Saturday, July 20, 2013

House bill would allow USPS to limit Sat. mail to packages, let newspapers use mailboxes that day

A House committee is set Wednesday to consider a bill, written by its chairman, that would grant the U.S. Postal Service its wish to limit Saturday mail delivery to packages. The bill appears likely to pass the full House, but last year the Senate passed a bill that would extend full Saturday delivery for two years. The Postal Regulatory Commission has recommended that USPS not cut Saturday mail without doing a better study of its effect on rural areas.

The National Newspaper Association, which has been a strong advocate of Saturday delivery, lobbied for and won an alternative measure in California Rep. Darrell Issa's bill, which would allow newspaper carriers to put papers in mailboxes on Saturdays. They can already do that on Sundays. NNA's members are primarily weekly newspapers, which depend on mail delivery, but also include small dailies, many of which have switched to mail delivery in recent years.

NNA said in a news release that the bill was "a welcome step toward new legislation" that could prevent "disruption in the mail and the threat of substantial postage rate increases. “This bill is a stronger piece of legislation than the one marked up in the House last Congress,” NNA Postal Committee Chairman Max Heath said. “There are still some major concerns that our Postal Committee will be raising after we examine the bill more closely,” he said.

The release noted, "NNA has long expressed concern about the effect upon weekend newspapers if Saturday delivery ends. In addition, it has objected to the Postal Service’s direct interference in the local advertising marketplace and is a party in a federal court proceeding challenging discounted rates offered by USPS to Valassis Inc." NNA President Merle Baranczyk of the Salida (Colo.) Mountain-Mail, said Issa recognizes that such agreements can disrupt the marketplace, but “I think we will have more work ahead of us in this area before we arrive at rules we consider fair.”

The newspaper-in-mailbox provision could leave the lobbying for Saturday mail mainly up to letter-carrier unions, which are "fiercely opposed" to the idea, Sean Reilly reports for Federal Times. They have had an ally in Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the top Democrat on the Government Reform and Oversight Committee, but Cummings said Friday "he is encouraged by Issa’s willingness to include provisions from his bill." (Read more)

No comments: