TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A move to put all of Florida in the same time zone, while following daylight-saving time throughout the year, got the backing of a Senate committee on Tuesday.
But even if the proposal receives approval from the full Legislature, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Congress would both have to act for the changes to occur.
The Senate Community Affairs Committee voted in favor of the proposal (SB 858), which seeks to put Panhandle counties in the same time zone as the rest of the state and for Florida to observe daylight-saving time all year. Much of the Panhandle is now in the Central time zone, while the rest of the state is in the Eastern time zone.
Sen. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican who is sponsoring the proposal, initially sought to have the state exempted from daylight-saving time and observe standard time throughout the year. But an amendment Tuesday moved the bill closer to a House version (HB 1013), which seeks year-round daylight-saving time.
Steube said his proposal originated when visiting a barber, who complained that having to set clocks back an hour in the fall had a negative impact on children and it’s “kind of created a life of its own.”
“If you look at statistics on when people typically shop, they typically shop during the daytime. Because some people aren’t real comfortable going to the mall, going to shops, when it’s dark outside,” Steube said. “I’ve heard from mayors from all across the state because they’re going to save money on softball fields because it will stay light later in the day.”
Daylight-saving time occurs between 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November of each year.
A Senate staff analysis noted that there would be “indeterminate” and “insignificant” costs tied to the change as people would have to reprogram computers and other electronic devices so the automatic change of clocks wouldn’t occur each spring and fall.
Under the bill, dubbed the “Sunshine Protection Act,” the U.S. transportation secretary would have to initiate rulemaking to redesignate the portions of Florida that currently lie within the Central time zone to the Eastern time zone. Congress would have to approve legislation to allow the state to remain under year-round daylight-saving time.
Steube’s proposal must still go before the Senate Commerce and Tourism and Rules committees.
The House version, which doesn’t include putting the Panhandle counties into the same time zone as the rest of the state, is scheduled to make its first appearance before the House Local, Federal and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Wednesday.