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Senate Committee Passes Postal Reform Bill; Baldwin Amendment Stripped Down
Postal Reform Update: Senate Postal Reform Bill Passed Out of Committee; Exigent Rates Baked Into Permanent Rate Base;
PRC Retains Fewer Oversight Powers

            Paul Miller
         February 6, 2014

Postal Reform Update:  Senate Postal Reform Bill Passed Out of Committee; Exigent Rates Baked Into Permanent Rate Base; PRC Retains Fewer Oversight Powers
To All With Catalog Interests:

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs today passed its postal reform bill, S.1486 by a vote of 9-1 (with proxy votes counted, 10-5). But the key amendment proposed by Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was watered down to obscurity and passed as a Carper-Coburn second degree amendment, effectively trumping Baldwin, and retaining some damaging provisions. In brief, Section 301,
  • still bakes in exigency permanently as a rate base - no going back to pre-exigency rate levels (currently, it is a 2 year surcharge then gone so this is clearly worse);
  • reverts to CPI (eliminates Carper-Coburn's previous desire for CPI+1%) and CPI+2% by class, but only to 2017 when the rate cap is due to be reviewed;
  • gives the Postal Regulatory Commission the power to veto any new rate-setting process that gets written by USPS in 2017 (Carper-Coburn had previously sought to completely strip the PRC of its regulating powers);
  • removes the PRC from prior review of rates; all review is after the fact and only occurs if someone (e.g. a mailer) undertakes an expensive “complaint” case. Bottom line: It weakens the PRC to the point of effectively leaving the Postal Service as an unregulated government monopoly.
In short, this bill is not something we can support in its present form. We will try to get a better "manager’s amendment," or aim to amend the bill on the Senate floor. Failing any of this, we’ll look to get the bill killed altogether, which is sad. What's more, it could also preempt judicial review of last month’s exigent rate hike, which is being appealed by a coalition of industry groups, including ACMA.

Also, there’s been no word yet on when this bill will be voted on by the full Senate. As a result of this unfortunate outcome, however, it's now apparent that we're going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting by mobilizing the industry. We should be grateful to Senator Baldwin, who has made Herculian attempts at improving this bill. We made some minor progress in improving the bill from where it was, but there’s still a lot not to like in the current draft. We are closely monitoring the situation as it is fluid, and are committed to working with Senators and other stakeholders to improve the bill.
Expect to hear from us over the coming weeks with additional requests for constituent communications. Now is the time for all of us to make our needs known...

Hamilton Davison
President & Executive Director
American Catalog Mailers Association
About ACMA
ACMA is a Washington-based not-for-profit organization specifically created to advocate for the unique collective interests of catalog mailers in regulatory, public and administrative matters where the shared impact transcends individual company interests. The only catalog owned and controlled trade group focused solely on the business interests of catalogers and their supply chain, ACMA participates in rule-making and other proceedings of significance where a single collective voice increases influence and effectiveness. Membership is open to any party with direct interests in the catalog industry. More information can be found at

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Published: 02/06/14