Monday, October 18, 2010

Just Plain Clarity In DC

It should be no surprise to anyone who has ever written a paper for a professor or is involved in the media, that writing well is NOT an easy skill to master. Every member of our staff has been writing for many years now, as part of their professional obligations, and the commentary you're reading now still goes through multiple edits every day.

When our legislators craft laws, they're often acutely aware of all the less-than-ethical lawyers and lobbyists who will be looking to weasel their way through loopholes in any law that's passed. Unfortunately, that means lengthy and highly specific wording is a requirement in most government documents.

Still, only an extremely tiny fraction of the documents issued by the U.S. federal government are written laws. As of last week, President Obama signed a bill into law simplifying the rest of them.

H.R. 946 - The Plain Writing Act of 2010 - wasn't a sexy law and despite this hyper-partisan atmosphere before the midterm election, was an incredibly bipartisan bill. Sponsored by Democratic Representative Bruce Braley of Iowa, the bill practically flew through Congress, even though thirty-three House Republicans voted against it.

It's not as though this is a new idea. Members of both parties have been attempting to get something like this bill passed in one form or another since the 1950s. Yet it took until this past week to accomplish yet another law that many others in Washington, DC have tried and failed to get passed. We're certain this won't be the end of the effort to simplify government documents - and it certainly won't be a law that lawyers looking for loopholes will shy away from.

Nonetheless, we think this is yet another example of the kinds of positive change that can happen in government when members of all political parties work together.

It's simple.

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