Update 1:30 p.m. : The Senate Rules Committee passed the Sunshine Protection Act in an 11-0 vote this morning.
The bill, SB 858, expresses the intent that Florida would stay on daylight saving time year round if allowed by Congress. It can now go to the full Senate for a vote.
It has matching legislation that has already passed the full House.
Previous story: A proposal to keep daylight saving time year-round in Florida is scheduled to be heard by a Senate committee today.
An identical bill has already passed in the full House. The Senate Rules Committee, which meets at 9 a.m., can be watched live here.
The so-called Sunshine Protection Act, SB 858, says the intent of the legislature is to make daylight saving time permanent in Florida if allowed by Congress.
Currently, states can opt out of daylight saving time to stay on standard time, but cannot make daylight saving time permanent.
Whether the current legislature can make law for a future legislature is up for debate, but Senate sponsor Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, said support for the plan is high among the public and lawmakers.
“The outpouring of response was pretty much the highest of any piece of legislation I’ve filed,” Steube said in a December interview. “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.
“The whole proposition that we lose or gain an hour is, at best, philosophical, what are we talking about? And yet we go on talking about it every year,” said Michael Downing, author of the 2006 book “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time” in a 2017 interview.
“We have eight months of it now, so, in reality, it has become our standard time.”
The bill was scheduled to be heard by the Senate Rules Committee on Monday, but was postponed to take public comment and discussion on school safety bills proposed following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
While like-minded daylight saving time bills have been floated in Florida in the past, sponsors this year believe the plan has a chance of passing because there is matching legislation in both chambers.
Steube’s bill, SB 858, is co-sponsored by Debbie Mayfield, R-Melbourne. The House version, HB 1013, was filed jointly by Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami, and Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers.
Time is running out for the bill to pass with session ending March 9.
The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to hear 15 pages of bills today beginning at 9 a.m. The meeting is scheduled for three hours.
The first nationwide daylight saving time law was passed in 1918 as an energy-saving measure during World War I. But it was also supported by Boston-area department store owner Lincoln Filene, who compiled a list of the benefits of daylight saving time, including that “most farm products are better when gathered with dew on.”
“This was news to farmers,” said Downing, who believes the true reason for the 1918 change was that the retail, leisure and sports industry saw benefits to daylight saving time.
Farmers disliked daylight saving time because they needed the sun to dry dew from their crops before they could harvest them and take them to market. But more daylight after work meant more time to shop, play golf and go to baseball games.
By the early 1960s, states and municipalities were allowed to opt in or out of daylight saving time and decide on their own start and stop dates. That led to widespread confusion, with one infamous example of a bus route from West Virginia to Ohio that included seven time changes.
In 1966, Congress approved the Uniform Time Act, which included a standard requirement on daylight saving time. States were allowed to exempt themselves from the requirement as long as the entire state did so.
Today, Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands do not recognize daylight saving time.