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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Floyd County judges sue county for staff pay raises

The News & Tribune reported on Nov. 19 that Floyd County, Ind., judges have sued the county in hopes of securing 28 percent pay increases for the majority of county court reporters.

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The 2016 election: How the results will affect the profession

Photo by Vox Efx

Photo by Vox Efx

By Matthew Barusch

At long last, this election is over. The American people have cast their ballots, and perhaps the most unique and consequential presidential campaign in recent history has reached its conclusion. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th President of the United States. President-elect Trump will now prepare to govern with a fully Republican Congress, and for the first time since 2001, the Republican Party will have control of all three branches of government.

The effects of a Trump administration on the court reporting profession are relatively uncertain, partially because uncertainty surrounds his upcoming presidency. Trump will be expected to fulfill numerous promises he made during his campaign, including his policies on immigration, the economy, and foreign affairs. Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be able to target all of the Obama administration policies that the party has been fighting against for years, including the Affordable Care Act, executive orders on immigration, and energy restrictions on fossil fuels. The vacancy on the Supreme Court will also likely be filled within the first few months. Merrick Garland’s nomination is likely to be tossed aside after Trump’s inauguration in favor of a conservative judge off the list he circulated during his campaign.

With these issues as the primary focus going into Trump’s presidency, issue areas affecting the court reporting profession such as education will likely take a back seat. If and when education is taken up, it will potentially be viewed as an area for budget cuts, which may rule out any new appropriations for court reporting programs.

Trump has also spoken to his desire to make the country safer and improve the country’s infrastructure. A case could be made for the revival of the Local Courthouse Safety Act, particularly in a time where the country is focused on violent shootings and the public is uneasy. In past iterations, the proposed legislation would distribute existing surplus security equipment to local and state courthouses to enhance the security infrastructure of courthouses that lack them. Such legislation would speak to Trump’s campaign promises; however, it is likely that the focus of his administration and the 115th Congress will be on fulfilling his more high-profile pledges.

A broader look at the congressional elections shows that members of Congress who support the court reporting industry have been re-elected on both sides of the aisle in both chambers. In the Senate, Sen. Patty Murray has won re-election in Washington with 61 percent of the vote. Sen. Murray is likely to become Minority Conference Chair in the Senate and remain the ranking member on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, which will give NCRA a powerful ally in the Senate minority. In the House, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries in New York, Rodney Davis and John Shimkus in Illinois, Suzan Delbene in Washington, Ron Kind in Wisconsin, and Dennis Ross in Florida all won re-election. As a result, NCRA retains a strong list of allies on important committees, such as the House Judiciary Committee, which are primarily responsible for addressing education issues of import to the profession. There are also some newcomers to Congress this cycle who are likely to support initiative affecting court reporting. One such person is Jimmy Panetta, who won election in California as Representative for the 20th Congressional District.

NCRA will continue to work for the court reporting profession with its allies in the 115th Congress and looks forward to a hopeful and prosperous future ahead.

Matthew Barusch is NCRA’s Manager of State Government Relations. He can be reached at mbarusch@ncra.org.