On November 5, 2009, Gov. Crist urged legislative leaders to call a special session in December to address commuter rail issues. Although a special session can be called either by the governor or by a joint proclamation of the Senate president and House speaker, Gov. Crist said he did not want to proceed until there was an agreement between the two chambers.
A December special session, if called, would probably occur during the week of December 7, 2009, when legislators are already scheduled to be at the Capitol for committee meetings.
Supporters of commuter rail projects have said that the availability of a portion of $8 billion in federal high-speed rail funding will depend on the state’s commitment to projects such as the Tri-Rail system in South Florida and the proposed SunRail project in Central Florida. A spokesperson for Senate President Jeff Atwater (R-North Palm Beach) said that federal officials told Sen. Atwater that “they would be making their high-speed rail decision this winter and one of the things they said they were looking at was the state showing a commitment to rail transit…They specifically cited SunRail and Tri-Rail.”
Gov. Crist said, “If SunRail can occur, if we can complete that project, we have a great opportunity for the bullet train and the additional jobs that that can provide.”
The House has previously passed SunRail legislation, but the spokesperson for Speaker Larry Cretul (R-Ocala) indicated that House leadership was not eager for a special session unless passage in the Senate was assured. According to the spokesperson, “To justify a special session, the Speaker would need to see specifics of the Senate’s proposal and he would need the specific, clear assurance that the Senate has the votes to approve the proposal.”