reforms pass; weeklies applaud
News release: December 11, 2006
Contact: Tonda F. Rush, Public Policy Director, 703-465-8808
NATIONAL NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION APPLAUDS PASSAGE OF LANDMARK
POSTAL REFORM LEGISLATION AND URGES PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL
The National Newspaper Association today urged President Bush to
sign into law the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, the
first major legislative reform of the United States Postal Service
NNA President Jerry Tidwell, publisher of the Hood County (TX)
News, said passage of the legislation on the final day of the 109
th Congress, before dawn on December 9, capped more than a decade
of work by community newspaper publishers and other major mailers.
NNA Postal Committee Chairman Max Heath, vice president of Landmark
Community Newspapers, Inc., hailed the passage as a breakthrough
in the long impasses over price caps, repayment of over-funded pension
accounts and various labor matters. His Postal Committee oversaw
NNA's work on the bill since NNA first endorsed postal reform in
“The Postal Service is affected by the Internet and so are
newspapers,” Tidwell said. “We foresaw a decade ago
that the regimen of costly postal rate cases and pricing that depended
upon an ever-growing first-class mail stream needed to come to an
end. But we believe, along with Postmaster General Jack Potter,
that print media are going to be in our lives for some time to come.
The Postal Service has to be able to deliver our mail promptly and
at an affordable price for either of our institutions to survive.”
Tidwell congratulated and thanked the key bill sponsors: Sens.
Susan Collins, R-ME, Joseph Liebermann, D-CT, and Thomas Carper,
D-DE, and Reps. Tom Davis, R-VA, John McHugh, R-NY, Henry Waxman,
D-CA and Danny Davis, D-IL. He said their leadership in the face
of repeated stalls in five successive Congresses had been remarkable.
Heath said the bill contained many provisions that will help community
“We looked for an iron clad guarantee that within county
mail would not see a continuation of the unjustified increases that
the Postal Service wants in 2007,” Heath said. “The
bill sponsors assured us of their support in holding the Postal
Service to the intent of the price cap law, and we will be watching
closely to see that it works.
“Also,” he said, “there are several provisions
in this bill put there expressly at the request of NNA, including
a provision that solves the ‘wandering route' problem where
the Postal Service believed it had to charge higher postage when
a few households on an in-county route happened to fall over a county
NNA's Director of Public Policy Tonda F. Rush said the passage
had been a hard fought battle by NNA's Congressional Action Team.
“Some of us began to think we would never live to see it,”
A year of rulemaking and setting up of procedures will follow the
President's signature. Mailers may not see the effects of the change
until 2008, she said. New rates set under the old law are expected
in May 2007.
Among the provisions in the new law are:
1. Price caps for Periodicals, First-Class and Standard Mail, to
be set by USPS within a cost of living index.
2. New Postal Regulatory Commission powers, including a role in
setting service standards, which are now only informally-recognized
for periodicals, as well as subpoena rights for USPS information.
3. Preservation of Within County Mail, which USPS is required to
carry at preferred rates.
4. Restoration of preferred rates to Outside County mail under
5,000 -- a preference that was lost in the mid-1980s.
5. Within County rates for requester publications.
6. Within County rates for wandering routes.
7. The end of costly 10 month long rate cases. And a new PRC role
will begin, in which complaints about improper rates will be considered
and mandated audits and reviews will occur.
8. A review of the need for a postal monopoly.
9. A report to the President from USPS and PRC on the quality of
data on periodicals' costs.
10. Shifting the cost of USPS military pensions back to the general
federal treasury, which will trim about $78 billion from USPS costs.
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