Florida lawmakers like daylight saving time, and are pushing through a bill that expresses the intent that it could become the year-round schedule.
But the so-called “Sunshine Protection Act”, which is expected to be heard next by the Senate Rules committee, doesn’t obligate Florida to make the change if Congress decided to allow individual states to choose that path. Currently, states can opt out of the twice-annual clock changes, but only on the side of adopting standard time, which most of the U.S. is currently on.
An analysis by Senate staff of SB 858 says the wording expresses a future intent, but does not require that Florida switch to daylight saving time year-round. Because the Legislature cannot force a future Legislature to act in a certain way, the bill is “a nonbinding declaration of legislative intent.”
Still, this could be the farthest this kind of bill has gotten in recent years in the Florida legislature.
The House passed matching legislation Feb. 14 in a vote of 103 to 11.
The Senate Rules Committee was scheduled to hear the bill on Monday, but delayed it in favor of hearing public comment and debate about new firearm and school safety proposals following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Doughlas High School. The chairwoman said the many bills that were delayed will be scheduled for another committee meeting, although time is running out before the March 9 end of session.
Senate bill sponsor Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, said in a December interview that previous legislation didn’t have proponents in both chambers working to stop the time manipulations that even the CDC said can temporarily disrupt sleep, affect attention to detail and impede the ability to drive.
“The outpouring of response was pretty much the highest of any piece of legislation I’ve filed,” Steube said. “After we fell back in November, I had a number of people who had issues, especially with young children who have to acclimate to the time changes, and I was trying to respond to their concerns.”
Most of the U.S. adheres to daylight saving time between the second Sunday in March when the clocks are moved forward an hour to the first Sunday in November when clocks are moved back an hour.
The extension for daylight saving time to eight months was approved in The Energy Policy Act of 2005 and went into effect in 2007.
Michael Downing, author of the 2006 book “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time,” said there is a growing dissatisfaction with the time changes.
“What it boils down to every time is the cost to individual states, especially in terms of scheduling interstate travel,” Downing said in a November interview. “It’s just really costly to redo plane schedules. All those flights for snowbirds would have to be redone.”
The Senate bill is scheduled to be heard during a 2:30 Rules committee meeting.