Government affairs

Legislative Updates

‘Postal Innovation Act’ introduced in House and Senate

Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate aimed at enhancing environmental and safety standards in U.S. Postal Service vehicles.

The Postal Innovation Act of 2015 (H.R. 3319 and S. 1854) were introduced in the House by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jared Huffman (D-CA) and in the Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). The goal of the bills is to reduce carbon emissions and allow the Postal Service to use savings gained by implementing this act to invest in innovation, research and development.

The Postal Service has a fleet of 190,000 vehicles in need of upgrades. The House and Senate bills identify a number of requirements for USPS as it seeks to enter into contracts to upgrade its fleet. Both bills call for requiring postal vehicles to be outfitted with collision-averting technology, and it instructs the Postal Service to comply with standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency in accordance with the Clean Air Act. If enacted, the bills also would instruct USPS to reduce its reliance on petroleum products by no less than 2 percent annually by the end of Fiscal Year 2025.

“By upgrading the postal fleet to meet fuel-efficiency standards and implement industry-standard collision-avoidance and active safety technology,” Blumenauer said, “the Postal Innovation Act will save USPS money on fuel and vehicle damages, will cut carbon emissions nationwide, and will make streets safer in every community in America.

The House version of the bill would allow the Postal Service to implement pilot programs in five postal districts to provide or market test non-postal services including financial services, public wireless broadband Internet access, experimental postal products, warehousing and Internet voting. The Senate version of the bill would give USPS the authority to expand the services listed above upon enactment without a pilot program.

In addition, both measures would allow the Postal Service to ship beer, wine and spirits, and it directs the U.S. Comptroller General to conduct a study of the provision of public Internet access and online voting through USPS, following guidelines included in the bill.

“Our bill allows the U.S. Postal Service the freedom to expand their business model and add new services,” Hufmann said, “helping them increase revenues and reach financial stability.

“This legislation will give the Postal Service flexibility to offer services above and beyond mail delivery—simple banking services and Internet connectivity, to name a few,” Blumenauer said. “These reforms are low-cost, high-impact, and have the potential to benefit society and increase the viability of our postal infrastructure.”

“At a time when budgets are tight,” Booker said, “it is in our best interest to find creative ways to make prudent investments that improve safety, reduce the carbon footprint of postal vehicles, and save taxpayers money.”

“While NALC commends these lawmakers for taking a very important first step regarding innovative efforts at the Postal Service,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said, “the NALC has not endorsed either package and will continue to work with the Postal Service to tackle these issues and others that present a path toward ensuring a strong, vibrant and innovative Postal Service.”

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