Bush signs postal reform

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President Bush signed into law new postal legislation Dec. 20 that will benefit customers by ensuring predictable price increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act is the first major change to the U.S. Postal Service since 1971. The law lets the agency continue its transformation efforts and cost-cutting measures.

"I was excited to be there for the signing," said Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs of the Direct Marketing Association, who was at the ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. "I also felt relieved that it was over, and proud to be among many of my colleagues in the mailing industry who helped make this happen."

Other attendees included DMA president/CEO John A. Greco Jr.; Edward J. Gleiman, DMA postal consultant and former Postal Rate Commission chairman; and representatives from the Association of Postal Commerce, Magazine Publishers of America, Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers and the Envelope Manufacturers Association. Also in attendance were representatives from the print and paper industries, the PRC, Pitney Bowes, unions and employee associations.

The act culminates a 12-year effort by Congress to secure changes to the laws governing the USPS. It will link future rate increases to the Consumer Price Index and give the USPS more flexibility for pricing competitive products. The act also turns the existing Postal Rate Commission into a regulatory body with greater authority and responsibility.

The current rate case under consideration will proceed as scheduled, and the USPS will be able to file one last rate case under the current rules.

The new law directs the Treasury Department to resume the funding of military pensions for postal employees and abolishes a federally mandated escrow requirement, directing those monies to pre-fund retiree health benefits.

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