U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, recently introduced bipartisan legislation to protect postal customers across the country from indefinite “emergency closure” of post offices.
Senate Bill 1204 would end the U.S. Postal Service’s practice of using its emergency suspension process, which was designed for temporary closures, to indefinitely close post offices without notice to the community, opportunity to appeal, or a time frame for either reopening or permanently closing the facility, according to a news release announcing the legislation.
“Kansans in rural communities know and often depend on the U.S. Postal Service as a mechanism for commerce, communicating with friends and family, and receiving critical deliveries such as medications through the mail,” Sen. Moran said in the release. “When a post office closes in a small town, the resulting problems and harm to the local economy can be significant. By requiring advance notice ahead of any closures for the community and providing local residents the opportunity to appeal, this bipartisan legislation will give Kansans more influence over the presence of a post office in their communities.”
Since 2011, 650 postal facilities across the country have been “temporarily” closed under emergency suspension, according to the release.
Hundreds of these remain closed today in communities where the Postal Service has not told residents if – or when – those post offices might reopen, according to the release. Since 2011, there have been over a dozen such suspensions in Kansas – due to staffing issues, expired or canceled leases or safety and health concerns, the release said.