2014 Legislative Boot Camp takes court reporter from Maryland to Capitol Hill
VIENNA, Va., March 7, 2014—Janet Brown, a member of the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), the country’s leading organization representing stenographic court reporters, broadcast captioners, and CART providers, and the Maryland Court Reporters Association (MCRA), recently met with the legislative staff of Sens. Barbra Mikulski (D) and Benjamin Cardin (D) of Maryland, to urge them to support the Local Courthouse Safety Act and proposed legislation entitled the National Oath Act. The visit culminated a three-day Legislative Boot Camp program hosted by NCRA, March 2 to March 4, designed to provide advocacy training for the stenographic court reporting profession. Brown was part of a contingency of 44 NCRA state affiliate association leaders and its national board of directors, representing 26 states, as well as Canada visiting Capitol Hill.
The Legislative Boot Camp program, developed by NCRA’s government relations department included a wide array of sessions that covered grassroots efforts, effective lobbying, communicating with Congressional staff, networking tips, and public relations, and provided attendees with a vast cache of skills and tools they can utilize to advocate on important issues for court reporters at the national, state and local levels.
“I don’t think any of us could have had such successful visits with our Congressional representatives if we hadn’t spent two days in boot camp prior to our meetings. The training was worth every penny and the two-days of time. It provided me with the strategies and tactics I needed to be able to ensure my message about the importance of courthouse safety was presented clearly to my Congressman,” said Brown.
“It is important for members of any profession to understand the legislative and regulatory process at the local, state, and national levels to ensure their interests remain protected when it comes to doing good business. The court reporting and captioning profession is no exception.” said NCRA President Nancy Varallo, RDR, CRR, a court reporter and owner of The Varallo Group in Worcester, Mass.
“NCRA’s Legislative Boot Camp is a vital program the association provides to members to help ensure they have the right tools, skills, and knowledge to address lawmakers with the highest level of effectiveness possible to safeguard against measures that could be detrimental to their businesses and to their jobs. This training also brings to members confidence in addressing laws and regulations that benefit this time-honored profession and the services court reporters and captioners provide to the community as a whole,” she added.
The Local Courthouse Safety Act, S. 445, is bipartisan legislation intended to offer U.S. courthouses some additional assistance to increase public safety. Specifically, the proposed bill would allow courthouses to receive security equipment that is no longer being used from other federal agencies and allocate existing federal funding for courthouse security equipment and safety training for court security guards. Last session, the bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a voice vote but was held up in the Senate. At the beginning of a new Congressional session in January, NCRA’s government relations team was successful in getting the bill reintroduced in the Senate.
The National Oath Act, which has not yet been introduced, would reduce or eliminate some of the notary regulations placed on court reporters in interstate matters. While the legislation protects the rights of states and state court reporting boards to set certification regulations and govern who can take a deposition in that state, it offers court reporters the flexibility to work in various states without requiring a notary from that state. This proposed legislation is not an interstate notary either as it solely allows a court reporter to swear in a witness, not to actually take the deposition.
“It is important to NCRA that members of the court reporting profession work in the safest environment possible and we are committed to doing everything we can to help ensure that scenario is a reality. It is also important to NCRA that members of the court reporting profession have the ability to do their jobs when working across state lines. The passage of both the Local Courthouse Safety Act and the National Oath Act would provide huge benefits to our member in terms of safety, additional resources, and ease of doing business,” said Jim Cudahy, executive director and chief executive officer of NCRA.
Brown has been a freelance court reporter for 35 years, 28 years of which were as an official court reporter. She is a graduate of the court reporting program at Villa Julie College, and has been a member of NCRA for 24 years. She holds the nationally recognized credential of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR). Brown resides in Timonium, Md.
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 CareersInCourtReporting.com. For information about captioning, visit www.CaptioningMatters.com.
The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) is internationally recognized for promoting excellence among those who capture and convert the spoken word to text for more than 100 years. NCRA is committed to supporting its more than 18,000 members in achieving the highest level of professional expertise with educational opportunities and industry-recognized court reporting, educator and videographer certification programs. NCRA impacts legislative issues and the global marketplace through its actively involved membership. Forbes has named court reporting as one of the best career options that do not require a traditional four-year degree and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the court reporting field is expected to grow by 14 percent through the year 2020. For more information, visit www.NCRA.org