Court reporters or court reporting services provider; prohibited actions, civil penalties. (SB545)

Introduced By

Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Court reporters; prohibited actions; civil penalties. Establishes ethical standards and requirements for the provision of court reporting services, including prohibiting providers of court reporting services from (i) entering into contracts for more than one case, action, or legal proceeding with a party to an action, insurance company, third-party administrator, or any other person or entity that has a financial interest in the case, action, or legal proceeding; (ii) giving an economic advantage to one side that is not offered to the other; (iii) having a financial interest in the action; (iv) entering into an agreement for court reporting services that restricts an attorney from using the court reporter or court reporting services provider of the attorney's choosing; (v) allowing the format, content, or body of a certified transcript as submitted by the court reporter to be manipulated in a manner that increases the cost of the transcript; and (vi) providing additional advocacy or litigation support services. The bill provides that a person harmed by a violation of these standards may file a complaint with the administrative body, court, or administrative tribunal in which the action upon which the legal proceeding is based is pending or scheduled to be heard. The bill provides that the court reporter or court reporting services provider alleged to have violated such standards shall be given notice and a right to be heard on any such complaint, with the right of appeal or review. The bill further provides that a person who violates these standards is subject to a civil penalty of $500 for a first offense, $750 for a second offense, and $1,000 for a third and any subsequent offense, which shall be paid to the state treasury and credited to the Legal Aid Services Fund within the Virginia State Bar fund. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/09/2018Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/18 18104488D
01/09/2018Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/05/2018Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (14-Y 1-N) (see vote tally)
02/05/2018Committee substitute printed 18106696D-S1
02/06/2018Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/07/2018Read second time
02/07/2018Reading of substitute waived
02/07/2018Committee substitute agreed to 18106696D-S1
02/07/2018Reading of amendments waived
02/07/2018Amendments 1-7 by Senator Reeves rejected (14-Y 26-N) (see vote tally)
02/07/2018Reading of amendment waived
02/07/2018Amendment #8 by Senator Obenshain agreed to
02/07/2018Engrossed by Senate - committee substitute with amendment SB545ES1
02/07/2018Printed as engrossed 18106696D-ES1
02/08/2018Read third time and passed Senate (36-Y 4-N) (see vote tally)
02/08/2018Reconsideration of passage agreed to by Senate (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/08/2018Passed Senate (35-Y 5-N) (see vote tally)
02/13/2018Impact statement from DPB (SB545ES1)
02/14/2018Placed on Calendar
02/14/2018Read first time
02/14/2018Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
02/15/2018Assigned Courts sub: Subcommittee #2
02/19/2018Subcommittee recommends reporting with substitute (8-Y 0-N)
02/23/2018Reported from Courts of Justice with substitute (13-Y 5-N) (see vote tally)
02/23/2018Committee substitute printed 18107324D-H1
02/23/2018Referred to Committee on Appropriations
02/26/2018Assigned App. sub: General Government & Capital Outlay
02/26/2018Subcommittee recommends reporting (6-Y 2-N)
02/27/2018Reported from Appropriations (11-Y 10-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2018Constitutional reading dispensed (95-Y 0-N)
02/28/2018VOTE: AGREE TO MOTION (95-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2018Taken up out of order pursuant to House Rule 52 (96-Y 0-N)
02/28/2018VOTE: AGREE TO MOTION (96-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2018Read third time
02/28/2018Committee substitute agreed to 18107324D-H1
02/28/2018Engrossed by House - committee substitute SB545H1
02/28/2018Passed House with substitute (79-Y 20-N)
02/28/2018VOTE: PASSAGE (79-Y 20-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2018House substitute rejected by Senate (0-Y 40-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2018House insisted on substitute
02/28/2018House requested conference committee
02/28/2018Senate acceded to request (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/28/2018Conferees appointed by Senate
02/28/2018Senators: Obenshain, Stanley, Petersen
02/28/2018Conferees appointed by House
02/28/2018Delegates: Habeeb, Leftwich, Toscano
03/01/2018Impact statement from DPB (SB545H1)
03/05/2018C Amended by conference committee
03/05/2018Conference substitute printed 18107996D-S2
03/05/2018Conference report agreed to by Senate (38-Y 2-N) (see vote tally)
03/05/2018Conference report agreed to by House (74-Y 24-N)
03/05/2018VOTE: ADOPTION (74-Y 24-N) (see vote tally)
03/05/2018Reconsideration of conference report agreed to by House
03/05/2018Conference report agreed to by House (74-Y 25-N)
03/05/2018VOTE: ADOPTION #2 (74-Y 25-N) (see vote tally)
03/07/2018Bill text as passed Senate and House (SB545ER)
03/07/2018Impact statement from DPB (SB545ER)
03/07/2018Signed by Speaker
03/09/2018Signed by President
03/15/2018Enrolled Bill Communicated to Governor on March 15, 2018
03/15/2018G Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, April 9, 2018
04/06/2018G Approved by Governor-Chapter 783 (effective 7/1/18)
04/06/2018G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0783)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 1 clip in all, totaling 4 minutes.


This is a transcript of the video clips in which this bill is discussed.

committee on appropriations. >> the delegate from salem, delegate habeeb. >> I move the adoption of the committee substitute from the committee on courts of justice. >> shall the committee substitute be agreed to. Espn full all in favor of the motion, say aye as many as favor that motion say aye, those opposed no. Nos. >> that is agreed to.

Del. Greg Habeeb (R-Salem): senate bill 544 is in relation to court reporter contracts. A weird vote spread out of appropriations. I think we will hear from some people on both sides who support and oppose the bill. This is brought on behalf of your local court reporters, constituents performing court reporting services in the districts. The issue is that we have national out-of-state court reporters entering into multicase contracts with the insurance companies and then passing off the extra burden of that to the local attorneys and local parties who live in your district. This bill does several things that are noncontroversial. I think what it does is some people have an issue with is that it limits the ability to enter into multicontract relationships and has a penalty. The reason that part about the multicontracts is important is what you have is you have a couple of out-of-state national companies who are retaining folks on an ongoing basis and providing a reduced rate benefit to those folks. We don't find what people do in the contracts. The problem is there is another party which is the other party to the litigation who is not in a position to negotiate that contract but is forced to abide by it. They then get the costs shifted on to them and becomes a burden on them. So, again I think this bill is not partisan. I think we will hear from some folks over there. I would move passage.

[Unknown]: the delegate from fairfax, delegate watts. >> thank you, Mr. Speaker. Speaking to the bill. >> the delegate has the floor. from where I stand, it is unfortunate that this bill had to be moved forward that we couldn't continue to understand what we are doing here. But, when I look at this bill, the explanation was all about out-of-state abuse and yet the bill does not direct itself just to out-of-state, it looks at the business practice of anyone who might enter an ongoing contract. And there is any number of reasons why it would be beneficial to have an ongoing relationship between a firm or entity and a court reporter. Note the bill specifically excludes local governments from being able to enter into such a contract. Underscoring that this is good business practice. So, when I look at this bill, that we are prohibiting that practice completely, that we are stepping in and saying that this kind of good relationship is unacceptable, I am left with at conclusion that this is a turf battle. And I think it is premature for us to at this time to be looking at a bill that does away with this practice completely when the offense seems to be only about an out-of-state situation. I again I hope it will be the pleasure of the body not to pass this bill and continue to a nor narrowly focus on any -- more narrowly focus on problem that May! Exist. >> delegate toscano.

Del. David Toscano (D-Charlottesville): the delegate has the floor. >> I want to reinforce the comments from the delegate from salem.