Whether you love daylight savings time or detest the idea, it may now be being made into a law.
Daylight savings time is the practice of advancing clocks during warmer months so that darkness seemingly falls later. For as long as folks can remember, the seasons are marked by the traditional changing of clocks in spring and autumn. But that may soon be a thing of the past in the United States. Earlier this week, the Senate passed legislation that would make bi-annual time adjustment permanent starting in 2023.
According to CNN Politics, The Sunshine Protection Act passed the chamber by unanimous consent. However, to become law the groundbreaking bill still needs to pass the House and be signed by President Joe Biden. If the measure clears Congress and is signed into law, it means no more falling back as autumn approaches. Media outlets reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office for comment on when the House will take up the daylight savings time bill. But no response has been received just yet.
Speaking to CNN, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said he doesn’t have any assurance the House will take it up, but it’s an idea whose time has come. Senator Rubio has been and sponsor of the legislation for quite some time. Just last week he and Democratic Senator Ed Markey wrote a joint op-ed for CNN about the merits of making daylight savings time permanent. The piece suggested the move could improve the nation’s mental health as Americans would have to deal with fewer dark afternoons that contribute to seasonal depression.
Moreover, Senators Rubio and Markey cited several studies describing the harmful effects that daylight savings time can have on the average person’s circadian rhythm and sleep cycle. This can lead to an increased risk of car accidents due to poor concentration and lower cognitive function. The senators cited evidence from a 2020 University of Colorado study showing that accident totals typically increase by 6% in the days after the changing of the clocks.
Daylight savings time began in the United States just over 100 years ago. America followed several other countries that put similar time-changing policies in place to conserve energy and resources while extending the workday. The idea of more sunlight also supported the efforts of soldiers in the First World War. In the decades that followed public opinion about the practice changed. Certain areas of the country even opted to ignore DST until the Uniform Time Act was passed in 1966. The Act established specific days and policies for when the change would take effect. But states could choose to opt-out of the program.
Interestingly, Arizona and Hawaii don’t follow the same pattern of clock changing as the rest of the country. Those states maintain one standard time throughout the year, Newsweek reports. In recent years, other states have passed and debated similar legislation that does away with daylight savings time. Supporters of the move said businesses can benefit from more hours of afternoon and evening sunlight in the autumn and winter months.
The bill has bipartisan backing including several Republican and Democratic cosponsors. “You’ll see it’s an eclectic collection of members of the United States Senate in favor of what we’ve just done,” Rubio told the Senate. “And that’s to pass a bill to make daylight savings time permanent.” Rubio also noted that the bill delays implementation to November 2023, because the transportation industry’s schedules still run on the existing time. They asked for additional months to make the required adjustments.