Special Florida Legislative Session on Rail Called for December 3-11

Nov 30, 2009

Earlier today, November 30, 2009, Florida Senate President Jeff Atwater and House Speaker Larry Cretul informed Florida lawmakers that a Special Session to create a comprehensive rail transit policy for Florida would begin on Thursday, December 3, 2009.  Statements from each leader are reprinted below along with the text of the formal joint proclamation filed with the Florida Secretary of State.   

Statement by Governor Charlie Crist  

“Working alongside the House and the Senate, we are continuing to develop the basic building blocks of Florida’s transportation future.  Florida’s economy and our people need the boost that commuter rail can bring to our state.  Creating more transportation alternatives means more jobs and more opportunities for economic development that can generate millions of dollars in revenue.”

Statement by Senate President Jeff Atwater

“Creating opportunities to bring employers and employees closer, to move goods and services more efficiently, and to capitalize upon existing transit corridors, is a fundamental component of a robust state economy.  The people of Florida are hurting; many are experiencing the pain of unemployment.  A statewide rail transit policy not only invests in Florida’s future and lays the foundation for long-term economic development, it will also bring much-needed jobs at a time when almost a million Floridians are unemployed and looking for ways to meet their financial obligations.  The time has come to recognize that we must complement our existing road systems with rail alternatives, as we seek to renew our urban industrial centers and build a stronger future for Florida.”

Statement by House Speaker Larry Cretul

“Florida’s transportation future is tied to the state’s prosperity.  For that reason, we approached this special session very methodically, recognizing that we share the goal of doing the legislation right and doing it responsibly.  The proposal we will consider avoids new taxes at a time when Floridians can’t afford to pay them, and still offers effective, creative solutions to move us into a 21st century marked by innovation and efficiency for commuting and travel.”




We, Jeff Atwater, President of the Florida Senate, and Larry Cretul, Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, by virtue of the authority vested in us by Article III, Section 3(c), Florida Constitution, and Section 11.011, Florida Statutes, do hereby proclaim:

Section 1.       

That the Legislature of the State of Florida is convened in Special Session at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Florida, beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, the 3rd day of December, 2009, and ending at noon on Friday, the 11th day of December, 2009.

Section 2.       

That the Legislature of the State of Florida is convened for the sole and exclusive purpose of considering legislation:

(a)        Relating to the Florida Department of Transportation’s authority to acquire, own, construct, operate, market, promote, maintain, and manage existing and new passenger rail corridors;

(b)        Creating the Florida Rail Enterprise within the Florida Department of Transportation to oversee and manage the development and operations of state-owned passenger rail systems;

(c)        Creating the Statewide Passenger Rail Commission within the Florida Department of Transportation to monitor the efficiency, productivity, and management of all publicly-funded passenger rail systems and to advise the Department and the Legislature on policies and strategies relating to state-owned passenger rail systems;

(d)        Addressing the allocation and assumption of risks associated with state-owned passenger rail corridors;

(e)        Authorizing the Florida Department of Transportation to purchase insurance and establish a self-retention fund to insure against liability risks associated with state-owned passenger rail corridors;

(f)        Providing for the allocation of increased revenues to the State Transportation Trust Fund, based on the Revenue Estimating Conference’s revised forecast dated November 2009, to fund existing passenger rail operations;

(g)        Addressing allocation of a portion of documentary stamp tax proceeds provided to the Transportation Regional Incentive Program pursuant to s. 201.15(1)(c)1.d., F.S., to fund the capital costs of future passenger rail systems and associated impacts; and

(h)        Reallocating documentary stamp tax proceeds provided pursuant to s. 201.15(1)(c)1., F.S., to fund the Small County Outreach Program.

Section 3.           

That committees or councils of either house of the Legislature are authorized to consider legislation within the purview of this proclamation from this date forward.

Jeff Atwater, President; The Florida Senate                

Larry Cretul, Speaker; The Florida House of Representatives

November 30, 2009