- March 14, 2018
Now that the clocks have been turned to daylight saving time, some residents of Lakewood Ranch are hoping it will soon stay that way.
That depends on whether the Sunshine Protection Act gains traction in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I’m for it,” Lakewood Ranch’s Rachael Park said of the bill. “I just never understood why we have to go back and forth.”
On March 8, Congressman Vern Buchanan, who represents the 16th District and is responsible for introducing the bill in the House, visited San Marco Plaza in Lakewood Ranch to speak in favor of the bill.
In 2017, Florida’s Legislature passed a bill to end the twice-a-year time shift, but even though that bill was signed into law in 2018, it can’t go into effect unless Congress repeals the Uniform Time Act. The Sunshine Protection Act would do it, but so far has only passed in the Senate (2022).
Buchanan said the Sunshine Protection Act would offer both economic and health benefits.
“The two big parts of this are tourism and how (time change) impacts everybody’s health,” Buchanan said at the press conference.
He said more daylight hours in the evening would be “a big deal” for tourism, especially outdoor dining. He also said research has shown that not having the time changes would reduce car crashes because daylight saving time better aligns with rush hours. It also would cut energy usage and lead to fewer robberies. He also said additional daylight in the evening was important for farmers, who were supportive of the legislation.
He said he hopes Sen. Marco Rubio, who introduced the companion legislation that passed in the Senate, will keep up the momentum in the Senate, while he said Congressman Gus Bilirakis, who is on the subcommittee overseeing the bill, spoke with him yesterday, and as a result, he hopes a hearing will be scheduled in the near future.
While Buchanan said he was hopeful that a Republican majority in the House would lead to the bill being passed, he said it was largely a bipartisan issue.
Brittany Lamont, leader of Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, said she was grateful for Buchanan’s introduction of the bill.
“People come to the Sunshine State as tourists to experience our beautiful beaches, our outdoor amenities, so to be able to have that consistency and give them another hour of daylight, it is only going to continue to help our business community prosper,” she said.
“I don’t like to give up on things,” Buchanan said. “This is the right thing, especially for Florida. I think for a lot of states there are probably some questions about it. But for Florida, to me, it’s a no-brainer.”
Buchanan said while he preferred permanent daylight saving time over permanent standard time, either option would be better than the current situation.
Jennifer Bencie, the health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County, spoke at the press conference and said there would be significant health benefits to extending daylight saving time.
She said an extra hour of light at the end of the day could help prevent obesity and diabetes by allowing for more activities outdoors and reducing stress and lowering blood pressure.
She said a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that an extra hour of evening daylight increases walking by 62% and bicycle riding by 38%. She said children exercise more during daylight saving time, and adults spend substantially more time engaged in walking, cycling and other recreational activities, including pickleball.
More vitamin D from more sunlight would result in healthier bones, while the body also produces more melatonin, which allows us to sleep better, Bencie said.
No matter which side they favored, residents were direct when asked about the issue.
“(Time changes) are the stupidest thing on Earth,” said University Park’s Jim Haugh. “I am so sick of the health problems it gives to people. It’s totally unnecessary. That’s the state of America. We can’t even get rid of the penny.”
Troy Landwehr and Julie Perrino said staying permanently on daylight saving time would be beneficial.
“When you get out of work in the Northeast at 4:35 p.m. and it’s pitch black, it’s not healthy,” Landwehr said.
However, he said children needing the light to walk to school in the morning is a concern.
Arbor Grande’s Sheila Sullivan said she would like to stay permanently on daylight saving time, as the schedule change causes problems for her dogs, Ellie May and Molly.
“They’re wondering, ‘Where’s dinner? When is walk time?” she said.
Lakewood Ranch’s Ricardo Van Erven said he was in favor of leaving the current system in place and Lakewood Ranch’s Tom Jiang said it’s not that complicated to change clocks twice a year.
He does have to adjust a clock for his furnace, as well as his car’s clock.
But Lakewood Ranch’s Erynn Arnold said she would rather not deal with the change in time.
She is in favor of the additional daylight in the evenings, as it would give children more daylight hours to exercise after school.