Sunshine Protection Act Still Awaits Passing In The House
Photo courtesy of Pasja1000 on Pixabay
Fall’s in full swing, and that means three things: colder weather, pumpkin spice, and adjusting to the biannual tradition of changing our clocks as a result of daylight saving time. However, you may be surprised to learn that this could be the last time we switch back to standard time. The Sunshine Protection Act, which passed the Senate back in March, is a proposed law that could make daylight saving time permanent. Though it still awaits approval from the House and the President before becoming law, it’s important that we reflect upon this law and the discussion that surrounds it.
Daylight saving time was adopted by the United States for 7 months in 1918 in order to conserve energy during World War I. Daylight saving time (called “war time”) was also used year-round for 3 years during World War II. After World War II was over, different states got to choose whether to observe standard time or daylight saving time. This went on until 1966, when congress passed the Uniform Time Act, standardizing the dates that we currently switch to and from daylight saving time. All U.S. States other than Hawaii and Arizona (excluding Navajo Nation) observe daylight saving time (NCSL).
The Sunshine Protection Act, in short, would make daylight saving time (the time generally observed from March through November each year) permanent. This would end the twice-yearly tradition of changing clocks back and forth. The law was first introduced in 2018 by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio but failed to pass. It was reintroduced in 2019 by Representative Vern Buchanan, though it failed once more. It was reintroduced into both the House and the Senate in January and March of 2021 by Buchanan and Rubio respectively. The bill passed the Senate in March, less than a week after it had been introduced, through unanimous consent.
So, why is this bill getting so much support? Well, there are actually a few reasons. First of all, having to change clocks back and forth each year is seen by many as a needless hassle. According to fivethirtyeight.com, a poll conducted in March of this year indicates that only 35% of Americans actually want to continue changing their clocks back and forth from daylight saving time every year. Second, the change brings with it numerous detrimental effects on people’s health and well-being. According to a study performed in 2020, fatal traffic accidents in the United States rose by 6% in the week immediately after daylight saving time started (NBC News). Plus, in a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce committee back in March, Frank Pallone, the committee's chairman, said, "The loss of that one hour of sleep seems to impact us for days afterward. It also can cause havoc on the sleeping patterns of our kids and our pets” (Reuters).
It remains to be seen what decision the House of Representatives will make on the future of this law. All there is left to do is patiently wait for more news on the discussion of this law.