*Senate Passes Nonprofit Rate Relief Bill

The U.S. Senate on Friday passed S. 2686, a bill that would grant nonprofit mailers postal relief and would counteract increases in the U.S. Postal Service’s proposed rate case.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Thad Cochran, R-MS; Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel Inouye, both D-HI; Richard Durbin, D-IL; and Joseph Lieberman, D-CT. Cochran is chairman and Akaka is ranking minority member of the Senate Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services.

The bill attempts to:

• Set nonprofit periodical rates and other preferred rates at 95 percent of the counterpart commercial rate. As a result, nonprofit mailers would receive a 5 percent discount on the commercial rate, excluding the advertising portion.

• Set the revenue-per-piece for nonprofit Standard-A mail to reflect a 40 percent discount on the revenue-per-piece for commercial Standard-A mail.

The bill stipulates that nonprofit rates would always be a percentage of commercial rates — the two categories would always be compiled and counted together — which nonprofits think would greatly improve the reliability of USPS data and may eventually lower their rates.

The U.S. House of Representatives still has to vote on the legislation, but insiders said it is expected to pass the bill this week.

The legislation must be passed before Congress adjourns so it can be given to the Postal Rate Commission in time to be incorporated into the current rate case. Unless the legislation passes both houses of Congress and is signed into law before the scheduled recess, nonprofit rates will be set by the PRC under current law. If this happens, nonprofit rates may increase by double digits, with some rates increasing as much as 48 percent.

Congress will recess on or about Oct. 13, a week later than scheduled, but so much legislation remains on the table that it is likely they will reconvene after Election Day.

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