As Americans prepare to “spring forward” an hour into daylight saving time this weekend, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators is seeking to do away with the twice yearly clock changes altogether.
Under the “Sunshine Protection Act of 2021,” daylight saving time would be made permanent and the majority of the U.S. — Hawaii and parts of Arizona already don’t observe the time changes — would not have to “fall back” come again November.
The legislation was introduced Tuesday by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, Rick Scott, R-Florida, and Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts.
“The call to end the antiquated practice of clock changing is gaining momentum throughout the nation,” Rubio noted in a news release announcing the bipartisan effort.
So far, 15 states have seen similar laws, resolutions, or voter initiatives approved to make DST permanent, according to the release. Those states are: Arkansas, Alabama, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
In California, for example, voters back in 2018 overwhelmingly passed Proposition 7 in an effort to establish year-round daylight saving time. Since then, however, legislation seeking federal authorization to do so has stalled in the legislature.
And for the states trying to abolish time changes, therein lies the roadblock: the U.S. government. That’s because for the changes to take effect, a federal statute must first be changed — which is precisely what “The Sunshine Protection” seeks to accomplish.
The legislation would put an end to the practice of daylight saving time. It would apply to states that currently observe the approximately eight-month-long daylight saving time period. This year, it begins March 14 and ends Nov. 7.
“Springing forward and falling back year after year only creates unnecessary confusion while harming Americans’ health and our economy,” Wyden said in the release. “Making Daylight Saving permanent would give folks an hour back of sunshine during the winter months when we need it most.”
The U.S. originally enacted DST because of Germany’s effort to conserve fuel in 1916 during World War 1, according to a fact sheet released by Rubio’s office. In 2015, Congress extended the period of time it was observed, from six to eight months.
The country has also gone through periods where daylight saving time was permanent, including from 1942 to 1945, and 1974 to 1975, the fact sheet stated.
While many consider changing clocks and adjusting to the time change a nuisance, studies bear out that it can also have negative consequences on people’s health and well-being.
“Studies have found year-round Daylight Saving Time would improve public health, public safety, and mental health– especially important during this cold and dark COVID winter,” Markey said in the release.
Other potential effects include a decrease in the number of car crashes, which see brief spikes at the start of DST, likely the result of people losing sleep with the loss of an hour, according to research.
Other studies have shown that daylight saving time benefits the economy, lessens energy usage and even reduces the number of robberies, according to the fact sheet.
“The public safety improvements, economic benefits, and the wellbeing of the American people are all excellent and credible reasons to embrace year-long Daylight Saving Time,” Hyde-Smith said in the release.
This isn’t the first time legislation has been introduced to do away with DST, however. Previous versions of the “Sunshine Protection Act” introduced by Rubio were referred to the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, but never received a hearing.
It’s unclear yet whether the Senate will take up the latest legislation.