I am a member of a state board that licenses and regulates a mental health profession. We are bound by an administrative code that spells out everything having to do with the profession as practiced in our state, such as qualifications for licensure, rules and regulations for practice, fees, fines, and procedures for handling consumer complaints. Every two years, we are mandated to have a meeting to take comments from the public regarding our functioning and issues with our administrative code. We then consider the comments, make any changes that are necessary, and then forward the changes to a legislative committee that will approve (or not) the changes we suggest. Usually, public comments have to do with unclear language in the administrative code.
During a recent meeting, our Board attorney proposed the following clarification of an unclear section of the code:
(4) Provide endorsements of application from behavioral health professionals that possess a current license, certification, registration, or other written authorization to practice from a state or provincial regulatory body, as approved by the Board
I and another Board member commented that the statement was fine, except for the word “that” in the second line. We thought it should be “who”. The attorney agreed, and said we could change it if we wished, but that the Legislators would probably change it back to “that”. He explained that the Legislators don’t like to use “who” or “whom” because they are never certain which to use, and use “that” as a safer alternative. I thought that was pretty funny, as well as a sad commentary on the lack of grammatical knowledge of the people who are writing state laws.
What aspects of writing or speaking are you fussy about? What sort of reputation would you have if you were a member of a state legislature?