Q&A of the Day – Daylight Saving Time – Is This the Last Time for Time Changes in Florida?
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
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Today’s Entry: @brianmuddradio I heard you say we have a better chance of stopping time changes with GOP House control. Have you heard anything yet?
Bottom Line: Yeah, so this is the weekend most people least look forward to during the year. It’s one of two times during the year we pretend as a society that there aren’t 24 hours in a day. So, as we “spring forward” at 2am Sunday, losing an hour, will this be the last time? As is usual, especially because I’ve extensively covered this issue over the years, a number of questions have rolled in about what’s happening with proposed changes, why it is we did it in the first place, etc. As suggested in today’s note, I’ve mentioned Republicans having control of the US House, just might make the difference this time around. I’ll start by addressing and answering that question directly. No, I’ve not heard anything from House leadership on this yet. The reason I made the comment originally was based on pragmatism. I’ll explain that rationale in a minute, but first, let’s take a step back and explain how we got here.
The first observed DST was April 30th, 1916, by Germany and Austria. The cited reason was to conserve energy during World War I. Two years later the United States took it up as well. The first DST in the United States took place on March 31st, 1918, also as an effort to conserve energy during the war. After the first World War it was repealed in the United States and didn’t show up again until the 2nd World War. FDR brought it back in 1942 calling it “War Time” and kept it through 1945. The current incarnation of DST was signed into law in 1974 as part of the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act. Clearly the premise was that it would save energy. But the question is if it really works? Here’s the answer.
In 2017, the most comprehensive study of energy savings related to time changes took place. The study utilized data from 44 individual studies and found the average energy savings was...drum roll...0.3%. What’s more is that as we continue to become more energy efficient that number continues to drop. Contrast that with the negative economic impact of the time change, which using JPMorgan data and calculating the impact based on Florida’s economy, suggested we'd lose between $12 to $26 billion annually due to the change. But that was in 2017. Using the Morgan study, and updating it for current economic conditions, the range is now a negative economic impact of $15 to $32 billion. If the argument is an energy/economic argument, it’s now firmly against exiting Daylight Saving Time and that reality will only continue to grow going forward. What’s more, there’s even a health component to it. In the first two days after entering Daylight Saving Time stroke and heart attack risks rise by 10% and the Monday after the time change is the most dangerous day on the roads of the year with a sharp rise in accidents. So about next steps...
In 2017, on the back of the JPMorgan Study, then Governor Rick Scott signed Florida’s Sunshine Protection Act into law which would permanently have left Florida in DST. However, the change also requires Congressional approval to take effect. Senator Marco Rubio began the effort to have the federal government respect Florida’s wishes to permanently remain in DST. Every year starting in 2018, Senator Rubio pushed the Sunshine Protection Act in the United States Senate (joined by Senator Scott starting in 2019 when he joined the senate). Each year it went nowhere. Not even being brought to a vote until last year. After much prodding, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer allowed the Sunshine Protection Act to come to a vote and it passed on a unanimous consent voice vote. Additionally, President Biden appeared to indicate he would be willing to sign it into law if it made it to him, however it never did. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to bring it up for a vote, saying it wasn’t a priority. With a new Congress the process now must start all over – meaning even the Senate must take up another vote.
A week ago, the first step in the process began as Senator Rubio reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act of 2023. So, what might be different this time with the current configuration of government? If Schumer allowed a vote in the Senate last year, and it passed unanimously, why wouldn’t he this year? I mean it’s possible in the grand scheme of petty politics, but he was willing to play ball last year, which suggests there’s at least a reasonable chance this year. As for the House... While the Sunshine Protection Act isn’t a partisan issue, it was never once given a chance in Nancy Pelosi’s Democrat-controlled house. Having different leadership at least provides fresh perspective which could be helpful. Additionally, to the extent politics does factor into the process, given that this is a Florida led effort/priority specifically... Florida retains far more influence nationally in Republican Party circles than it does among Democrats. In fact, the second largest delegation in the House of Representatives is from Florida as we have a record 20 Republican members of the House. Florida has more influence than it’s ever had in Congress. All these facts and changes over last year don’t guarantee an outcome, but it does provide a reason to believe that this year, or perhaps at a minimum this Congress, might be different. Quoting Rubio: This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid. Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support. This Congress, I hope that we can finally get this done. Amen.