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Florida May Stay on Daylight Saving Time Year Round

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The “Sunshine State” is ready to become a whole lot sunnier, at least in the latter part of the day. In light of its criticism and doubt for many decades, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the often-irritating, sometimes confusing Daylight Saving Time in the United States.

This past Sunday, March 11 at 2 a.m., daylight saving time commenced its yearly eight-month course of Daylight Saving Time in which Americans moved their clocks ahead one hour in order to gain an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day. This move characteristically comes as a nuisance to many Americans who often criticize the semiannual shift in time because the “springing ahead” translate to an hour less sleep for many on that Sunday morning. In both March and November, many of us mourn the disturbance of our circadian rhythms which can in turn manipulate our sleep-wake cycles, hormone releases, body temperature and other important bodily functions.

More often than not, these tiresome complaints lead to demands to expunge daylight saving time all in all. But the “Sunshine State” of shining Florida wishes to move in the exact opposite direction: the state legislature has approved a bill to effectively put the state on Daylight Saving Time year round.   This means Florida would not follow the rest of the East Coast in standard time, but rather preserve daylight saving time every single day of the year.

But, why? Lawmakers such as State Senator Greg Steube and State Representatives Heather Fitzenhagen and Jeanette Nuñez hope that by instituting year-round Daylight Saving Time, Florida will experience an improvement in its tourism-based economy, public safety, and mental health.

However, CNN’s Ashley Strickland reports “A 2016 study found that the overall rate for stroke was eight percent higher in the two days after daylight saving time. Cancer victims were 25% more likely to have a stroke during that time, and people older than 65 were 20% more likely to have a stroke.”

But before all this reform and change can occur, the bill, titled the Sunshine Protection Act, must be signed by the governor and reviewed by the United States Congress.  It has already made it through                                                                                                    the Florida Senate. On Tuesday, March 6, the Florida Senate passed the bill three weeks after the Florida House of Representatives, and both the Senate and the House showed overwhelming support for it: 103 to 11 in the House and 33 to 2 in the Senate.  “It took the state Senate less than a minute Tuesday to pass the Sunshine Protection Act,” wrote CNN’s Andrea Diaz. Now Floridians must wait and see if Governor Rick Scott will sign or veto the bill to law.

Yet, one fundamental problem arises: Florida does not have the legal authority to embrace Daylight Saving Time year-round. The federal government oversees America’s time zones in addition to the beginning and ending dates of Daylight Saving Time. States do have the capability to exempt themselves from Daylight Saving Time – as Hawaii and Arizona have done – but there is nothing written in federal law that permits states to exclude themselves from standard time. To be relieved from the Uniform Time Act of 1966, the U.S. Congress must authorize the bill.

Thus, the bill was written provisionally; meaning, it is a matter of an “if” and “then” scenario regarding the legalization of constant Daylight Saving Time. Legislation H.B. 1013 declares, “Daylight saving time shall be the year-round standard time of the entire state and all of its political subdivisions… If the United States Congress amends 15 U.S.C. s. 260a 17 to authorize states to observe daylight saving time year-round.” Because of federal law, it’s the “if” that makes lawmakers fret. While the Florida legislature may have agreed to go to Daylight Saving Time year round, it will ultimately be the U.S. Congress’ decision. With Congress busy dealing with gun control and immigration issues, nothing is likely to happen on the Daylight Saving Time front any time soon.

Problems would arise with such a move, however. One major concern regards children making their way to school in the dark as a result of the change. That is the case currently, but for a much shorter span of time than if Daylight Saving Time would to be implemented year round. “For almost half the school year, it would also mean thousands more children would go to school in the dark,” says Terry Spencer and Gary Fineout of The Washington Post. The Florida PTA therefore opposes this change and is pleading with Scott to veto the bill.

When all’s said and done, it’s highly unlikely Floridians will see any profound change soon. The time change proposal still needs Governor Scott’s approval, and more importantly, the approval of the U.S. Congress. But only one thing we know for certain: only time will tell.

-Staff writer Isabelle Eisenberg contributed to this report.

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Florida May Stay on Daylight Saving Time Year Round