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U.S. Senate approves Sen. Al Franken's legislation to allow communities to fight post office, postal processing closures

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji mail processing center's life could be saved, thanks to legislation that will allow the community to fight and prevent its closure.

The U.S. Senate passed Sen. Al Franken's legislation Tuesday, which gives the Postal Regulatory Commission the power to overturn post office and processing center closures when the community makes a compelling case to keep the facility open.

Franken introduced the legislation after Postmaster General announced the closure of 117 post offices in Minnesota and five of its seven processing centers, including Bemidji, St. Cloud, Duluth, Mankato and Rochester.

"This legislation could save jobs all over Minnesota and maintain the quality postal service we all depend on," Franken said.

In addition to allowing for appeal of closings, Franken's amendment grants the Postal Regulatory Commission the authority to reverse a closing decision.

It also ensures that any proposed closure is suspended until final disposition of the appeal and it requires the Postal Regulatory Commission to set aside any closing or consolidation that has significant economic savings.

For Bemidji, the amendment saves the jobs of six workers, who were awaiting the May 15 closure date.

In Franken's statement on Postal Reform he argued that the processing facility closures could cause mail delays because the mail would have to be sent to the Twin Cities to be sorted before being sent to its destination.

"When someone in Bemidji, Minnesota sends a birthday card to her neighbor, or a local small business sends an invoice to a customer a few states away, that letter will be sent more than 200 miles south to the Twin Cities to be processed before it's sent 200 miles back north to Bemidji," Franken said. "That just doesn't make any sense."