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Minnesota Sen. Al Franken expresses optimism on Postal Service issues

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BEMIDJI -- Sen. Al Franken is optimistic that the Postal Reform Bill should pass the House, allowing the Bemidji processing center to remain open and ensuring overnight delivery for local mail.

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"I don't have a crystal ball but I do know that many of the Republicans in the House represent rural areas so they have a very big interest in not allowing rural post offices to close," Franken said Thursday during a conference call with reporters.

"I think they might be more in line with the Senate bill so I do have some optimism there."

On Wednesday, Postal Reform legislation, including an amendment added by Franken, passed the Senate to allow communities to fight proposed closures of Postal Service offices and processing centers.

The bill gives the Postal Regulatory Commission the right to overturn scheduled post office closures if a compelling case is presented.

The final bill also includes changes to maintain regional overnight delivery, which would keep processing plants in Bemidji, Duluth, Mankato, Rochester and Waite Park open.

Some post offices in the area are still being reviewed for possible closure. They include Sunburg, Watson, Hanley Falls, Clontarf, Danvers, Holloway, Correll and Porter. The processing center in St. Cloud is also under review.

Franken said he is also working on an amendment that would put a moratorium on rural post office closings for two years, delaying the deadline scheduled for May 15 and saving regional offices including offices in Lake George, Hines, Squaw Lake, Lengby, Naytahwaush and Ponsford.

Franken said that in order for offices to be saved, communities have to make a compelling case to the Postal Regulatory Commission to prove there is no substantial economic savings gained by closing an office. The commission can be found online at www. prc.gov, by mail at 901 New York Ave. NW Suite 200, Washington, D.C., or by phone at (202) 789-6800.

"They have an avenue of redress, which is important," Franken said. "Otherwise there would have been no place to go."

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