Three of the bills seemed tame and technical, designed to smooth the rough edges of a recent property-tax revolution in Philadelphia. Only one would have impact outside the city.

Another bill would have helped bail out Philadelphia's schools by adding $2 to the price of a pack of cigarettes - again, only within city limits.

All four proposals had the support of Mayor Nutter, City Council, and leaders of Philadelphia's state House and Senate delegations.

Then politics got in the way - a blend of Harrisburg's traditional town-and-country animus, a letter from a guy named Norquist, and, of all things, an impassioned speech from one of Philadelphia's own that didn't sit well across the Capitol dome.

The result: Bills that Philadelphia supporters had hoped and expected to pass in the spring remain stuck in Harrisburg.

Most political insiders think the cigarette tax is now dead. Grover Norquist, the national anti-tax crusader, wrote to his Republican acolytes in the spring, reminding them that their no-new-tax pledges applied to Philadelphia's request.

The city's "fiscal mismanagement has led to calls for one tax increase after another," Norquist wrote from Washington. "The state legislature should certainly not assist in raising taxes on behalf of local lawmakers."

With 2014 reelection campaigns looming, bucking Norquist could be political suicide for state House Republicans who signed his pledge.

The city's elected officials, though, haven't given up the fight. Some House Democrats from Philadelphia are trying to use the delegation's influence over a multibillion-dollar transportation funding bill to scare up support for the cigarette tax.

Council President Darrell L. Clarke last week noted the tax had the support of Nutter and all 17 Council members.

"We believe the cigarettes [tax] is the one that probably should happen," Clarke said. "There may be other opportunities to look at other things, but . . . we're continuing to look for an enhanced level of support from the state."

As for the other bills, all related to Nutter's property-tax overhaul, known as the Actual Value Initiative (AVI), the word of the moment is optimistic, despite the months of delay.

All three are awaiting a final vote in the state Senate (one bill still needs a concurring vote in the House).

"The Senate works on its own time," said Rep. Michael H. O'Brien, who sponsored one of the AVI bills. "We're cautiously optimistic that their time will come soon, and those bills will be on the governor's desk in the near future."

Passage couldn't come soon enough for the Nutter administration, which is preparing to send out the first property-tax bills under the new system in December.

The General Assembly, though, is on a two-week break and won't return until next Tuesday.

Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, said recently that some senators "still have questions about the bills."

"We're working through those questions," he said. "We're optimistic that the Senate can deal with the bills when we return to session in November."

The AVI-related bills would allow certain homeowners to make payments in installments; allow the city to tailor tax relief for longtime homeowners in fast-growing areas to those who need it most; and give cities the authority to slap liens on property owned by tax delinquents anywhere in the state.

This last bill would be especially meaningful in Philadelphia, where a large portion of tax-delinquent properties are owned by out-of-town speculators.

The bills, all introduced in the House, were approved there and expected to pass the Senate in the spring.

They got snagged, though, during the fight for Philadelphia education funding, after the city's House delegation leader, State Rep. Cherelle L. Parker, gave an impassioned speech on the floor of the House.

The Philadelphia Democrat criticized Republican Gov. Corbett's bailout package for the city's schools and assailed Norquist - after comically mispronouncing his name several times - for his stance on the cigarette tax.

"I don't personally believe we did the best deal for Philly schools," Parker said. "We put a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound."

State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams (D., Phila.) recently acknowledged what many people were saying - that there were "hard feelings" after Parker's speech that delayed the passage of the AVI bills.

Through an aide, Parker declined to comment for this article.

The Senate was supposed to move on the bills soon after returning from its summer recess in late September - but did not. Williams said Parker's speech had "nothing to do" with the current holding pattern.

In fact, he suggested intramural politics might have been more to blame, saying "the left hand and the right hand didn't necessarily talk." He wouldn't elaborate.

As for whether the bills will finally pass in November?

"It'll get done," Williams assured.

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