The clock’s stopped for the Sunshine Protection Act – at least for now.
The bill, introduced by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), would make daylight saving time into permanent standard time starting Nov. 5, 2023. It passed the Senate on March 15, but then stalled in the House of Representatives.
It’s not clear how soon the House might vote on the bill. In remarks to the Committee on Energy and Commerce that he chairs, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) said:
“Over the years numerous justifications were made for changing our clocks twice a year, most commonly and notably energy conservation. It was believed that extending light into the evening hours would help consumers pay less for electricity because they would not have to turn on the lights until later in the evening. However, modern luxuries, such as heating, air conditioning, and other appliances have changed that calculation. Furthermore, advancements in LED lighting and other energy efficient appliances are not only saving consumers money but they are virtually making the energy conservation justification moot and outdated.”
How Would It Work?
The legislation calls for abandoning the practice of changing clocks twice a year – springing forward, falling back – in favor of simply giving up an hour of daylight in the morning between November and February.
So, the sun would rise and set an hour later on the winter solstice.
What's the Hangup?
The main issue seems to be the language of the Sunshine Protection Act. Many legislators seem to prefer no more clock changing, but they can’t agree on whether to stick with standard or daylight saving as the new default.
In an interview with The Hill, Pallone said: “And so that’s the problem. We need a consensus that if we’re gonna have one time, what is it? And I haven’t been able to get a consensus on that.”
The conflict isn’t partisan, though. It’s regional. Legislators like Rubio, in a region centered on tourism, tend to favor daylight saving time, while farmers in rural areas might want that extra hour in the morning afforded by standard time.
How Has the Idea Been Received?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) supports eliminating the biannual time changes. But it opposes the Sunshine Protection Act as presented because currently it calls for permanent daylight saving time. The AASM prefers permanent standard time.
According to an AASM news release, “standard time aligns best with human circadian biology and provides distinct benefits for public health and safety.”
The AASM criticized Rubio’s bill and its approval process, saying it “was passed quickly and without opportunity for a legislative hearing or careful consideration.”
The National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS) isn’t taking a stand for or against either standard or daylight saving time.
But the organization’s leaders recognize the opportunity to remind motorists about staying safe on the roads.
President Pat McManamon said that NASDPTS “is hopeful that this legislation will serve as a reminder to motorists to be careful on the roadways whether it is light or dark outside. In addition, motorists should always remember that schoolchildren are also traveling on roadways and their safety requires extra attention.”