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The Business Page

Welcome to the business page, a blog where I'll take you behind the scenes of greater Rochester's fast-changing economy. My name is Ben Rand, and I intend to introduce you to some of the personalities, concepts and events that make news in business here. I've been a business reporter for eight years in Rochester and a journalist for 18, working in four states. I grew up in Pittsford, but moved away after college for about a decade. My wife and I live in Irondequoit with our two children.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Senator Pothole

They used to call Al D'Amato that when he represented New York in the U.S. Senate. It wasn't meant to be an insult -- just a comment on D'Amato's embrace of the notion that all politics is local, even on the national scene.

While D'Amato is long gone from the Senate, the guy who beat him obviously has the same philosophy, as Sen. Charles Schumer proved again today.

Schumer appeared at the Greater Rochester International Airport today to call on regulators to drop a proposal that could free airlines from 20-year-old advertising restrictions.

Schumer said that if adopted, airlines would potentially be free to advertise fares separately from surcharges, taxes and fees -- meaning that consumers could be in for a surprise when they hit the checkout button. (The Department of Transportation could ultimately decide to do nothing and keep current policy in place.)

Even the airlines are a bit split. The bigger carriers support the changes while the smaller airlines, such as Jet Blue Airways, want the rule to stay in place.

Schumer says he'll introduce legislation if the changes are adopted.

I asked Sen. Schumer today if the separation of taxes and fees was any different than charging sales tax at the cash register. His answer: Adding a 7 percent sales tax is a little different from extra charges that could be as much as the original ticket.

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