GUEST EDITORIAL: Don’t waste time pulling Florida off Daylight Saving Time

Note to readers: Opinion Page Editor Jim Sutton is enjoying a scheduled vacation this week. In his absence, The Record will feature editorials from newspapers around the state and nation. The following editorial first appeared this week in the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale).

 

Twice a year, we get nagging reminders to change our clocks, once for Daylight Saving Time and once to return to standard time. Without question, it’s a hassle. There are the clocks to change on our stoves, by our bedsides, in our cars, on walls, in classrooms, offices and in gyms. Not to mention the ever-challenging digital watches.

Inevitably, some clock-keepers are real laggards on springing forward and falling back. Thank goodness mobile phones and computers are better minders, updating as they should.

Despite the hassle, all but two states still abide by Daylight Saving Time, and so should Florida. It’s just not worth it to join Arizona and Hawaii in holding out against Daylight Saving Time.

Yet, Florida Republican Sen. Greg Steube of Sarasota wants to exempt Florida, leaving us the only state east Rockies operating year-round on standard time.

Given today’s politics, it’s not surprising there is an alternative proposal from the Republican ranks, too. Miami Rep. Jeanette Nuñez has filed a daylight bill to do the opposite and make DST permanent — if Congress OKs it first.

This is the more reasonable of the two, only because it keeps the nation united.

Our crazy quilt nation has plenty of divisions, and the last thing needed are more states bolting away to live by their own time keeping. The whole idea of Eastern Standard Time, Central Standard Time, et al, is “standard.” Something that keeps a bunch of us on similar clocks. It eases travel and phone conference calls.

The pro and con sides on DST are passionate folks. The longer daylight hours in the summer allow more time for summertime fun, from sports to shopping to al fresco dining. So it’s possible there is an economic argument for longer daylight hours.

The more pressing issue is the safety one, concerning kids getting on school buses in dark mornings. Without standard time, the winter-time morning buses would be arriving in even darker hours, not a good thing for kids.

So, while the twice annual clock fiddling is a pain, it’s what most of the nation still manages.

Last year another measure called for Florida to permanently switch to daylight saving time, but it died in committee. This bill proposes to go into effect on New Year’s Day 2019, if Gov. Rick Scott signed it.

Just to show that time keeping isn’t just a Republican issue, back in 2015 a Democrat wanted to put Florida on DST all year. State Rep. Kristin Jacobs, a Broward County Democrat, cleverly called her bill the Sunshine Protection Act, arguing that darkness shouldn’t fall before most 9-to-5 workers left work at the end of the day.

Now Nunez has picked up on that language for a year-round DST bill. As her bill states:

WHEREAS, the State of Florida is known as the “Sunshine State,” and WHEREAS, as the “Sunshine State,” Florida should be kept sunny year-round, NOW, THEREFORE, Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: Section 1. (1) This section may be cited as the “Sunshine Protection Act.” But only if the U.S. Congress authorizes all states to observe daylight saving time year-round.”

Nunez has pushed up the effective date of her bid to July 1, 2018. Apparently she has more faith in Congress acting quickly than most of us.

For now, unless Congress sees fit to move the whole nation to a single system, we say leave well enough alone. There are plenty more pressing issues that could use more legislative attention.

The inconvenience of changing clocks and watches pales in comparison to the challenge of stopping rising sea waters, or improving public education, to name just two.

So our advice to lawmakers is to stick to the hard stuff and stay in time sync with most of the nation.

 

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