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Sununu: Lack of 'Political Will' Could Stall Postal Reform

WASHINGTON — The biggest obstacle to postal reform legislation this year is “getting the momentum and the political will to take this on,” Sen. John Sununu, R-NH, told attendees at the Direct Marketing Association's Government Affairs Conference yesterday.

Nevertheless, Sununu said that Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME, who chairs the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, still expects to introduce a bill by the end of April. Sununu also sits on the committee.

“The environment in which the postal service finds itself today is really different than the environment of 10 years ago and certainly 30 or 40 years ago,” he said. “And it's not going to change. There is a trend for First-Class mail that is downward and is permanent.”

Any progress Congress makes this year toward postal reform “will be historic,” he said.

Sununu also discussed the moratorium on taxing Internet access that expired Nov. 1. He said Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, chairman of the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, is negotiating the final Internet access tax package that will be brought to the floor in a few weeks.

“I think we'll end up with at least a four-year extension,” he said. “I'm certainly hoping for that.”

The DMA backs the House version of the bill, which passed last summer and would make the moratorium permanent.

As for the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement proposal, Sununu called it a misleading euphemism.

“It is not a tax simplification act,” he said. “It is congressional approval for states to tax businesses that aren't in those states, and to collect taxes from people that are not represented in those states. It is the direct authorization of taxation without representation.”

Sununu also raised the issue of VoIP, which allows for voice communication over the Internet. Sununu and Rep. Chip Pickering, R-MS, introduced legislation this month to protect VoIP technology from regulation and to foster the evolution of this revolutionary development in telecommunications.

“I believe very strongly that like the Internet, this is a national network that doesn't have to be taxed at the state level,” he said. “The system should be regulated by the federal government, and the federal government only.”

He called it an important issue for direct marketers because “if you heavily regulate Voice-over Internet, that's going to create a precedent for further regulating the Internet.”

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