Florida probably won’t get permanent Daylight Saving Time. Congress ruined it.

The Florida Legislature approved it this year, but it's been met with steep opposition in Congress.
Redington Shores at sunset, featuring the Redington Long Pier. [Tampa Bay Times file photo]
Redington Shores at sunset, featuring the Redington Long Pier. [Tampa Bay Times file photo]
Published Oct. 31, 2018|Updated Oct. 31, 2018

The switch between Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time each year is miserable.

It messes with our circadian rhythms. Studies show it leads to more heart attacks and strokes and depression.

About the only consolation is that this Sunday, you get to roll back your clock and get an extra hour of sleep — but one study found the change is so disruptive that you'll end up with a net loss of sleep for the week.
Didn't the Florida Legislature get rid of this?

It did, but, like seemingly everything else, Congress ruined it.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee passed a bill in the spring that would make Florida the first state to make Daylight Saving Time year-round, meaning it would enjoy the later sunsets (and later sunrises) 365 days a year. And, of course, you wouldn't have to change your clocks twice a year.

But to make it reality, Congress needed to approve it. And that's where it appears dead in the water.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio happily picked up the Legislature's baton in March, introducing two bills that would make Florida's change permanent.
Both have languished, however, against opposition from broadcasters, parent-teacher organizations and others.

"Just like motherhood and apple pie, who's going to say they don't like it?" said Pat Roberts, president of the Florida Association of Broadcasters, which did not take a position on the state bill. "Unless you stop and go 'Whoa, we don't want to be different from New York and Boston and Atlanta.'"

If Florida shifted an hour ahead of the East Coast for half the year, it would dramatically affect networks and viewers. The 11 o'clock news would be on at midnight. Late-night shows would start at 12:30. And the combination of an aging network audience and later show times would be a blow to stations across the state.

"The finance world isn't too excited about it, either, and neither are the airlines," Roberts added.

If the whole country shifted to permanent daylight saving, the industry would be on board "100 percent."

"But I don't think it's going to happen," Roberts said.

Rubio introduced two bills to get Florida on permanent daylight saving. One would make it permanent around the country. The other would merely allow Florida alone to adopt it.

Neither have been heard in the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, where Rubio's counterpart, Sen. Bill Nelson, is the ranking Democrat.

Where Nelson stands on the bills is unclear. His spokesman did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

But Nelson's opponent in next week's election supports the bills. Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the Legislature's bill into law this year, would vote for at least one of the bills if he replaces Nelson, his spokesman said.

"He'd need to review the federal companion bill fully, but Governor Scott obviously supports the bill he signed," said Scott spokesman Chris Hartline.

If neither bill passes in this Congress, Rubio's spokeswoman says he'll introduce them again next year.

The origins of daylight saving go back 100 years, to World War 1, when the U.S. briefly copied Germany's idea to push back clocks an hour to save money on electricity.

The idea became permanent in 1966, when Congress standardized the "spring forward, fall back" dates and times that we know today. Congress allowed states to opt out of it — and some, like Arizona, did — but it did not allow any states to make daylight saving permanent.

The idea of making the days longer year-round came from state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, who introduced the bill in the Legislature this year after hearing people in his barbershop complain about how the time changes made it tougher to get their kids to school.

The retail and tourism industries immediately supported his idea, with the extra hour of daylight allowing shoppers and visitors to spend more money.

There are other practical benefits. The U.S. Department of Transportation says it prevents traffic crashes, since more people are driving during daylight. A Brookings Institution study says it prevents robberies, since people are no longer leaving work during the dark.

On the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, sunrise in Florida would be at about 8 a.m. and sunset would be at about 6:30 p.m., rather than of 7 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

And, simply, people hate the time changes, according to polls. Russia ended its daylight saving in 2014. On Sunday, Europeans, changed their clocks back to standard time, possibly for the last time.

Steube said he did hear concerns from companies who do business with Alabama and Georgia, since Florida would be ahead by an hour half of the year. And school officials have expressed concerned that children would be going to school in the dark.

But Steube, who's now running for Congress, said he'd rather have the daylight later and longer, and he would introduce a bill in the House of Representatives if elected.

"There's no real reason in today's world that we need it," Steube said.

Times reporter Langston Taylor and Miami Herald reporter Alex Daugherty contributed to this report.