Shuster legislation to help distinguish taxes from price on airline tickets

Two days after President Barack Obama unveiled a new budget including airline tax hikes – and a day after the airline industry complained of the proposed increases – Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, drafted legislation that would let airlines note how much of each ticket’s price derives from taxes.

Obama’s proposal, not expected to go far in a divided Congress, would add several dollars to flight fees levied on each airline ticket, industry group Airlines for America noted Wednesday.

Under a 2012 federal rule, airlines must include the total cost of a ticket in advertisements – including taxes, which make up roughly 20 percent of each ticket, the group said in a news release. Airlines for America complained the government could raise taxes behind the scenes, with customers blaming companies for ensuing price hikes.

Not to worry: On Thursday, a day after Airlines for America urged legislators to reject the tax increases, Shuster introduced a bill that would allow airlines to distinguish a ticket’s base price from added taxes. The bill awaited a ruling in Shuster’s House Transportation Committee as of Friday.

Airlines for America is Shuster’s largest campaign donor over the past year, having given his committee more than $16,000 so far according to campaign finance website

In other news:

n State Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., R-Blair, has introduced a bill that would require Obamacare “navigators” to receive certification from the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. Navigators, who help consumers understand insurance options in the Obamacare marketplaces, “must receive comprehensive training,” according to federal health offices.

n The Washington Post on Wednesday noted another case of possible Shuster family lobbying connections: Shuster’s brother, lobbyist Robert Shuster, has been hired by a Canadian shipping company whose president recently addressed a transportation subcommittee. Robert Shuster, whose firm was also hired in January to help a Maryland town fight a rail route, has repeatedly insisted he does not lobby his brother.

n Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., boasted in a news release last week that he helped stop the confirmation of attorney Debo Adegbile to head the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department. Toomey attacked Adegbile for having signed a death-sentence appeal for Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted in the 1981 murder of a Phildelphia police officer, but Toomey’s critics have noted Adegbile was pressing for Abu-Jamal’s civil rights – the job he would be responsible for in Washington.