Florida Senators Pitch Daylight Saving Time Pause

September 17, 2020by Chris Cioffi, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)
Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have introduced a bill that would postpone clocks from "falling back" one hour until November of 2021. (Dreamstime/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Florida Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott want to make sure there is plenty of time for wasting away again in Margaritaville in the sunlight this winter.

If they get their way, revelers in Key West, Florida, where Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band conceived of the mythical Margaritaville, will get to nibble on sponge cake and watch the sun bake one more hour — hopefully in a socially distant manner in this age of coronavirus pandemic protocols.

The pair introduced a bill that was placed on the Senate calendar Wednesday that would postpone clocks from “falling back” one hour until November of 2021. That would also mean clocks would not “spring forward” one hour in March of 2021.

Rubio is a previous backer of national, permanent daylight saving time. He said in a statement that the government “has asked a lot of the American people” during the pandemic and that his and Scott’s proposal “is just one small step we can take to help ease the burden.”

Rubio said extra daylight after school hours “is critical to helping families and children endure this challenging school year.”

Rubio told reporters Wednesday that support for the bill is “growing.”

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said Wednesday at the Capitol that he has not read the bill, which was a surprise when it was added to the calendar.

Scott told reporters he believes the move could also allow for outside diners to eat in the daylight. Many restaurants have expanded their outdoor seating, adapting to the patchwork of jurisdiction rules on limiting indoor dining in an effort to keep people from transmitting the coronavirus indoors.

The Florida senators’ release also pointed to studies that have shown benefits to year-round daylight saving time, such as fewer car crashes and reduced energy usage.

The needs for standard time zones and daylight saving time in the U.S. dates back to the late 1800s, when the railroad system created a need for standard times so trains arrived when they were expected to.

Current law dictates that daylight time should apply from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November, unless jurisdictions opt out.

Two states, Hawaii and Arizona, opted to go the other way, not observing daylight time at all, according to Vox. Why allow the blazing Arizona sun to stay up an hour closer to bedtime in summer, an AZcentral article mused.

Since its inception, the country has experienced two periods of time when Americans didn’t turn their clocks back through the winter. Clocks didn’t change during a period dubbed “War Time” between 1942 and 1945 and during the oil embargo of 1973, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

At least 39 states proposed legislation that would change observance of daylight time, although most proposals have not passed, the report said. Washington, Tennessee and Florida have passed such legislation.

Scott said he is “hopeful” legislation can get enacted before the sun sets on the 116th Congress — and hopefully before Nov. 1, when those clocks are scheduled to roll back.

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Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report.

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©2020 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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