Bill to make daylight saving time permanent reintroduced in Congress
(NEXSTAR) – After hitting a brick wall in the House last year, a bill to make daylight saving time permanent in the U.S. has been reintroduced in the Senate.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who introduced the Sunshine Protection Act last year, filed a bill on Wednesday that would make daylight saving time permanent. So far, the bill, the Sunshine Protection Act of 2023, has bipartisan support in the Senate, and has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
“This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid,” Rubio said in a statement Thursday morning. “Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support. This Congress, I hope that we can finally get this done.”
The new Sunshine Protection Act is similar to the bill introduced last year. If passed, the clocks would change for the final time later this month — when daylight saving time begins — and not change them again in November, or ever again.
Doing so would also mean we would lose an hour of daylight in the morning from November through February. For example, the sun typically rises around 7:15 a.m. and sets around 4:30 p.m. on the first day of winter in New York City. Permanent daylight saving time would change sunrise to 8:15 a.m. and sunset to 5:30 p.m.
Though the previous Sunshine Protection Act passed unanimously in the Senate, it wasn’t as well-received in the House. At the time, some lawmakers argued other matters were more important or asked for additional research into and discussion regarding the bill.
Others expressed concerns regarding the impact changing the clock — or not changing the clock — could have on areas that rely on tourism or those with large farming communities.
The U.S. has observed daylight saving time since 1918, according to the University of Colorado Boulder, but it was repealed in 1919 because it was, at first, a wartime measure. In 1942, during World War II, daylight saving time was reinstated but it wasn’t until 1966 when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act that the bi-annual clock-changing became the norm.
A short time later, the U.S. tried observing daylight saving time permanently as a way to combat a national energy crisis in late 1973. Though Americans thought highly of the plan at the time, it quickly became unfavorable as parents began worrying about traffic accidents and the safety of their children, who were now going to school before the sun came up. By the fall of 1974, then-President Gerald Ford had signed a bill to put the U.S. back on standard time for four months.
More recently, many states have been trying to stop the twice-a-year changing of the clocks. Those that have passed legislation regarding daylight saving time are now in limbo waiting for Congressional action. Two states, Hawaii and Arizona, don’t observe the time change at all.
It isn’t just lawmakers hoping to stop this practice. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recently called for the U.S. to ditch the tradition and instead stay on permanent standard time. That would mean changing the clocks for the final time in November, when daylight saving time ends, and remaining on that time.
In a statement, Jennifer Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist and president of the AASM, said permanent standard time “is the best option for our health and well-being.”
It’s unclear what fortune awaits Rubio’s new Sunshine Protection Act.
Senators already supporting the bill include James Lankford (R-OK), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).
This year, daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on the morning of March 12.
Alix Martichoux and Jeremy Tanner contributed to this report.
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