NCRA welcomes Erik Robert Olson to government relations team

NCRA is pleased to announce that Erik Robert Olson, a principal with Venn Strategies, Washington, D.C., has joined the Association as legislative consultant. Olson’s experience includes 14 years of service as chief of staff and in a variety of policy and campaign roles for U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (Wis.), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and former chair of the moderate pro-business House New Democrat Coalition.

Olson will work directly with NCRA CEO and Executive Director Marcia Ferranto on developing a strong legislative strategy for future advancement of advocacy efforts in the federal arena. Olson holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. He brings years of expertise in the areas of tax, trade, and health care to the clients of Venn Strategies.

“We are fortunate to have Erik joining our government relations team and representing our interests at the federal level. For the last several weeks, the Board has worked diligently to maintain the Association’s commitment to advocating and protecting our profession. With Erik’s support, that commitment has become even stronger,” Ferranto said.

“Erik understands the importance of a new vision for NCRA, and his knowledge of the legislative system without a doubt serves to complete our government relations efforts and to complement the hard work advocating for the profession at the state level already being spearheaded by our Government Relations Manager Matthew Barusch,” she added.

“After meeting Marcia and getting to know Matt, I am excited to help implement the direction the organization is going in. It seems like a new day and new opportunities are presenting themselves for NCRA, and I am excited to help carry out Marcia’s long-term vision,” Olson said.

Olson brings to NCRA a unique knowledge about the court reporting and captioning professions due to his work with Rep. Kind, a longtime supporter of the Association and a sponsor of multiple official proclamations recognizing the Association’s annual Court Reporting & Captioning Week. As Rep. Kind’s chief of staff, Olson was privy to the issues that matter most at the federal level to court reporting and captioning from the lawmaker’s wife, Tawni Kind, RMR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter and a member of NCRA.

Olson, who is from Rep. Kind’s hometown of La Crosse, Wis., said that while working on the representative’s campaign for more than three years, he had the opportunity to work closely with Tawni Kind and was able to learn more about what she did as an official court reporter.

“My dad was an attorney and has known the Kinds for years. So I also had experience watching court reporters in the courtroom. I also learned more about the profession when Rep. Kind was working on the realtime writers grants as well as when he created the Veterans History Project and involved court reporters and captioners in it,” he added.

In 2016, Olson’s firm was instrumental in helping to schedule meetings with Rep. Kind and other lawmakers on behalf of NCRA members who were attending that year’s NCRA Legislative Boot Camp. The firm is assisting NCRA again this year with creating the event’s app and scheduling meetings for the 2018 event set for March 11-13.

Olson said that one thing he finds so interesting about the court reporting and captioning professions is the lack of knowledge most people have about reporters’ roles in the community.

“I think from a government relations perspective, it is interesting that the people on the Hill don’t understand everything court reporters do or the importance of having credentials or the education required to develop the level of skill needed to do the job,” Olson said. “I don’t think people understand the quality of work court reporters bring to the job, whether it is helping with disabilities, captioning live broadcasts, or working in the courtroom. It is an untapped thing. We have a blank slate to go up and educate members and staff on the Hill, and there are opportunities that come with that. There is a clear path to do some interesting things,” he added.

In addition to his work in the legislative arena, Olson also serves as chairman ex officio and a member of the board of directors of Horton’s Kids, a non-profit organization that offers social and educational services for children in Washington, D.C.

“I am super excited to be working with everyone and to be involved in NCRA. I think there is a lot of opportunity with new leadership and on the Hill to find new champions, to educate them about NCRA, and to look for new legislative avenues. I have a lot of ideas. Rep. Kind should be part of a chorus of champions for the Association, so we need to develop a slate of members to help carry the water into the future and make sure NCRA continues to be a successful organization,” Olson said.

Venn Strategies is a nationally recognized, full-service government relations and public affairs firm. The firm has been named as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America by Inc. magazine.

A member’s perspective on why PAC matters

By Shaunise Day

Do you know what PAC is doing for you?

Behind the scenes, the NCRA Political Action Committee (PAC) is working hard on behalf of its members to ensure the future of court reporting and captioning. This means that PAC has a duty to establish relationships with legislators on Capitol Hill. PAC supports candidates who will work in the interest of NCRA’s legislative agenda to benefit the court reporting and captioning fields.

Where would we be without PAC?

Without PAC, our Association would not be able to monitor legislation from state to state that would affect the court reporting and captioning profession. For example, earlier this year, NCRA took a stand with California to oppose bill AB 1631. California AB 1631 would prohibit shorthand reporting services from gift giving for marketing purposes. This bill would also prohibit shorthand reporting services from entering into long-term contracts with attorneys, law firms, or third parties.

NCRA wrote an opinion letter addressing AB 1631 as well as consulted with state leaders and advised them on an advocacy strategy.

Our profession is currently facing key issues that will affect every member’s livelihood and could possibly shape the future of this profession. There is a student shortage, electronic/digital and video recording to eliminate reporters, and not to mention third-party contracting issues. These are just a few issues, but if we stand together, we can make a big difference in our favor.

