Senate Passes the Plain Writing Act

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, center, accompanied by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. , left, and Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 9, 2009, to discuss veterans issues.

Senators “passed the Plain Writing Act, which requires the federal government to write public documents more clearly, last night by unanimous consent,” according to a press release.

The bill is sponsored by Senators Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio), leaders of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management.  Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) authored the bill in the House of Representatives.

The amended bill now heads back to the House for final passage.

“I applaud my colleagues for supporting this common-sense reform,” said Senator Akaka.  “Americans lose time and money because government instructions, forms, and other documents are too complicated.  People need to be able to understand what documents say in order to hold the federal government accountable.  Writing documents in a way that is clear, well organized, and understandable will allow agencies to spend less time answering customer service questions and will increase compliance, making the government more efficient."

“It is vital that government forms and documents are easy for the American public to use and understand,” Senator Voinovich said. “Anyone who has done their own taxes understands how badly plain writing is needed. Americans spend 7.6 billion hours a year grappling with incomprehensible tax forms and instructions. In fact, 82 percent of Americans get so confused they pay for help filing their taxes – stripping dollars from much-needed tax refunds. We work for the American people, and our constituents should be able to understand in clear language exactly what public documents ask of them. This bill is an important step in the right direction.”

(credit image – daylife/associated press)


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