Plain English in Oregon

Today the state of Oregon’s lawmakers are discussing a bill that would mandate plain English in official state communications. If they pass a bill requiring plain English, Oregon will join the U.S. federal government and Florida and Washington state governments in outlawing obfuscation. Oops–I mean outlawing confusing, dense language that is very difficult to understand.

In the online version of The Oregonian, Janie Har covers the story of the bill and its chief sponsor, Representative Chuck Riley. Riley offers a fine example of what the bill seeks to eliminate. The passage begins like this:

In every building or other structure, or part thereof, used for mercantile, business, industrial, or storage purposes, the loads approved by the building official shall be marked on plates of approved design which shall be supplied and securely affixed by the owner of the building, or his duly authorized agent. . . .

It ends the same dizzying way. What does it mean? Read plain language expert Annetta Cheek’s revision here.

Go, Oregon! And thanks to Oregonian Caralee for informing me of this promising movement.