Daylight saving time ends today in Australia. In America they’re debating whether to make it permanent
With Daylight Savings Time officially over today, many Australians are starting the semi-annual tradition of feeling slightly confused and off the clock after the clocks change.
What if we give up the ritual altogether?
DST critics say changing clocks twice a year is bad for our health and can even lead to more car accidents.
Proponents of a permanent winding of clocks claim that it would be prevent accidents, reduce crime and reduce seasonal depression.
The debate is raging in America after the US Senate unexpectedly voted to make daylight saving time permanent from 2023.
Although there are still several hurdles to clear to become law, the Sunshine Protection Act passed the Senate with unanimous consent.
But there is a problem: the bill was passed by accident.
Now Americans are divided between those who want clocks permanently set to daylight saving time, those who want to stay on standard time year-round, and those who want everything to stay the same.
OK, so how does a bill pass the US Senate by accident?
For a legislative chamber often criticized for deadlock, it was surprising that a bill not only passed the US Senate quickly, but passed unanimously.
The bill was sponsored by Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who has espoused DST benefits for much of his career.
While it usually takes months or years for a bill to pass, Senator Rubio used a novel Senate convention called unanimous agreement to get it approved in just 14 seconds.
According to the rules, any senator can rise and seek unanimous consent for a bill, and it is immediately put to a vote.
If a single member of the Senate opposes it, the bill is dead. But this time Senator Rubio was lucky.
While some senators said they were far too busy to worry about, others said they had no idea the bill was even on the floor.
“It’s literally an issue my staff and I had never discussed, and they assumed I don’t really care about DST,” Senator Chris Coons told BuzzFeed News.
Senator Rubio did not apologize for his bet.
“The good news is if we can get this through, we won’t have to keep doing this stupidity anymore,” he said.
“Pardon the pun, but it’s an idea whose time has come.”
What happens to daylight saving time in America now?
Marco Rubio wants the Sunshine Protection Act passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Joe Biden late next year.
This, he claims, would give airlines and rail networks time to adjust their schedules.
If successful, each US state would advance its clock one hour in November 2023.
Sun-drenched Arizona and Hawaii, which never adopted daylight saving time, would remain on standard time.
But the bill is already being met with suspicion in the lower house, especially among members of Congress from the country’s Midwest.
The sun would not rise over Montana, North Dakota, and Michigan until 9:30 a.m. if daylight saving time was observed in the winter.
“How are people going to feel at 7 a.m.? [in winter]when they put their children on the street to catch the school bus, and it’s dark, completely dark?” questioned Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader.
“Anyway, I don’t have strong feelings anyway.
A 2019 poll showed that 70% of Americans favor ending daylight saving time.
Only 30% wanted summer time to be permanent, while 40% preferred winter time.
For everyone, it seems to boil down to one question: are you a morning person who wants sunshine at the start of the day, or do you prefer more hours of daylight at the end of the day?
America’s been here before
Americans have already experimented with permanent daylight saving time.
It turned out that most of them hated him.
In 1974, America was in the throes of an energy crisis, and then-President Richard Nixon decided to conduct an experiment to see if they could reduce fuel consumption.
He ordered permanent daylight saving time for at least two years.
But a few days into the experiment, people started complaining.
“This is the end”, a woman told the New York Times on January 8, 1974.
With American children carrying torches to school and public support for the law dropping from 79% to 42%, the experiment ended a year early.
Senator Rubio insists there would be a simple solution to keep permanent DST popular this time around, but that involves another divisive social issue.
He says America should just start the school day later.
“We are starting school in this country at the worst possible time for teenagers,” he said.