From Marcia Gelbart:
Though it is his last year in office, state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo is not going quietly into the night.
The legendary lawmaker from South Philadelphia is causing some pains for Philadelphia officials - Mayor Nutter, for one — with some last-minute moves as Harrisburg tried to wrap up business before summer.
What Fumo did was add some controversial lanaguage to an already controversial bill regarding special tax-free areas known as Keystone Opportunity Zones (KOZ). Nutter was personally pushing that bill since it would help entice a big financial firm, BlackRock Inc., to move to move 1,100 employees here from central New Jersey.
The Fumo amendment, consisting of one paragraph in a 16-page bill, would have prohibited the KOZ designation on any land that was within 1,001-feet of any parcel with a project that received $20 million or more in state assistance in the last four years.
Fumo’s spokeman did not return a call or email to shine any light on what this language was all about.
But some political insiders suspect it had nothing to do with BlackRock. Rather, it may have been aimed at preventing Philadelphia’s newest proposed skyscraper, the American Commerce Center, from getting any state aid or being eligible for the city’s 10-year tax abatement on new construction. At 1,510 feet, it would be Philadelphia’s tallest building — and just a block from the city’s current tallest building, the Comcast Center.
Though approved in the Senate, the Fumo language Wednesday in the House, bringing relief to senior Nutter aides who feared it might jeopardize the whole bill.
And so that’s one problem averted, for the moment. The bill is expected to go back to the Senate, where Fumo will have another whack at it, if he chooses.