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Without Clothes in Oregon: the Art and Craft of Drafting Legislation

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Naught vs. Naughtiness: The OLR blog is not prudish, but spelling out certain words on the Internet attracts attention from unwanted quarters, e.g. spammers and other undesirables, so forgive my word replacement choices – it is for my own sanity.

This quote, in this article, Ashland city attorney to examine nudity ban (by the Associated Press, August 20, 2009) caught my attention:

“…Oregon does not have any laws restricting nudity or have a crime of indecent exposure. Instead, people can be arrested for public indecency, but that requires sexual arousal.

Ashland adopted its partial nudity ban in 2004….” (read full article).

From the Ashland City website, you can easily find information about this ordinance, which is on the August 18, 2009, City Council Agenda. (This link may not be the direct one for a long time, but Ashland seems to do a great job at archiving these documents on their public website.)

And the Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) can be searched online, too.

People who don’t draft legislation or statutes (as opposed to the lawyers and judges who have to interpret the laws and ordinary people who have to figure it out on their own) don’t realize how tricky a task drafting legislation is. Even apart from the political high-wire act, the dance of legislation, there is the sheer magnitude of kneading, folding and shaping the English language into sentences and paragraphs that will govern the conduct of thousands or millions of people.

The office of Oregon Legislative Counsel has a bill drafting manual on its website, in addition to a form and style manual.

One also has the problem of people who think they know what a statute says but don’t really, not having read its actual text, e.g. (111th Congress) H.R. 3200, ¶ 1233, which you can read at Thomas dot gov by typing H.R.3200 into the search box (select Bill Number) or just type that same search into Google for a direct link.