A leading Florida lawmaker will make another push in Congress to change daylight-saving time rules as most of the nation prepares to turn clocks one hour forward Sunday — losing sleep for more sunlit evenings.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will reintroduce the so-called Sunshine Protection Act this week, according to his deputy chief of staff Dan Holler.
The bill, which was initially filed in March 2018, would make daylight saving time permanent for the nation. It was unclear Tuesday if the proposal would also include language similar to last year’s bill that would specifically target Florida, allowing it to make the change within its boundaries.
Rubio filed the legislation in response to the overwhelming approval by state lawmakers of a 2018 bill that says if Congress amends U.S. code it is “the intent of the legislature that daylight saving time shall be year-round standard time in the entire state.” The Florida daylight-saving time bill, which passed 33-2 in the Senate and 103-11 in the House, was signed into law by former Gov. Rick Scott, now the junior Senator for Florida.
Despite the overwhelming approval, the only power individual states have is to opt out of daylight-saving time, putting them on standard time permanently, such as what is practiced by Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
But daylight-saving time activists said the momentum is spreading nationwide to change the rules and that Florida played a major role in advancing the discussion.
Scott Yates, an entrepreneur who runs a blog dedicated to preserving daylight-saving time year-round said in November the clamor for change was the most activity he’d seen in recent years.
“There is a lot of interest in it. It’s just hard to fix the status quo,” Yates said.
Proponents of a permanent daylight saving time say it will do everything from reduce childhood obesity and crime to improve the economy.
But it would also mean some December sunrises wouldn’t happen until after 8 a.m.
That’s why the Florida PTA opposes making daylight-saving time permanent.
“Darkness for our children in the morning, especially our students who walk to school or are standing at bus stops in the dark causes great safety concerns for us,” said Linda Kearschner, past PTA president, in November. “These students would be waiting for buses or walking to school in the dark making them more difficult to see and potentially creating safety issues for our children as they cross streets or wait at intersections.”
The first nationwide daylight-saving time law was passed in 1918 as an energy-saving measure during World War I. But it was also supported by Boston-area department store owner Lincoln Filene, who compiled a list of the benefits of daylight-saving time, including that “most farm products are better when gathered with dew on.”
In reality, farmers disliked daylight-saving time because they needed the sun to dry dew from their crops before they could harvest and go to market.
But more daylight after work meant more time to shop, play golf and go to baseball games.
In 1966, Congress approved the Uniform Time Act, which included a standard requirement on daylight-saving time. States were allowed to exempt themselves from the requirement as long as the entire state did so.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended the length of daylight-saving time to eight months, from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. It went into effect in 2007.