service on committees or boards, teaching, and more.

“By bestowing the FAPR on a colleague, you not only recognize the past contributions of your fellow member, but you also often inspire them to continue and even redouble their commitment to the profession,” Daniel added.

To nominate an individual, view the full criteria and download a nomination form at NCRA.org/Fellows. For more information, contact Cynthia Bruce Andrews at candrews@ncra.org.