ORLANDO, Fla. – Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, is trying again to make daylight saving time permanent across the country after reintroducing the Sunshine Protection Act.
Rubio and other senators have been trying to pass the federal legislation needed to allow Florida’s 2018 law to actually change the state to daylight saving time. In order for Florida to have more daylight, a federal statute is required.
Florida isn’t the only state that has passed similar laws or resolutions. The idea of more sunshine year-round is growing.
Arkansas, Alabama, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — have passed similar laws, resolutions or voter initiatives, and more state lawmakers are also considering taking the step to secure one more hour of daylight.
If the bill passes it would apply to the states who currently participate in daylight saving time, which most states observe for eight months out of the year. Rubio and the other supporters say studies have shown that making DST permanent could benefit the U.S. economy.
“The call to end the antiquated practice of clock changing is gaining momentum throughout the nation,” Rubio said in a statement. “Studies have shown many benefits of a year-round Daylight Saving Time, which is why the Florida legislature voted to make it permanent in 2018. I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent, and give our nation’s families more stability throughout the year.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R- Florida) also backs the legislation. He was governor when it was signed into state law in Florida.
“As Governor of Florida, I was proud to sign legislation to make Daylight Saving Time permanent and I am continuing this effort in the Senate with my colleague, Senator Rubio. Americans could use a little more sunshine after a long winter and an entire year of staying indoors amid the coronavirus pandemic,” Scott said in a statement. “As our state works to fully reopen and bring visitors back safely, this legislation will give families more time to enjoy all that Florida has to offer.”
This is not the first time Rubio or other members of the Senate and House have tried to secure this change for Florida and other states who observe DST.
Rubio and Scott introduced legislation last year citing the coronavirus pandemic as one reason why daylight saving time would be beneficial.
In 2018 the Florida Sunshine Protection Act was signed into law by Scott, then Florida’s governor.
However, until Congress passes legislation allowing Florida to have year-round daylight saving time the Sunshine State will remain on the same seasonal schedule as the rest of the country.
The push to make daylight saving time permanent across the country does have support beyond politicians.
Dr. Daliah Wachs, a family medicine physician, says that one-hour time difference of daylight saving causes a spike in car crashes, workplace injuries, heart issues, fertility issues and depression.
“We might not have pinpointed what is it about just 60 minutes starting to have that sort of health effect but we are seeing grossly in the numbers cumulatively that many people don’t do well with it,” Wachs said. “It might be the perception of it. Maybe people are stressed, and their blood pressure goes up; maybe it’s because people are already sleep-deprived, and that one extra hour puts them over the edge.”
Wachs started an online petition in hopes Congress will put an end to the time change. It already has more than 200,000 signatures.
“It looks like the majority of people just want one time so we don’t have to go through this change and this body disruption of our circadian rhythm -- which could be an issue, maybe the circadian rhythm -- just one hour is enough to disrupt it,” Wachs said. “I think the consensus is of the American public is just pick one, and stick with it because it’s a little obsolete since we’re not in wartime anymore.”
Daylight saving time begins March 14 and lasts until Nov. 7.