Florida Legislature moves forward with statewide daylight saving time change

By Jonathan Stacey - Meteorologist, The News Service of Florida

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - The clock is ticking for lawmakers to decide if this will be the last year Floridians spring forward and fall back when the time changes across the country.

The state Senate Rules Committee sent the Sunshine Protection Act to the floor Thursday without opposition in hopes of giving Floridians more daylight at the end of the day all year long. 

The changes could boost tourism dollars across the state at places like Adventure Landing in Jacksonville Beach, where construction crews are working hard putting the final touches on the water park's newest attractions.

“The weather has been so beautiful, especially in February. We are nice and warm, so let’s hope it stays that way in March [so we can] have this open by spring break," said Wendy Leaptrott, manager at Adventure Landing. 

Opening day at the park is March 16, only five days after most Americans spring forward into daylight saving time, giving us all more sunshine as the day comes to a close. If Florida legislators have their way, this will be one of the final times Floridians will have to adjust their clocks. 

Currently, the country is in daylight standard time, but next Sunday, Americans set our clocks ahead an hour, putting us in daylight saving time until the first Sunday in November. 

The Sunshine Protection Act -- or Senate Bill 858 -- effectively does away with that maneuver. 

If the bill becomes law, the entire state of Florida would remain on daylight saving time, giving Floridians an extra hour of sunlight all year long. 

“That would be amazing because more people would want to come into the water parks, seeing that the daylight is still going on. It brings more guests to our facility," said Leaptrott.

Many lawmakers believe more guests would bring revenue and would provide another boost to the state’s tourism industry. 

But the state Senate is up against the clock as the legislative session is set to end Thursday.

If the Legislature passes the bill and Gov. Rick Scott signs it, it will then have to be approved by Congress. 

If the measure overcomes all these hurdles, the Sunshine Protection Act would go into effect next year. 

The Senate bill also requires that the western portion of the Panhandle switch from Central to Eastern time, matching the rest of the state. 

Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the only states that don’t switch between daylight saving and standard time. 

In February, the Florida House overwhelmingly approved a separate proposal aimed at observing daylight saving time year-round in the state.

House members voted 103-11 to support the measure (HB 1013), filed by Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, and Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers.

 

 

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