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  1. Florida Politics

Year-round daylight saving time? A longshot, but one Florida lawmaker is trying

Jon Shawkey packs it in for the afternoon after taking tourists out on a paddle board tour of the North Shore waterfront in St. Petersburg on Dec. 20, 2013. The sunlight fades early after the end of daylight saving time. [LARA CERRI | Times]
Published Dec. 10, 2015

Early November. Florida fall is finally settling in. The breeze is back, the humidity is fading. (Well, usually.) The idea of being outside longer than 45 seconds actually sounds appealing.

A walk to the park after work, perhaps? A bike ride along the bay? Maybe even a mid-week sunset stroll on the beach?

Fat chance.

When October expires and the country turns its clocks back an hour, darkness falls over Tampa Bay at 5:30 p.m., about the same time kids are finishing homework and after school snacks and their parents are getting home from work.

It's cruel, really, to suffer through summer only to have the sunlight snatched away just as the weather turns nice.

Rep. Kristin Jacobs wants to do something about it.

Last week, the freshman lawmaker and Democrat from Coconut Creek, proposed the "Sunshine Protection Act," a bill that would make daylight saving time the way of life in Florida all year long.

"It always drives me crazy every year when the time changes," Jacobs said.

She's not alone. Parents of small children hate the disruption to already delicate bedtime routines. Health experts say more exposure to sunshine encourages exercise and improves our overall health. There are fewer traffic accidents, and businesses benefit too.

"Yes please," one woman wrote on Facebook in response to Jacobs' bill. "Please please please please do this already!!!!!!!" wrote another.

(To be sure, opinions are fierce on the other side too. Just ask the mom of any 8-year-old waiting for a school bus under a black sky.)

The bill appears to have little chance of becoming law. No companion bill has been filed in the senate.

Jacobs is undeterred.

"Everyone feels it's the machine and we can't change it," Jacobs said. "Go figure. We can change it."

She isn't the first Florida lawmaker to propose the idea. In 2013, Sen. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat, proposed a bill by the same name. At the time, he said he had little hope the bill would get passed that year, but he wanted to start a discussion about daylight saving time.

And five years before Soto, Sen. Bill Posey, R-Melbourne, proposed a bill to end Florida's participation in daylight saving time.

It seems in Florida, the semi-annual clock changing, exhaustion-inducing, generally discombobulating ritual has always been controversial.

Jacobs insists the positives outweigh the negatives.

"It's the ability to keep our sunshine at the end of the day, when we're most active, when we're leaving work, when we have to take our kids places," she said.

We are the Sunshine State, after all.

Contact Katie Mettler at kmettler@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3446. Follow @kemettler.

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