Ohio senator backs post offices effort

As the United States Postal Service weighs whether to take measures that could increase delivery time, close facilities and even cut the number of days mail is delivered, Sen. Sherrod Brown is backing a bill he said could expand the offerings at post offices.

Brown, D-Ohio, is one of six sponsors of the Postal Service Protection Act, which he said would address billions of dollars of overpayment into the independent government agency's pension and retirement programs and remove restrictions on providing non-postal services at postal facilities.

"Why couldn't they serve coffee at a post office and charge a little?" he said.

That's just one example of potential new services and revenue streams, Brown said, with other possibilities including notary services, shipping wine and beer and contracting with state and local agencies to provide services like issuing driver's, hunting and fishing licenses.

Brown discussed the bill Wednesday in a teleconference, the day after the postal service agreed to delay the planned closing of 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices until at least May 15. The moves could cost 100,000 postal service jobs, saving an estimated $6.5 billion a year. The agency is expected to lose $14.1 billion in 2012.

The postal service funds its operations through the sale of postage, products and services. It does not receive tax dollars for operating expenses.

"Before the USPS hastily closes facilities, we should examine common-sense steps to strengthen the USPS by improving its fiscal solvency," Brown said in a news release after the teleconference. "This legislation will address the postal service's fiscal troubles while maintaining jobs and high-quality service in Ohio and throughout the nation."

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