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Florida weighs seceding from daylight saving time

Linda Robertson, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

MIAMI -- The Sunshine State is on the verge of becoming sunnier -- or at least brighter -- every evening under a proposal to stop the biannual changing of the clocks and switch Florida to daylight saving time year-round.

No more falling back and gaining an hour of sleep in November. No more springing forward and losing an hour of sleep in March. Florida, in keeping with its outlier character, would secede from the national timetable and enjoy extra daylight after the sun sets in the rest of the Eastern Time Zone.

But before you get out the golf clubs or fire up the grill, consider the complications of a permanent move away from standard time. It could play havoc with your TV viewing habits when sports events start an hour later or the New Year's Eve ball-drop in Times Square occurs at 1 a.m. FT -- Florida Time -- instead of midnight. "Saturday Night Live" would be more like "Sunday Morning Live" at 12:30 a.m., and Golden State Warriors games at 11:30 p.m. might mean no more Alec Baldwin sketches or Steph Curry 3-pointers for the bleary-eyed. Airline itineraries could cause headaches when you realize that your 9 a.m. flight from Miami to LaGuardia will arrive at 11 a.m. EST instead of noon. Doing business outside our peninsula? You'll have to recalibrate meeting times and remember that the New York Stock Exchange opens at 10:30 a.m. here.

"The current system has existed for 100 years and is working fine in 70 countries," said David Prerau, author of "Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time." "To change it, you have to make a tradeoff. There are a lot of pros to daylight saving time, but I'm not hearing much discussion in Florida about the cons."

The Florida Legislature has passed a bill called the "Sunshine Protection Act" that would ask Congress to allow the state to stay year-round on daylight saving time, which currently runs nearly eight months of the year, from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. We're set to move our clocks ahead one hour this Sunday.

Two other states got approval to exempt themselves from the 1966 federal law that sets a uniform time and yearly schedule for all time zones. Hawaii, which is three time zones away from the west coast, and Arizona, which aims to lessen the scalding heat of its summers, are on standard time year-round.

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"Staying on standard time is a non-issue here," said Todd Sanders, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. He pointed out that the Navajo Nation switches to daylight saving time every spring. "We feel like we're the constant and the rest of the world moves around us. It helps us manage our energy bills because it cools down earlier. As for air, rail and truck traffic, it's not a factor. We're out of sync with the other mountain states for four months, but people don't really think about it."

The effect of the change in Florida would make sunrise and sunset an hour later. For example, on the shortest day of 2017, the winter solstice of the northern hemisphere on Dec. 21, sunrise was at 7:04 a.m. and sunset was at 5:34 p.m. Under daylight saving time, sunrise would have been at 8:04 a.m. and sunset at 6:34 p.m.

As the winter days lengthen, sunrise would be around 7:30 a.m. and sunset at about 7:30 p.m. under daylight saving time.

Florida joined the rest of the country in a switch to year-round daylight saving time during the energy crisis of 1974, when the federal government mandated a two-year change. But the reaction to dark mornings was negative, especially from Florida, where Gov. Reubin Askew cited an increase in accidents that injured or killed children on their way to school.


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