Let’s take action and advocate together

Every one of us should feel compelled to take action and support PAC. We all have a responsibility to protect the profession. Let’s start now by advocating together. NCRA PAC only survives by the generosity of its members and contributors. Contributions of any size are appreciated. For the complete set of giving guidelines and a contribution form, visit NCRA’s Government Relations page.

 

Shaunise Day is a student at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif. She can be reached at shauniseday@gmail.com.

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!

Protecting the rights of people with disabilities is not optional

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyAn opinion piece posted Sept. 26 by the Washington Post takes issue with a bill recently advanced in Congress called the ADA Education and Reform Act, noting that it would make the ADA much harder to enforce.

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Online live and near-live captioning deadline nearing

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyTVTechnology.com posted an article on June 23 written by Heather York of VITAC, about the FCC requirements mandating that all live or near-live programming on television be captioned when delivered via internet protocol, which take effect July 1.

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NCRA represented at FCC subcommittee

Two men sit in a hearing at the FCC

Photo by Greg Elin

NCRA’s Matthew Barusch, Manager of State Government Relations, represented the Association at the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) meeting on March 21. NCRA is a representative member of the Video Programming and Technology Transitions subcommittees for a two-year term. This is the second time the Association has served on this committee. Nearly two dozen other parties representing a number of companies, nonprofit organizations, and individual consumers are serving on these subcommittees.

According to Barusch, the Video Programming Subcommittee will issue recommendations on seamless video captioning and video description.

“NCRA will work with the Video Programing Subcommittee to identify issues associated with the transmittal and receipt of captioning and video description files by video programming providers and distributors during the transition from analog to IP communication transmission,” he explained.

The Technology Transitions Subcommittee will examine issues related to real-time text.

“NCRA is thrilled to have the opportunity to provide input on the FCC’s rulemaking regarding this matter. The transition to IP communication transmission presents challenges to members of the captioning community, and I look forward to working with the DAC on addressing these issues,” he added.

The FCC established the DAC in December 2014 to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of disability issues within its jurisdiction. According to the FCC, the DAC provides a means for stakeholders with interests in accessibility issues to exchange ideas, facilitate the participation of consumers with disabilities in proceedings before the FCC, and assist the FCC in educating the greater disability community and American with Disabilities Act-covered entities on disability-related matters. The Committee is expected to keep the FCC apprised of current and evolving communications issues for people with disabilities. Other subcommittees include Communications, Emergency Communications, and Relay/Equipment Distribution.

NCRA members defend need for court reporters

The Wisconsin Law Journal posted an article on March 8 quoting NCRA members Sheri Piontek, RPR, CRC, and Bob Gramann, RPR, about the reasons why taking the human element of court reporters out of the courtroom would be a mistake.

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Michigan lawmakers introduce courthouse violence bill

JCR publications share buttonWSBT 22, Berrien County, Mich., reported on March 6 that three state lawmakers have introduced legislation that would increase the maximum penalties for people who commit or attempt to commit courtroom assaults on a courtroom employee, including judges, prosecutors, police, and court reporters.

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NCRA re-appointed as representative on FCC Committee

Photo by Greg Elin

Photo by Greg Elin

NCRA has been named to serve a two-year term as a representative member on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC). The appointment was announced Jan. 5 and marks the second time NCRA has been named as a representative.

NCRA joins nearly two dozen other parties representing a number of companies, nonprofit organizations, and individual consumers serving on DAC’s Technology Transitions and Access to Video Programing subcommittees.

The FCC established the DAC in December 2014 to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of disability issues within its jurisdiction. The DAC is slated to remain active for two years, with meetings of the full committee and four subcommittees to begin next week.

According to the FCC, the DAC provides a means for stakeholders with interests in accessibility issues to exchange ideas, facilitate the participation of consumers with disabilities in proceedings before the Commission, and assist the Commission in educating the greater disability community and American with Disabilities Act-covered entities on disability-related matters. The Committee is expected to keep the Commission apprised of current and evolving communications issues for persons with disabilities. Other subcommittees include Communications, Emergency Communications, and Relay/Equipment Distribution.

Matthew R. Barusch, NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations, who will represent the Association, said the Access to Video Programming Subcommittee will address televised emergency information, closed captioning, video description, and equipment designed to receive, play back, or record video programming.

“Serving on the second chartered DAC is consistent with NCRA’s appointment on the first charted DAC. This appointment allows NCRA to continue to have a voice in FCC recommendations related to captioning and how it will meet the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community,” Barusch said.

The first meeting of DAC’s new term is tentatively set for March 21 at the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Additional tentative meeting dates include mid-June and mid-October.

DOJ clarifies regulations regarding closed captioning and audio descriptions for movies

On Tues., Nov. 22, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that under the Americans with Disabilities Act, public accommodations that own, operate, or lease movie theaters are required to provide closed movie captioning and audio description whenever showing a digital movie that is produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with these features.

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