The move follows the passage of a similar measure in the Florida Legislature sponsored by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota.
Responding to legislation that cleared the Florida Legislature last week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has introduced a pair of bills in Congress, one allowing Florida to stay in daylight saving time year-round and the other putting the entire nation on year-round daylight saving time.
Florida lawmakers passed a bill sponsored by state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, that asks Congress to permit the state to maintain daylight saving time all year. Congress currently allows states to opt out of daylight saving time and stay in standard time year-round, but not the other way around.
"Reflecting the will of the Sunshine State, I proudly introduce these bills that would approve Florida’s will and, if made nationally, would also ensure Florida is not out of sync with the rest of the nation," Rubio said in a press release.
Rubio's press release includes a list of benefits from staying in daylight saving time year-round, including increased economic activity, fewer robberies, reduced car crashes, increased physical fitness and even a reduction in childhood obesity.
Steube's legislation stemmed from a conversation with his barber, who complained about how annoying it is to switch between standard time and daylight saving time. The barber has young children and was having trouble getting them up for school after adjusting the clocks by an hour.
Staying in daylight saving time year-round would mean later sunsets in the fall and winter and more opportunities for outdoor recreation. One lawmaker summarized the impact as “lighter, later, longer.”
Steube said he has heard from tourism businesses that would benefit from having more evening daylight time for people to shop. He also has heard from mayors across the state who say the bill would save money by not having to use as much outdoor lighting at municipal athletic fields.
The only opposition, Steube said, has come from those who worry about not having Florida’s clocks in sync with other East Coast states. One of Rubio's bills would solve that by extending year-round daylight saving time nationwide.
Additional concerns have been raised about the idea in recent days, though. Pushing sunset back to a later hour also would make sunrise later in the morning, meaning it would be dark when many people are going to work or school.
"Lawmakers in Florida, of all places, ought to know that year-round daylight saving is not such a bright idea – especially in December and January, when most residents of the Sunshine State won’t see sunrise until about 8 a.m.," wrote author Michael Downing in an article posted on Smithsonian Magazine's website Friday.
Downing goes on to note that in 1974 former President Richard Nixon "forced Floridians and the entire nation into a year-round daylight saving – a vain attempt to stave off an energy crisis and lessen the impact of an OPEC oil embargo. But before the end of the first month of daylight saving that January, eight children died in traffic accidents in Florida, and a spokesperson for Florida’s education department attributed six of those deaths directly to children going to school in darkness. Lesson learned? Apparently not."