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On Monday morning, millions of Americans woke up and headed to work, still exhausted from Sunday morning’s time change. On March 13th, clocks in America “sprung forward” an hour to mark the start of daylight saving time, cutting sleep short and leaving everyone feeling jet-lagged. For all 100 United States Senators, this was apparently the final straw.
In an unanimous voice vote on Tuesday, the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, sending it to the US House for consideration. Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of the bill’s sponsors, said ending semi-annual time changes “is an idea whose time has come”.
If passed by the House and signed into law, the Sunshine Protection Act would make daylight saving time permanent.
So what exactly would that mean for Americans across the country?
Essentially, the time schedule the nation is on between March and November would remain in place throughout the year. That means the days of setting the clocks back an hour in the fall and reversing course in the Spring would end.
Making daylight saving permanent would mean darker mornings, but brighter evenings
For the morning people of America, this could be grim news. On December 21, the shortest day of the year, the sun wouldn’t rise in Miami until 8:03am. In Minneapolis, daylight wouldn’t greet the morning until 8:48am.
The shifts means morning commutes to work and school would almost certainly be dark in the winter.
For most Americans, however, the issue with winter currently isn’t the late mornings, it’s the early nights. According to the American Psychiatric Association, one in twenty Americans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a type of depression caused by fewer hours of sunlight in the winter months. Some experts hope making daylight saving time permanent could help ease these effects.
Should the Sunshine Protection Act become law, evenings on December 21st would be a brighter for longer. In Miami, rather than the sun setting at 5:35pm, daylight would last until 6:35pm. And in Minneapolis, instead of night beginning at just 4:34pm, residents could bask in the balmy Minnesota sunlight until 5:34pm.
Even if the bill passes the House and is signed by President Biden, it won’t go into effect until November 2023. The White House has not said whether President Biden is in favor of the bill, but House leaders indicate it has bi-partisan support in the lower chamber.
As Americans re-adjust their sleep cycles once again to the new time, it’s possible that this may be the final winter where the sun sets before the work day ends.