Proposed ‘Sunshine Bill’ Would Keep the Sun Shining Later All Year Round

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    It’s one of the things many Floridians grumble about every year. Just in time for the holiday season, the clocks turn back and everyone is dumped into darkness shortly after leaving work each day. For early risers, the loss of Daylight Savings Time (DST) each November 1st is welcomed, but many in the traditional 9-5 work force hate it. This legislative session, one Democrat from Broward County – Representative Kristen Jacobs – has introduced House Bill 893 – that would change all of that by keeping the Sunshine State in the sunshine year-round.

    Jacob’s bill is the House companion to Senate Bill 1098 – the ‘Sunshine Protection Act’ filed by state Sen. Darren Soto of Kissimmee. Co-sponsoring HB 983 is Key Largo Democrat Holly Raschein.

    “Why do we still have this in our modern-day society?” Raschein said last week of the twice-yearly shift between Eastern Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time. “I think Florida would be fine with an extra hour of daylight — we’re the Sunshine State.”

    This year, DST begins on March 8th and lasts until November 1st.

    Federal law only gives individual states the right to stay on standard time year-round, not DST. Only Hawaii and most of Arizona have opted to do so. That hasn’t stopped states from rebelling however – according to the Time Zone Report – in 2015, 21 states across the country filed some kind of proposal seeking either to make DST permanent or to abolish it altogether.

    DST was originally adopted back in 1918-1919 as a way to conserve energy during World War I. Congress reinstated it during WWII, and passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966 to get all states on the same page – setting the last Sunday of April as the beginning of DST and the last Sunday of October as the end. The start time was moved up twice – first, in 1986, to the first Sunday in April and then, in 2007, DST was extended to be from the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November.

    In Florida, proponents of the bills – which will be considered during this legislative session – say they will help tourism and save on energy costs. Opponents say more light in the evening will be dangerous to kids who will have to wait at bus stops in the dark and that it would make Florida out of sync with the rest of the East Coast for five months of the year.

    This isn’t the first time Florida legislators have attempted to change the way our state deals with time. In 2008, state Sen. Bill Posey proposed a bill that would have eliminated DST in Florida and kept it on standard time instead. It made some headway in the state Senate, but ultimately lawmakers decided they liked that extra hour of sunlight in the afternoon during the summer months.

    In 2014, a Central Florida Democrat – introduced a bill similar to this year’s. That bill ended up dying in committee in May of that year. Another one died in committee last year.

    Subtropical territories including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas also ignore DST. If the bill passed, Florida would be the only state that uses DST year-round.

    Keri Hendry Weeg