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No more time change for Florida?

Ashley Hunter: Greene Publishing, Inc.

“Whereas, the State of Florida is known as the 'Sunshine State', [and] as the 'Sunshine State', Florida should be kept sunny year round,” so reads House Bill 1013 (The Sunshine Protection Act), a bill that passed through both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate with a majority of support from both senators and representatives (in the House, 103 voted yea, 11 voted nay, with six not voting. In the Senate, 33 voted yea and two voted nay, with three, not voting).

HB 1013's intent is to keep Floridians from having to change their clocks again, with March 11, being the last time such a change is required.

According to the bill, Floridian lawmakers propose that the state remain on Daylight Saving Time (DST), rather than 'falling back' into the second time change on Nov. 4. Supporters of the bill proclaim that this act would mean that Floridians would get more daylight hours all year long, rather than having to adjust back to the shorter days that take place during the Nov. 4 time change.

Other arguments in favor of the bill claim that having more hours of daylight in the evenings would mean more time for people to participate in outdoor recreational activities and that longer daylight hours would be better for commerce, as more people will stop and shop after getting off work. The longer daylight hours in the evening may also be an opportunity to save local government money, as sports games won't require lighting, meaning cities and counties won't have to foot the bill.

However, not everyone is in favor of the bill, as it can also be argued that staying on the Daylight Saving Time hours during the autumn and winter months will mean that early morning will stay darker longer and that people who wake up early for work will have to continue rising and leaving when it is dark outside. The new hours might also be difficult for those who work out of state, but live in Florida.

The bill, while passed by Florida lawmakers, has to get the approval of the United States Congress before being enacted. Gov. Rick Scott has only agreed to review the bill and let Congress make the final call.

According to the federal Uniform Time Act of 1966, states are allowed to exempt themselves from daylight saving time, as Arizona and Hawaii have done, but Florida isn't attempting to exempt itself from daylight saving time...but is attempting to remain on the time.

It's a fumble of paperwork at this point since even though Florida is not expressively requesting it, the passage of the bill would align the majority of Florida with Atlantic time, removing it from the Eastern Time zone and the parts of the state which currently follow Central Time would be shifted into Eastern Time. While states are allowed exemption from daylight savings time, they are not allowed to change the time zone they fall into.

“If the United States Congress amends 15 U.S.C. s. 260a to authorize states to observe daylight saving time year round, it is the intent of the Legislature that daylight saving time shall be the year round standard time of the entire state and all of its political subdivisions,” reads HB 1013.

For Congress to approve HB 1013, it would require them to amend the legislature that prevents a state from changing its time zone, and if Congress says no, then HB 1013 dies, since the wording of the bill weighs heavily on the 'if.'

Should Congress approve of the change, then it would take effect on July 1 of this year.

In the House, Madison County's Representative Halsey Beshears voted against HB 1013 and in the Senate, Senator Bill Montford voted in favor of the bill.

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