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S. 2537 (115th): Sunshine Protection Act of 2018

Every year we set our clocks forward for eight months, then back for four months, then forward again for eight months, then back for four months. What if we just stayed on the same time all year round?

Context and what the bill does

The legislature in Florida, the third-most populous state, recently approved a bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent — by overwhelming bipartisan majorities of 103–11 in the state House and 33–2 in the state Senate.

The state’s U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Sunshine Protection Act later that same week, which would make Daylight Saving Time permanent throughout the country.

The bill is labelled S. 2537 in the Senate.

A bit about Daylight Saving Time

The U.S. implemented the practice, which sets clocks back an hour in autumn each year and then forward an hour around March, back in 1918 during World War I. It was intended as a (likely temporary) wartime measure, intended to redirect the use of coal-powered energy to the military instead of for home use, by keeping homes lighter for longer and thus not needing lighting.

Currently, the only other states that don’t observe DST are Hawaii and Arizona, although several U.S. territories don’t either. Florida largely lies in Eastern Standard Time, although the northwestern portion of the state which borders Alabama is in Central Standard Time.

Russia switched to permanent DST in 2011, but reversed themselves in 2014due primarily to the unpopularity of such late sunrises during the winter — with most of the country’s populace waking up, getting ready, and commuting to work in complete darkness.

What supporters say

Supporters argue the move would keep the world lighter for longer, causing increased economic activity by allowing outdoor venues to stay open for longer. They also note predict that robberies would fall because most crimes occur at night — according to some estimates, a drop of 7 percent.

Not to mention that the whole concept of Daylight Saving Time is essentially a century-old anachronism that has long since outlived its original purpose.

“Last week, Florida’s legislature overwhelmingly voted for permanent Daylight Saving Time for the State of Florida,” Senate lead sponsor Rubio said in a press release. “Reflecting the will of the Sunshine State, I proudly introduce these bills that would approve Florida’s will and, if made nationally, would also ensure Florida is not out of sync with the rest of the nation.”

What opponents say

Opponents counter that although staying lighter for later is for the most part a good thing, what about the light rising later? “We don’t need more children standing in the dark waiting for a bus,” the Florida Parent Teacher Association Legislative Committee says.

Opponents also note that the original DST purpose of saving energy no longer holds true, as the amount of electronics and air conditioning used by 21st century Americans means that the difference between the status quo and a change would be negligible in terms of energy usage. If that’s the case, the argument goes, then why go through such a massive disruptive change?

Odds of passage

The bill currently has no other cosponsors — not even as of yet Florida’s other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson. However, Nelson expressed a desire for national uniformity, telling the Orlando Sentinel, “Having Florida observe year-round daylight saving time without all 50 states participating would cause all kinds of havoc and confusion for businesses and the public.”

The legislation awaits a possible vote in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Last updated Mar 20, 2018. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 12, 2018.

Sunshine Protection Act of 2018

The bill amends the Uniform Time Act of 1966 to make daylight savings time the new, permanent standard time.

States with areas exempt from daylight savings time may choose the standard time for those areas.