Mar 10, 2023 - News

Florida lawmakers lead fight over daylight saving time

Parkgoers in South Beach watch the sunset by the water.

People gather to watch the sunset in South Pointe Park in Miami Beach. Photo: Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Next week when you clock out of your nine-to-five, you won't be driving home in the darkness and you could even stop by South Pointe Park to catch the sunset.

What's happening: Our clocks will "spring forward" an hour Sunday for daylight saving time, meaning we'll lose an hour of sleep but gain more light later in the day.

  • But a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers — led by a pair of Florida politicians — wants this to be the last time we change our clocks.

Catch up fast: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio reintroduced a bill this month that would make daylight saving time permanent.

  • Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) — who has worked alongside Rubio on the effort since 2018 — introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House.
  • "This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid," Rubio said in a press release. "Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support. This Congress, I hope that we can finally get this done."

Why it matters: Most Americans want to get rid of the twice-a-year time change, according to a 2022 Monmouth University survey, but there is no consensus for whether to stick with standard time or DST.

  • Of those who want to stick with a single year-round time, 44% of respondents prefer to make daylight saving time permanent, while 13% want to stay in standard time with earlier sunsets.

Between the lines: The battle lines in the time-change fight feature unusual combatants, like school groups worried about children waiting in the dark for the bus, and sleep experts who say standard time is more in line with the human circadian rhythm, according to the Washington Post.

  • The American Medical Association last year endorsed making standard time permanent, noting that the switch to DST in March is "associated with significant public health and safety risks" like the increased risk of heart problems, mood disorders and car crashes.

Flashback: Congress actually succeeded in making daylight saving time permanent in 1974, but lawmakers voted to undo it less than a year later after a string of traffic fatalities — including among eight children in Florida.

What we're watching: The bill faces an uphill climb this year, as neither chamber of Congress has a majority supporting it and key congressional leaders whose committees need to review the bill are publicly undecided, according to the Post.

  • The Florida Legislature passed a law in 2018 that would make daylight saving time permanent year round if Congress votes to approve it.

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