Senators make another run at making daylight saving time permanent

Americans will turn the clock forward this weekend, costing us an hour of sleep, but a group of lawmakers wants to make this the last time we ever have to change our clocks.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida’s two U.S. senators joined others across the country in another attempt to make daylight saving time permanent across the country, reintroducing the Sunshine Protection Act.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, both Florida Republicans, joined Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) in introducing the law, which is needed allow a law passed by the Florida legislature in 2018 law to actually go into effect.

Florida isn’t the only state that has passed similar laws or resolutions. The Georgia Legislature just passed the measure and Arkansas, Alabama, California, Delaware, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming have similar laws, resolutions or voter initiatives. 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.

“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.”

Scott was governor when Florida’s measure was signed into law.

“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 March 2019, Rubio re-introduced the Sunshine Protection Act, legislation that would make daylight saving time permanent across the country.

Reasons advocates cite for making daylight saving time permanent:

  • Reduces car crashes and car accidents involving pedestrians: better aligning daylight hours to drivers’ standard work hours increases visibility, according to the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Safety Research. Also reduces the number of vehicle collisions with wildlife by 8 to 11% by shifting normal traffic patterns to an hour off from nocturnal wildlife’s behavior.
  • Reduces risk for cardiac issues, stroke and seasonal depression.
  • Reduces the number of robberies by 27%, according to a 2015 Brookings Institution because of additional daylight in the evenings.
  • Benefits the economy, according to a study by JP Morgan Chase, which found that there is a drop in economic activity of 2.2% to 4.9% when clocks move back.
  • Reduces childhood obesity and increases physical fitness, according to studies published by the International Journal Behavioral, Nutrition and Physical Activity and the Journal of Physical, Activity and Health, children see an increase in physical activity during daylight saving time. The Journal of Environmental Psychology found that DST increased pedestrian activity by 62% and cyclists activity by 38% because of additional daylight.
  • Benefits the agricultural economy, which is disproportionately disrupted by biannual changes in time by upsetting the synergy between farmers’ schedules and their supply chain partners.
  • Reduces energy usage, a 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that during the four weeks the U.S. extended daylight savings from the 2005 law, there were savings of about 0.5% in electricity per day. Later studies have also shown that the energy savings are minimal but a small saving does occur.

This year, daylight saving time begins Sunday and lasts until Nov. 7 -- unless the federal law is passed and signed by President Joe Biden.