Postal reform provisions could harm trade shows

Nov. 29, 2012 -- ABM has been actively lobbying for comprehensive postal reform legislation in Washington for almost two years, but as the 112th Congress inches towards completion, the chances of Congress actually passing a bill remain uncertain.

Since early 2011, ABM has helped lead an industry-wide effort to put USPS on a path to financial sustainability by right-sizing its infrastructure and labor force, and giving mailers predictability on postal rates. Specifically, ABM has worked with others in the periodical industry to secure a delay in any “underwater product” periodical rate increase for three years. In addition, ABM is currently working with the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) to defeat a provision that could be attached to the bill prohibiting federal agencies from attending more than one association meeting per year.

Specifically, this provision arose from the GSA conference scandal this past summer and was hastily added to the Senate bill without consideration of the impact limited federal employee attendance at trade shows and meetings would have for the industry. Consequently, ABM and SISO are communicating to members of Congress how important federal agency involvement is to the industry and is hopeful that the provision will not be added to any postal reform legislation this Congress.

ABM’s Washington lobbyist, Tom Carpenter, believes there is a slim chance postal reform legislation is going to be passed this year, but is encouraging ABM members to remain vigilant as the process evolves. “At this point, both the House and Senate postal bills are effectively dead and the Committees of jurisdiction are engaging in talks to see what provisions might be salvaged and placed in a streamlined bill,” said Carpenter. “That said, funny things can happen in a lame duck session, so we are staying fully engaged to make sure ABM’s interests are protected should they try to move a bill.”

An action alert template is available here that can be sent directly to your Congressional allies. When sending the letter, SISO advises including a personal story of your meetings or conventions that could be affected by SA 2060, and how it could hurt the public good overall.

The U.S. Postal Service is in dire financial condition. Not only did USPS reach its federal debt authority with a loss of over $15 billion dollars in fiscal year 2012, the Postal Service is now operating on a cash-flow basis and has failed to make required payments to its retiree health benefit plan for the last two years.

And yet, Congress has delayed passing postal reform legislation and now faces the choice of passing a narrow bill or starting the process over again in the 113th Congress. Complicating matters further, Congress faces so many daunting issues in the lame duck session that it may simply run out of time to consider postal reform legislation. ABM believes that its hard–fought, three-year delay, in any “underwater product” periodical rate increases will remain in any postal reform bill that Congress considers in the Lame Duck Session.

ABM will update members as development warrant on this important issue.