Plain Writing legislative history:  

   Comparisons of Bill Versions
   Legislative History
   Media's Response: Blogs, etc.
   Historical Bibliography

Government use of plain language editing software:  

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Plain Writing Legislation: A Comparison of Bills

About | House Plain Language Bills, 2007-2010 | Senate Plain Language Bills, 2007-2010 |
  HR 3548, Version #1 HR 3548, Version #2 HR 3548, Version #3 HR 946, all versions 

A Project of the Plain Writing Association


House bill 3548 (H.R. 3548)
110th Congress
Plain Language in Government Communications Act of 2007
Version #1, Introduced September 17, 2007
Click here to go directly to the bill (below).

Background

House bill 3548 (H.R. 3548), 110th Congress—short title, "Plain Language in Government Communications Act of 2007"—was the earliest plain language bill with a direct lineage to the Plain Writing Act of 2010. In addition to its introduced version (shown below), it would have two more versions, but the bill would be blocked in the Senate.

In the next term, the 111th Congress, similar legislation was introduced as H.R. 946, the "Plain Language Act of 2009." That bill would have three more versions. The final version, now entitled the "Plain Writing Act of 2010," passed in the Senate on September 27, 2010; and on September 29, 2010, the House agreed to the Senate's amended version, which was signed by President Obama on October 13, 2010. The bill thus became law (Public Law No. 111-274; in pages 2861-2863 of volume 124 of the United States Statutes at Large, or 124 Stat. 2861).

About Version #1

Version #1 (below) represents the version of House Bill 3548 (H.R. 3548) that was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Bruce L. Braley (IA-1) on September 17, 2007, and referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which would subsequently add amendments to it (making version #2).

(For a history of the legislative process by which the various plain language bills struggled through Congress and ultimately resulted in passage of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, see the Legislative History project of the Plain Writing Association by clicking here. The project also gives more details about the amendments made to the various versions.)

NOTE

     For purposes of this project, the Version #1 is the introduced version and any susequently reported versions, provided that they added no amendments. Version #2 is the amended version of Version #1; and so on. Thus, Version #3 would be an amended version of Version #2; and Version #4 would be an amended version of Version #3. In short, as long as a version of a bill does not change (for example, from the time it's introduced to the time it's reported out of a committee), it is treated as a single version.

     Each bill shown has indications of what material is different from the previous bill shown. Red with overstrike is what was in previous one but not in current one; green is what is in current but not in the previous one. These proofreading-like marks provide an excellent sense of the thinking that went into the process of revision and markup from one version to the next; this is not meant to suggest, however, that the actual revision necessarily utilized only the immediately preceding version.

      Sources of original versions include GovTrack.us and Thomas.LOC.gov


Scroll down to the bill (farther below).
P.W.A. PROJECTS

Plain Writing Association / Plain Writing Act / 
plain English star Plain Writing Legislation: A Comparison of Bills
      — This Project of the Plain Writing Association uses proofreading marks and side-by-side comparisons to show how the various versions of the major plain writing bills of the last few years evolved into the Plain Writing Act of 2010. (MORE)

Plain Writing Association / Plain Writing Act / 
plain English star Plain Writing Legislative History
      — This Project of the Plain Writing Association presents a legislative history of the passage of the Plain Writing Act of 2010, documenting the process by which failed plain-writing legislation in the 110th and 111th Congresses ultimately led to the Act. (MORE)

Plain Writing Association / Plain Writing Act / 
plain English star Government Use of Plain Language Editing Software
      — This Project of the Plain Writing Association is a separate website (writersupercenter.com/stylewriterforgovernment) which advocates the use of the ground-breaking plain-English editing software known as StyleWriter Software to assist government in writing more clearly and concisely, in compliance with the Plain Writing Act. (MORE)

Plain Writing Association / Plain Writing Act / 
plain English star The Media's Response to Plain Writing Legislative Efforts
      — This ongoing Project of the Plain Writing Association attempts to document the media's response to the legislative efforts leading to the Plain Writing Act of 2010.  Focusing mainly on the period from 2007 to 2010, the Project, arranged chronologically, presents links to articles and posts in blogs, newspapers, and other periodicals. (MORE)

Plain Writing Association / Plain Writing Act / 
plain English star A Historical Bibliography of the Plain Language Movement
      — This ongoing Project of the Plain Writing Association presents links to articles that cover the main categories of the history of the plain language movement within American government. (MORE)

A BILL

To enhance citizen access to Government information and services by establishing plain language as the standard style for Government documents issued to the public, and for other purposes.

