Plain Writing Laws in the US

There are several recent laws that include requirements for plain language by the U.S. government, health insurance companies and credit card companies.

  • The Plain Regulations Act
    Would require the government to write new and updated regulations in clear, simple, easy-to-understand language. It would “simplify rules, saving small businesses time and freeing up money that can be better used investing in growing the business and creating jobs.”
    The Plain Regulations Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) on January 18, 2012
  • The Plain Writing Act of 2010
    Requires the federal government to write all new publications, forms, and publicly distributed documents in a “clear, concise, well-organized” manner that follows the best practices of plain language writing.
    The Plain Writing Act was signed by President Obama on October 13, 2010 and went into full effect on October 13, 2011
  • The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010
    Requires all model disclosures to be written in plain language and to be validated through consumer testing. (Section 1032 (b)(2)(3))
  • America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009
    Requires that information for patients be written in plain language. (Section 133)
  • Credit CARD Act of 2009
    Required credit card companies to explain their agreements, including interest rates, penalties, and how to pay off the loan clearly, in plain language.
  • ERISA – Employee Retirement Income Security Act
  • HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
  • RESPA  - Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act
  • Federal Rules of Evidence – Jury Instructions

How to track legislation

The fastest way to find information about a current bill in the Library of Congress’ Thomas is to search the current Congress by bill number, using the search form at the top of the home page.

You an also search for all bills containing a word or phrase. The search finds all bills with any of the words entered. Try searching for “plain language” or “plain writing.” A bill may appear several times, as it is amended and passed through both the Senate and House.

News

Articles about plain language laws from Plain Language Matters

Center for Plain Language (centerforplainlanguage.org)

http://centerforplainlanguage.org/resources/plain-writing-laws/

Printed April 20, 2014

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