Florida could soon be unified under one time zone.
An amendment to a state bill (SB 585) that seeks year-round observance of daylight saving time, or ‘spring forward’ time, would ask Congress to authorize the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow the entire state to observe Eastern Standard Time.
In Florida, Central Standard Time observance begins at the Apalachicola River and extends west encompassing Panama City and Pensacola. The rest of state observes EST.
With the amendment adopted, the bill cleared the Senate Committee on Community Affairs on Tuesday. As it stands the bill would require two acts from Congress. One to change rules to allow states to observe daylight saving time year-round. The other to initiate a DOT rulemaking process to allow the whole state to observe EST.
The sponsor of the bill, Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube, said Congress will be notified of the state’s intent should SB 858 be passed and signed into law.
When asked how the state could benefit from a unified time zone, Steube said it would help out businesses in the Panhandle.
“Having talked to people who do business out there, it’s actually a real challenge to figure out what time they have to be in Pensacola from Tallahassee and that sort of thing,” Steube said.
Once the amendment was adopted, Steube testified on the bill as a whole. He said the idea for the bill came from people in his barbershop who said their kids had difficulty switching between standard time (‘fall back’) and daylight saving time.
When asked what benefits year-round daylight saving would bring to the state Steube said it would aid owners of tourism shops.
“Because it’s getting darker later, (tourism shops) can’t keep their shops open as long,” Steube said. He said there are statistics showing people are more comfortable shopping in daylight.
Miami Republican Rep. Jeanette Nunez is pushing a year-round daylight saving time bill (HB 1013) in the House, though that bill does not provide the time zone switch for the Panhandle.