Plain Writing legislative history:  

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

Government use of plain language editing software:  

   stylewriterforgovernment

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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 2008
Version #2, Committed to the Whole House April 10, 2008
Click here to go directly to the bill (below).

About Version #2

Version #2 (below) represents the version of H.R. 3548 that was reported out of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform with amendments on April 10, 2008, and committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union (placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 358).

The Oversight committee, chaired by Henry A. Waxman (CA-10), had developed its proposed amendments in mark-up sessions—first, prepared in its Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives session held on January 29, 2008, and then, in its own (full committee) mark-up session held on March 13, 2008.

(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 2008'.
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.
  
   Bill Comparisons
H.R. 3548, 110th Congress
(FIRST PLAIN LANG. BILL IN HOUSE;
ULTIMATELY FAILED)

Version #2
4/10/2008


Switch to:
Previous (earlier ver. of this bill)
or Next (subsequent ver.)

(switch to Senate bill of app. same date)

  Markups here indicate difference  
between this version and
  previous House version.  

red with strike-through = deleted
green = newly added

   Legislative History
   Media's Response
   Use of Editing Software
SEC. 4. RESPONSIBILITIES OF FEDERAL AGENCIES.
       (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;
     (2) may use plain language in any revision of a covered document issued on or before such date.; and
     (3) shall, to the maximum extent practicable, preserve and enhance the role of English by using the English language in all covered documents.
       (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, the Plain English Handbook, published by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the recommendations made by the Comptroller General under section 5(c).
       (c) ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO USE OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE.—Nothing in this Act shall be construed—
     (1) to prohibit the use of a language other than English;
     (2) to limit the preservation or use of Native Alaskan or Native American languages (as defined in the Native American Languages Act);
     (3) to disparage any language or discourage any person from learning or using a language; or
     (4) to be inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States.

       (c)(d) COVERED DOCUMENT.—In this section, the term `covered document'—
  
   Bill Comparisons
H.R. 3548, 110th Congress
(FIRST PLAIN LANG. BILL IN HOUSE;
ULTIMATELY FAILED)

Version #2
4/10/2008


Switch to:
Previous (earlier ver. of this bill)
or Next (subsequent ver.)

(switch to Senate bill of app. same date)

  Markups here indicate difference  
between this version and
  previous House version.  

red with strike-through = deleted
green = newly added

   Legislative History
   Media's Response
   Use of Editing Software
     (1) means any document that explains how to obtain a benefit or service or file taxes, or that is relevant to obtaining a benefit or service or filing taxes; and
     (2) includes, whether in paper or electronic form, a letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction but does not include a regulation.
       (e) USE OF PLAIN LANGUAGE BY AGENCIES.—Each agency should, to the extent practicable and appropriate, use plain language in any collection of information (as defined in section 3502(3)(A)(i) of title 44, United States Code).
       (f) INCORPORATION OF COMPTROLLER GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS.—Upon issuance of the report provided by the Comptroller General under section 5(c), the Federal Plain Language Guidelines and the Plain English Handbook published by the Securities and Exchange Commission shall be updated to incorporate the recommendations made by the Comptroller General.

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.
     (6) Using, to the extent practicable and appropriate, plain language in regulations promulgated by the agency.
       (b) ANNUAL AND OTHER REPORTS.
  
   Bill Comparisons
H.R. 3548, 110th Congress
(FIRST PLAIN LANG. BILL IN HOUSE;
ULTIMATELY FAILED)

Version #2
4/10/2008


Switch to:
Previous (earlier ver. of this bill)
or Next (subsequent ver.)

(switch to Senate bill of app. same date)

  Markups here indicate difference  
between this version and
  previous House version.  

red with strike-through = deleted
green = newly added

   Legislative History
   Media's Response
   Use of Editing Software
     (1) 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—
     (A) compliance with this Act; and
     (B) the agency's continued efforts to meet the objectives specified in subsection (a).
     (2) A report under this subsection shall be submitted—
     (1)(A) annually for the first two years after the date of the enactment of this Act; and
     (2)(B) once every three years thereafter.
       (c) EVALUATION AND REPORT BY COMPTROLLER GENERAL.—Within six months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General shall evaluate existing guidance for agencies on writing in plain language, including the guidance listed in section 4(b), and provide to the Office of Management and Budget, 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 providing recommendations on—
     (1) plain language guidelines; and
     (2) best practices for plain language.



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

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