Senate to Vote on Postal Reform This Week


Senate leaders reached an agreement this week to move forward with the postal reform bill, and both amendments that Montana Senator Max Baucus is supporting will be debated and voted on, this coming Tuesday.

Below are the details on the amendments that Senator Baucus is supporting: 

1. The first amendment would place a 2 year moratorium on the closure of rural post offices.  After the moratorium, the amendment would prevent the Postal Service from closing a rural post office unless each of the following conditions are satisfied:

 · Seniors and persons with disabilities will receive the same or substantially similar service, including specifically seniors access to prescription medication sent through the mail

 · Businesses in the community will not suffer economic loss, and, the economic loss to the community resulting from the closure will not exceed the savings the Postal Service obtains by closing the post office

 · The area served by the post office has adequate access to wired broadband Internet service; and

 · The next nearest post office is within 10 miles driving distance (as measured on roads with year-round access)

 (Senators McCaskill, Begich, Tester and Sanders have joined as cosponsors of this amendment.) 

2. The second amendment relates to voting by mail, ensuring that postal facility closures or changes in service do not affect the outcome of elections in states where many voters use the mail to cast their votes. Senators are concerned that changes in postal operations potentially could delay the delivery of ballots and campaign related mail to voters and the return of ballots to election officials, particularly in rural areas that will be most impacted by the proposed closures.  Specifically, the amendment:

 · Places a moratorium on the closure of postal facilities until November 13, 2012 in states that conduct all elections by mail or permit no-excuse absentee voting;

 · Requires the USPS to notify election officials of closings and consolidations;

 · Requires that the Postal Service study the effect of closing or consolidating a mail processing facility on the ability of the affected community to vote by mail, and the ability of the Postal Service to deliver ballots on time in accordance with applicable State law;

 · Requires that ongoing or completed mail processing center studies that did not consider the effect of closure on vote by mail be amended to include that consideration; and

 · Prevents facilities from closing until the amended study has been completed and made public by the Postal Service, allowing for time for a public comment period and a Postal Service response to public comments.

 (Senators Wyden, Merkley, Tester and Bennet are also cosponsoring this amendment.)

Senator Baucus brought the Postmaster General to Helena and then to Ingomar last week to allow folks most affected by post office closures to make their case directly to the head of the U.S. Postal Service.

Over 3600 postal facilities across the nation have been proposed for closure. 

Senator Baucus says this is an important issue for states like his: “I brought the Postmaster General to Montana last week to show him firsthand that we can’t solve the Postal Service’s fiscal woes on the backs of rural Montanans. Closing our post offices could devastate rural jobs and communities, and wouldn’t make a dent in the Postal Service’s attempt to get its finances in line. I’ll keep working for a real solution that addresses the Postal Service’s fiscal problems without hurting rural delivery standards and impeding the rights of rural voters who submit ballots by mail.”

 Posted by Northern Ag Network


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