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Florida Considers Permanent Daylight Saving Time


Speaking of time, most of us took part in the annual rite of springing forward today, moving our clocks to daylight saving time. A lost hour of sleep is the price we pay for an extra hour of sunlight in the evenings. And I don't know about you, but I'm feeling the pain this morning. In Florida, though, there's a movement afoot to never fall back to standard time. That's right. Florida lawmakers have passed a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent. As NPR's Laurel Wamsley reports, the Florida bill is the latest effort to get daylight right where we want it.

LAUREL WAMSLEY, BYLINE: It's called the Sunshine Protection Act, and its backers in Florida say it will relieve the burden of changing sleep schedules, save money on lighting and be a boon for tourism. But though the measure passed easily in the legislature, it's not a done deal, as even its sponsor, House Speaker Jeanette Nunez admits.


JEANETTE NUNEZ: It would literally take an act of Congress, and we all know how that works.

WAMSLEY: Yep, an act of Congress. That's because federal law allows states to opt out of daylight saving time, as in Hawaii and most of Arizona, but not out of standard time. What Florida can do is ask to change its time zone to put Florida on Atlantic Time, the same time zone as Puerto Rico, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia. That would effectively be the same as being in the Eastern time zone with year-round daylight saving time. However, Congress probably isn't keen to add another continental time zone. As it happens, year-round daylight saving time has actually been tried before. In the early '70s, The United States was in the middle of the energy crisis, and President Richard Nixon signed an emergency act implementing daylight saving time for the next two years.


RICHARD NIXON: Tomorrow morning, or earlier if you want to break up the party, you should set your clocks ahead one hour, as most of the mainland United States goes on daylight saving time until October 1975.

WAMSLEY: It did not go well. A number of children were fatally struck by cars in the first few weeks of the experiment, as they headed to school in the darkness. And in October 1974, the measure was repealed. Michael Downing, who wrote a book on daylight saving time, thinks that even if Floridians got what they want from Congress, long winter evenings for golf, softball, and grilling, they probably still wouldn't leave their clocks alone.

MICHAEL DOWNING: I think people really believe it is their God-given right to get more sunlight as the weather gets better. And I suspect if Florida goes ahead to year-round daylight saving, we may see double daylight saving next year in Florida.

WAMSLEY: You hear that, Congress? Double daylight saving time. So it's a slippery slope, but at least it's a sunny one. Laurel Wamsley, NPR News.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: This story incorrectly states that Newfoundland is in the Atlantic time zone. The Canadian province is in fact in the Newfoundland time zone.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.