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
       This Act may be cited as the `Plain Language in Government Communications Act of 2007'.
SEC. 2. PURPOSE.
       The purpose of this Act is to improve the Federal Government's effectiveness and accountability to the public by promoting clear communication that the public can understand and use.
SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.
       In this Act:
     (1) AGENCY.—The term `agency' means an Executive agency, as that term is defined in section 105 of title 5, United States Code.
     (2) PLAIN LANGUAGE.—The term `plain language' means language that the intended audience can readily understand and use because it is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain language writing.
SEC. 4. RESPONSIBILITIES OF FEDERAL AGENCIES.
  
   Bill Comparisons
H.R. 3548, 110th Congress
(FIRST PLAIN LANG. BILL IN HOUSE;
ULTIMATELY FAILED)

Version #1
9/17/2007


Switch to:
Previous (earlier ver. of this bill)
or
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(switch to Senate bill of app. same date)

            Next bill shows markups           
comparing it with
this bill.

red with strike-through = deleted
green = newly added

   Legislative History
   Media's Response
   Use of Editing Software
       (a) REQUIREMENT TO USE PLAIN LANGUAGE IN NEW DOCUMENTS.—Within one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, each agency—
     (1) shall use plain language in any covered document of the agency issued or substantially revised after the date of the enactment of this Act; and
     (2) may use plain language in any revision of a covered document issued on or before such date.
       (b) GUIDANCE.—In implementing subsection (a), an agency may follow either the guidance of the Plain English Handbook, published by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the Federal Plain Language Guidelines. If any agency has its own plain language guidance, the agency may use that guidance, as long as it is consistent with the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.
       (c) COVERED DOCUMENT.—In this section, the term `covered document'—
     (1) means any document that explains how to obtain a benefit or service or that is relevant to obtaining that benefit or service; and
     (2) includes a letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction but does not include a regulation.
SEC. 5. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.
       (a) INITIAL REPORT.—Within six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the head of each agency shall submit to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate a report that describes how the agency intends to meet the following objectives:
     (1) Communicating the requirements of this Act to agency employees.
     (2) Training agency employees to write in plain language.
     (3) Meeting the deadline set forth in section 4(a).
     (4) Ensuring ongoing compliance with the requirements of this Act.
     (5) Designating a senior official to be responsible for implementing the requirements of this Act.
       (b) ANNUAL AND OTHER REPORTS.—The head of each agency shall submit to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs of the Senate a report on compliance with this Act—
  
   Bill Comparisons
H.R. 3548, 110th Congress
(FIRST PLAIN LANG. BILL IN HOUSE;
ULTIMATELY FAILED)

Version #1
9/17/2007


Switch to:
Previous (earlier ver. of this bill)
or
Next (subsequent ver.)
(switch to Senate bill of app. same date)

            Next bill shows markups           
comparing it with
this bill.

red with strike-through = deleted
green = newly added

   Legislative History
   Media's Response
   Use of Editing Software
     (1) annually for the first two years after the date of the enactment of this Act; and
     (2) once every three years thereafter.


Plain Writing Legislation: A Comparison of Bills

About | House Plain Language Bills, 2007-2010 | Senate Plain Language Bills, 2007-2010 |
  HR 3548, Version #1 HR 3548, Version #2 HR 3548, Version #3 HR 946, all versions 

A Project of the Plain Writing Association

Copyright © 2010-2011 Plain Writing Association