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Begich Fight to Repeal Standard Post Increase Clears Major Hurdle

PRC Decision Puts Rate Hike Reversal On Track for March 20

U.S. Senator Mark Begich’s fight to reverse rate hikes for standard post packages—formerly known as parcel post—cleared a major hurdle today with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) decision to roll back the rate increases.  The increases have created financial hardships for residents and small businesses in rural communities across Alaska who ship and receive large packages. 

“Today was a huge win in my fight to roll back these unfair rate hikes for Alaska communities off the road system,” said Begich. “The Postal Service plays a critical role in Alaska communities for the delivery of everything from medicine to groceries. As soon as I heard about the rate increases last month, I had a very frank discussion with Postmaster General Donahoe. During that meeting I made myself very clear:  roll back the rates or I will do it for you.”

At the February 6 meeting, Begich was told to expect a rapid repeal of the rates but the quick turnaround was stymied by requirements for PRC approval and a 30-day notice of the proposed change in the Federal Register.  Today’s decision is a major step in the process and gives USPS the green light to create internal procedures for the rollback.  The changes can go into effect on March 20, which marks the end of the 30-day Federal Register publication requirement.

“There were some unexpected bureaucratic hoops but I am pleased that relief from the higher parcel post rates is on the way for Alaskans,” said Begich.  “My office has been hounding the Postal Service and the PRC over the past month to expedite the process and I’m happy that we’ve cleared a major milestone today. 

In addition to the meeting with U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, Begich used his seat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to push through language in The Postal Reform Act of 2014 to reverse the postal rate increase.  While not yet law, Begich’s language was a fail-safe measure to roll back rates in case the Postal Service did not agree to the rate reversal. The bill also includes other fixes that are a direct response to dozens of complaints about the Postal Service’s failures Begich’s office received in recent weeks, including the unreasonable rate increases for packages, mail delays, understaffing at post offices and uncertainty surrounding post office closures. 

A February 14 letter from Begich to the PRC urging the rate change is attached.  Click here for the PRC order.

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