Why is Our Commitment to Legislative Advocacy Important?

By Ken Garner
In February 28, 2014

Believe it or not, there are legislative initiatives developing in our “do nothing Congress” that could significantly impact your business – and not in a good way. Putting health care and taxes aside for the moment, there are concrete legislative proposals related to the USPS that pose a serious risk to printers and mailers.

Why You Should Care

Currently, HR 2748 in the House and SR 1486 in the Senate represent two bills that propose sweeping changes to postage rate making, postal policy, and overall governance. All members of the “postal supply chain” including print, mailing, marketing, and fulfillment service providers need to develop a working understanding of the provisions contained in these bills.

Let’s take Section 301 contained in SR 1486 sponsored by Senators Coburn and Carper as an example. This section proposes significant changes to the way that postage rates would be established. Essentially, it empowers the Postal Board of Governors with the authority to set postage rates, largely eliminating the Postal Regulatory Commission (or any other independent regulatory body) from providing oversight of the process. Can you imagine providing any monopoly with the power to set its own rates? As ridiculous as it sounds, this bill containing this provision has been reported out of committee.

What Can Be Done

What can we do to protect ourselves and our interests? Like almost every other industry we need to develop an effective legislative advocacy program. Fortunately, your association has risen to the challenge. Several years ago, AMSP’s Board of Directors approved a proposal to create a legislative advocacy capability that would be led by a capable and experienced lobbyist – Ben Cooper.

Who Is Ben Cooper?

Some of you may recall that Ben was the architect of PIA’s very successful government affairs department before joining a large independent firm in the District of Columbia. He has over thirty years of experience working Capitol Hill with a focus on printing and mailing issues. I can tell you that based on my experience working with Ben, no one is better connected, has a better understanding of the issues and processes, and can work the Hill better than Ben. In addition, Ben co-manages the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service (more often referred to as the C-21 Coalition) representing the largest and most influential collection of companies that make up the postal supply chain. Your association occupies an important seat on the C-21 Executive Committee.

How You Can Help

However, the commitment of Ben and your association alone is not sufficient to get the job done. We will not be successful without your support and engagement. Your involvement is critically important. In part, here is what your involvement needs to look like –

  • A working knowledge of the issues. Read Ben’s legislative updates that are part of every issue of our monthly magazine and that are frequently posted on our community forums.
  • A willingness to communicate your position. We frequently create letter templates that make it easy for members to communicate our position on important issues. Take the time to read and send them to your respective elected representatives.
  • Make the effort to invite your elected officials to your plants. Without exception they are impressed by what they see and develop a better understanding of the importance of what you do.
  • If possible, coordinate a trip to Capitol Hill as part of an organized “fly in” to meet with Congressional leaders. Face-to-face meetings can be very effective.
  • Provide financial support. Like any worthwhile endeavor, this one requires financial support.

What Difference Does This Make?

As an example, let’s get back to that onerous Section 301 contained in the Senate bill. We successfully worked with Senator Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin to develop serious opposition to Section 301 during the committee process. While we were not able to completely eliminate the provisions, we were able to have them amended before the committee passed the bill. Further, Senator Baldwin has pledged her continued support of our cause. In addition, she will be joining forces with Senator Susan Collins to make sure these provisions will not be part of any bill passed by the Senate.

You Can Make A Difference. We Must Make A Difference.

Please contact me directly at, kgarner@amsp.org or (703) 836-9200 ext. 201, if you have questions about how to make your voice heard.

Ken Garner

President & CEO Ken Garner joined Epicomm – then the Association of Marketing Service Providers – in November 2008 as its President and CEO after a 33 year career in the printing industry – all with the same company. He joined United Litho, a heatset web magazine printing company, after receiving his undergraduate degree. Working his way up the corporate ladder from janitor/delivery driver he held a variety of jobs including V.P of Operations and V.P. of Sales and Marketing. He spent the last 12 years of his printing career as United Litho’s president. In 1994, he engineered the sale of the company to the Sheridan Group and became a member of its Leadership Team.

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