Sen Franken Bill To Save Saturday Postal Delivery

Today, in an effort to address the financial problems faced by the U.S. Postal Service and ensure that Minnesotans continue to receive rapid, reliable, six-day postal delivery, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (DFL-Minnesota) and seven of his Senate colleagues introduced legislation to modernize the postal service and repeal the law passed by Congress that's largely responsible for the postal service's financial problems.

"People all over Minnesota depend on the postal service to get their paychecks and pay their bills, so it's important that we put this national institution on sound financial footing before it's too late," said Sen. Franken. "It's clear that we need to take action to modernize the postal service, but the elimination of Saturday delivery will only make things worse by forcing customers to take their business elsewhere. This legislation would address 80 percent of the postal service's financial problems, preserve Saturday delivery, and modernize the postal service so it can compete in the 21st century economy."

The measure would let the Postal Service look for innovative new ways to generate revenue by allowing post offices to notarize documents, issue hunting and fishing licenses, and allow shipments of wine and beer—all services currently prohibited at post offices. It also would clear the way for the Postal Service to help customers take advantage of email and Internet services. Moreover, the legislation would create a commission composed of successful business innovators and representatives from small business and labor to make recommendations on other ways the Postal Service could generate new revenue and thrive in the 21st century.

The legislation would also repeal an onerous 2006 law that forces the post office to pre-fund 75 years of future health care benefits for retirees over the course of 10 years -- a burden placed on no other government agency, and almost no private businesses. The $5 billion annual payments have been piling up in a fund that experts say already has more than enough in reserve. Since 2007, the pre-funding mandate is responsible for $4 out of every $5 in Postal Service debts. The bill would also reinstate overnight delivery standards to speed mail delivery and prevent shutdowns of mail sorting centers. Safeguards also would be put in place to protect rural post offices.

The Senate bill was introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and is also cosponsored by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

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