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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Postal reform stays with common-sense approach for publishers
Wednesday, June 19, 2013; Vol. 4, Issue 94 Here and Now Covering the issues that are going on as we speak…
Postal reform offers common-sense approach By Ronn Levine
This week, in order to gather input on the Postal Reform Act of 2013 prior to introduction, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) posted a discussion draft of new legislation along with many summary documents.
It is Chairman Issa’s intention to introduce the legislation formally very soon and move it through the committee in the coming weeks. This new draft maintains a provision from last year’s postal reform bill to delay any “underwater” rate increases for two years while a study is conducted on how excess labor and facility costs negatively affect the cost coverage of underwater products like periodicals. The agreement also caps such rate increases at 2% annually until a product reaches 90% of its attributable costs, taking into account the findings of the excess capacity study.
“SIIA applauds Chairman Issa for maintaining this common sense approach to the periodical cost coverage issue,” said Mark MacCarthy, vice president, public policy, for SIIA. “We look forward to working with him to pass legislation through Congress this year.”
Highlights of the new proposed legislation include: - Allows the postal service to shift to a modified-Saturday delivery schedule. The Postal Reform Act will allow the Postal Service to maintain Saturday delivery of packages and medicine while phasing out the Saturday delivery of mail- like bills and advertisements. - Brings new leadership in to manage the postal service during restructuring. The legislation will replace the current part-time Board of Governors with a temporary panel of five full-time executives that have a clear mandate to turn around the agency and implement cost-cutting reforms. - Modernizes mail delivery. The legislation will begin to standardize how mail is received around the nation by phasing out the expensive “to the door” delivery of mail, which only a quarter of addresses receive today, in favor of curbside and secure clusterbox delivery – the delivery modes more than 70% of the nation already receive. This will save $4 billion or more annually. - Normalizes rates. The legislation will phase out many special rates for certain customers that force the Postal Service to actually charge certain customers less than the true cost of delivery, while preserving the ability of non-profits to fundraise and communicate in an economical manner. - Ends special treatment for political parties. The legislation immediately eliminates the ability of the national and state political committees to use the non-profit mail rate.
Many more obstacles lie ahead. A Senate bill has yet to be introduced, although one is very likely to be introduced in the very near future. USPS will likely file an exigent rate increase in the coming months that could include not only an across-the-board rate increase, but also an additional increase for underwater products.
SIIA remains engaged on the issue of postal rate increases and will provide updates as developments warrant.
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