Senate passes bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent starting in 2023
The Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent beginning in November 2023, a significant leap forward in the push to ensure an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day all year round.
The bill, known as the Sunshine Protection Act, earned 17 cosponsors from both parties in the upper chamber and was passed by unanimous consent. Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, has long been a proponent of making the clock change permanent and led the push to pass the bill.
Florida GOP senator Marco Rubio, who co-sponsored the bill with Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, said that school districts could consider moving back the start of classes to address concerns about children making their way to school in the dark. “We start school in this country at the worst possible time for adolescents,” Rubio said in the Capitol on Tuesday.
“The good news is if we can get this passed, we don’t have to keep doing this stupidity anymore,” Rubio said on the Senate floor. “Hopefully this is the year that this gets done and, pardon the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come.”
Rubio pointed to research showing that an extra hour of sunlight later in the day leads to reduced crime levels, a decrease in seasonal depression and more time for children to play outside.
“What ends up happening is, especially for these 16 weeks of the year, if you don’t have a park or an outdoor facility with lights, you’re basically shut down around 5 p.m., in some cases 4 or 4:30 p.m.,” he said. “These lights in parks and things like that are expensive, and a lot of communities are resistant to them.”
Daylight Saving Time currently begins the second weekend of March and ends the first weekend of November. The federal government last extended that period by four weeks in 2007. Rubio said his bill delays the change until 2023 to accommodate airlines and other industries who set their schedules far in advance.
The bill passed by the Senate must still be approved by the House and signed by the president to become law. An identical version of the bill has been introduced in the House and was referred to a subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last month. Experts who testified before the subcommittee in a hearing last week urged lawmakers to make the change.
Of course, starting school an hour later is easier said than done — it would mean many parents couldn’t start work until an hour later.
Most senators I spoke to on Tuesday didn’t seem to care whether daylight saving time or standard time was made permanent — they just don’t like adjusting each season. “Just do one or the other,” Michigan Democratic senator Gary Peters told me. “Going back and forth twice a year, to me — it’s just time to have one set of time.” Under the Senate-passed plan, sunrise would occur at 9:11 a.m. on December 21 in Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Simply put, darkness kills. And darkness in the evening is far deadlier than darkness in the morning,” University of Washington professor Steve Calandrillo said. “The evening rush hour is twice as fatal as the morning for various reasons — far more people are on the road, more alcohol is in drivers’ bloodstream, people are hurrying to get home, and more children are enjoying outdoor, unsupervised play.”
The House has not yet passed the measure.