Schumer Chastises U.S. DOT For Scrapping Airline Baggage Cost Disclosure

    U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

    U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (DE-NY) yesterday called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to reconsider its recent scrapping of a critical consumer protection that would have required airlines to disclose the cost of added checked bag fees upfront when purchasing an airplane ticket.

    The Obama-era proposal would have provided greater transparency by protecting consumers from varied airline fees that can easily skyrocket the cost of a boarding ticket. However the USDOT last week decided to reverse course and abruptly cancelled the proposed rule.

    “The Department of Transportation’s out-of-thin-air decision to scrap this consumer protection proposal is nothing more than a Christmas gift to the airlines who will now rake in even more profit,” said Schumer. “When it comes to purchasing a flight, consumers have the right to know the full cost of all fees upfront – that’s why this rule made so much sense. Without upfront fee disclosure, airlines could syphon even more from consumers’ pockets by actually raising bag fees, or at the very least hiding them in the fine print and that’s why I’m urging the feds to immediately reverse course and restore this commonsense passenger protection.” 

    Schumer explained that baggage fees greatly vary among airlines. On domestic flights, some airlines charge customers $25 for their first checked bag whereas others charge between $25-$60. Alternatively, there are airlines that offer no fee for the first bag but then increase the fee for each additional bag.  Those fees can be as much as $35 for the second bag and $150 for the third bag. Schumer said these price discrepancies and policies are costly for consumers and vary greatly which is why transparency is especially pertinent.

    PA James Throws Support Behind Kim’s Small Biz Bill 

    Assemblymember Ron Kim/Facebook

    Public Advocate Letitia James

    New York City Public Advocate Letitia James last week wrote a letter to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in support of Assemblymember Ron Kim’s (D-Whitestone, Flushing and Murray Hill) small business bill (A7636 / S6707), which would offer financial assistance to certain small businesses including dry cleaners and those that practice nail specialty for necessary code related improvements.

    Kim and local small business leaders had previously met with James to discuss the issues and concerns facing small business owners, particularly those in the dry cleaning and nail salon industry. In their meeting, they spoke with her about the increasingly difficult economic and regulatory environment many of their members face, as well as the burdens of dealing with the Governor’s recent executive mandates.

    The comes as the bill was delivered to Cuomo’s desk on December 6 and the governor now has until December 18 to decide whether to sign it.

    In a larger context, these advocacy efforts cap Kim’s persistent, multi-year effort by to help New York’s struggling small businesses. In last year’s legislative session, he had worked with former State Senator Daniel Squadron to pass a law (A6621B / S579C)  expanding micro-loan access for small businesses; and just recently, a bill (A3178 / S1422) he championed to protect seafood retailers from fraudulent practices was signed into law.

    “I am sincerely thankful for Public Advocate James’ support for our small business bill, and hope her letter to the governor will further convince him of the need to support New York’s struggling mom-and-pop stores,” said Kim.

    “It is essential that after years of economic hardship and institutional neglect, we acknowledge the vital role small businesses play in our state’s economy. Working-class entrepreneurs represent the heart of New York. I have done all that I can to ensure this bill’s passage, and now that it has been delivered to the governor’s desk, I hope those who support it will continue to do all they can to persuade him of its importance,” he added.

    Dromm Distributes Children’s Book Highlight Jackson Hts. Diversity

    City Council Member Daniel Dromm/via Facebook

    City Council Member Daniel “Danny” Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) on Friday joined Jackson Heights Beautification Group Secretary Edwin Westley, Judge Rudolph E. Greco, PS 69 Principal Martha Vasquez and PS 69 Arts Coordinator/Liaison Deborah Strack Cregan to distribute approximately 200 free copies of Greco’s children’s book Jackson Heights: From Ice Age to Space Age to the school’s fourth grade students.

    The book, featuring illustrations that neighborhood children drew, tells the story of a community comprised of people from over 70 countries and speaking 40 languages.  First printed in 1996, the book was a project supported by the Beautification Group. It was written by Rudolph E. Greco, Jr. and Claudia Solomon.

    The Jackson Heights Beautification Group will distribute several hundred additional copies to fourth graders in other parts of the neighborhood in the coming weeks.

    “These books are an exciting way to teach children about Jackson Heights and just why it is so unique,” said Dromm, who also chairs the Council’s Education Committee. “They help provide local students with a sense of local history and help foster neighborhood pride.  I am most grateful to Judge Greco and the Jackson Heights Beautification Group for making this book giveaway a reality.”

    Crowley Notes Stagnant Wage Growth In November Jobs Report

    U.S. Rep. and House Democratic Caucus Chair Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside & parts of the Bronx) last week picked up on the stagnant wage growth in the country’s November Jobs report released last week.

    The report showed the U.S. Economy added a healthy 228,000 jobs in November and that unemployment held at a 17-year low, but that wage gains remained underwhelming.

    “Republicans lack vision on how to create an economy that lifts up working and middle-class families. Their to-the-brink style of governing has once again brought the country to the precipice of a shutdown. The tax plan they’ve rushed through Congress helps corporate special interests and GOP donors, but will decimate a generation of teachers, firefighters, shift workers, and the elderly,” said Crowley.

    “There is a better way. Democrats have a plan to raise wages, which today’s jobs report shows are increasing far too slowly. We must also invest in our country by supporting a robust infrastructure plan that put people back to work in meaningful and well-paying jobs and opens new opportunities for the American middle class,” he added.

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