There are many regulations and laws on the federal, state, and local levels that have a great impact on the type of business you can do and how you do it. Therefore, it is critical that you stay up-to-date with proposed changes to these laws by monitoring what’s going on in your state and federal legislatures. Not only will this allow you to plan for any changes, but more importantly, it will allow you to participate in the legislative process to ensure that your voice is heard.
It has been a common practice for the court reporting community to change legislation in their favor. An example of this is to create certification requirements that favor one method of court reporting over another. To ensure that you are not legislated out of a job, there are several ways to monitor your state and federal legislatures.
Here is a list of several websites that provide free resources for finding and tracking bills in your state legislature and in the U.S. Congress.
NATIONAL LEVEL – There are several good sites for keeping tabs on the U.S. Congress, including:
- Govtrack - www.govtrack.us – Provides a lot of information on the members of Congress (You can enter your address to find your senators and representatives.); voting records; what’s going on with various committees; et cetera. Click “Bills & Resolution” at the top of the home page and use the “Track By Keyword Search” to search for bills related to our industry.
- Thomas - http://thomas.loc.gov/home/thomas.php - This site is run by the Library of Congress and has a wealth of information on what is going on in Congress. Start with the “Search Bill Summary and Status” in the top middle of the home page.
- CONGRESS.GOV - https://www.congress.gov/ - Another site that allows you to search current legislation for bills that relate to the court reporting industry.
STATE LEVEL – Start with the official site for your state legislature. These sites will provide basic information on the legislative process, members, session dates, et cetera and most will have a search feature to assist in finding bills related to court reporting. In addition, here is a site to cover all the states:
- StateScape - http://www.statescape.com/ - While this site does offer subscription based tracking, there is a lot of very good free information available. Included are links to all the state legislatures, session schedules, a primer on the legislative process in each state, information on the budget process, which tends to drive a lot of the other issues, and even links to the major newspapers in each state. Click on the “Resources” at the top of the home page to be taken to the “BillFinder” which allows you to search specific bills or keywords in your state or multiple states.
With the tools above, you should be able to stay on top of any legislative issues affecting our industry. If you have resources that you find useful, please share them with us and, as always, if you hear of any issues affecting court reporting or transcribing in your state, please alert us right away. We are here to help promote digital reporting and transcribing, so please stay in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org.