Daylight Saving Time arrives early Sunday morning when most Americans will need to spring their clocks forward. For most people in the United States, this means flipping clocks forward an hour at 2am on Sunday, March 14, or simply moving clocks and hour ahead before they go to bed on the night of Saturday, March 13. However, there’s a group of bipartisan senators who are working to ban the practice.
As Daylight Saving Time begins, clocks spring forward and sunrise and sunset get pushed an hour later, translating to brighter evenings with later sunsets. But because clocks are springing forward at night, you also lose an hour of sleep on Saturday night.
Clocks have been springing forward since March 19, 1918 when the US implemented Daylight Saving Time. The rationale for the time change then revolved around fuel and money savings. But since then, studies show changing clocks may do more financial harm than good. A 2011 study showed that electricity consumption grew as much as 4% after some Indiana counties began observing Daylight Saving Time. Other studies have shown similar results, with the time change costing more as it relates to energy consumption.
While the practice of changing the clocks is fairly standard across the country, it isn’t done everywhere. Both Arizona and Hawaii have opted out of observing Daylight Saving Time. The overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands also do not observe Daylight Saving Time (DST.)
In 2018 in Florida, the state senate passed a “Sunshine Protection Act” which formally asked Congress to allow the state to observe daylight saving time year-round. Florida would shift to the Atlantic Time Zone, separating itself from all other states along the US East Coast. Florida would join Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Canadian Maritime provinces in its new time zone. Portions of the Florida panhandle now considered to be in the Central Time Zone would then shift to the Eastern Time Zone. And by opting-out of daylight saving time, Florida would be back in its original time zones as the rest of the country that participates in daylight saving time adjusts forward or back.
Now, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is proposing a Sunshine Protection Act on a federal level, calling for the nation to “not fall back” in November and simply enjoy daylight saving time year-round. This federal act would not change time zones or the number of hours of sunlight.
“The call to end the antiquated practice of clock changing is gaining momentum throughout the nation,” Rubio said in a statement earlier this week.
Senator Rubio said that by extending daylight saving time year-round, the number of car accidents would be reduced while risks associated with seasonal depression would go on the decline too.
Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) agrees with Senator Rubio’s assessment. “Studies have found year-round Daylight Saving Time would improve public health, public safety, and mental health — especially important during this cold and dark COVID winter,” Senator Markey said. “I don’t know a parent of a young child that would oppose getting rid of springing forward or falling back. Congress created Daylight Saving decades ago as a wartime effort, now it is well past time to lock the clock and end this experiment.”
Senators Marco Rubio and Ed Markey are joined by Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), add Rick Scott (R-FL) all support the Sunshine Protection Ace legislation.
“Americans’ lifestyles are very different than they were when Daylight Saving Time began more than a century ago,” Whitehouse said. “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent will end the biannual disruptions to daily life and give families more daylight hours to enjoy after work and school.”
“The Sunshine Protection Act takes a common-sense step to provide some much-needed stability for families in Oregon and across the nation,” Senator Wyden said. “Springing forward and falling back year after year only creates unnecessary confusion while harming Americans’ health and our economy. Making Daylight Saving permanent would give folks an hour back of sunshine during the winter months when we need it most.”
“The public safety improvements, economic benefits, and the wellbeing of the American people are all excellent and credible reasons to embrace year-long Daylight Saving Time,” Senator Hyde-Smith said. “I know the agricultural sector in Mississippi and across the nation desires this change. I believe the Sunshine Protection Act would give us an immediate and long-term boost after a terrible pandemic year and a very dark winter.”
“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,” Senator Scott said. “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.”