The bipartisan Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, which intends to make Daylight Saving Time permanent in 2023, was unanimously passed by the Senate last Wednesday.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced the bill on March 9, 2021 with the support of Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, among others. The senators claimed the bill will help reduce car crashes, childhood obesity, the frequency of robberies and energy usage along with other promises, per a one-pager released by the lawmakers.
“I am proud to have co-authored the provision of the 2005 law that extended Daylight Saving Time by several weeks, and I am now proud to sponsor the Sunshine Protection Act to add an extra hour of sunshine for the full 365 days a year,” Markey wrote in a March 12, 2021 press release.
DST first began in the United States during World War I to conserve energy. Markey, along with Rep. Fred Upton, amended the Uniform Time Act of 1996 to extend the duration of DST as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
The change saw the start date of DST move from the first Sunday in April to the second Sunday in March and the end date changed from the last Sunday in October to the first Sunday in November.
“My first impressions are I think it’s a positive thing, in general, to have the day feel a little bit longer,” Emily Ashman, a resident of Lunenburg, Mass., said.
If the bill is passed, Massachusetts, on the shortest day of the year, will see the sunrise at 8:10 a.m. and sunset at 5:14 p.m.
Rubio and Markey argue that the later sunset time will help with tackling seasonal depression.
“I think that it definitely lifts that end-of-winter depressive state that everyone’s feeling,” Ashman said. “People are a lot happier and getting outside. I think we all need that.”
Harvard graduate Jasmine Parmley said it is often “annoying” to recalculate the time difference when calling family members in Japan following the time change caused by DST.
“I think it would be nice for it to be consistent with a lot of the rest of the world,” Parmley said.
Currently, fewer than 40 countries in the world implement some form of seasonal time switch, according to Statista.com. This means U.S. residents with international ties have to calculate time differences to account for the U.S. “springing forward” or “falling back.”
According to research from the American Psychological Association, individuals receive 40 minutes less sleep on the first day of DST compared to other nights of the year.
Parmley said the change in time doesn’t impact her circadian rhythm.
“Living in a city, or living in a suburban area where there are street lights, there are ways for it to be light later in the day,” she said.
The Sunshine Protection Act would keep the time change at the “spring forward” time for all U.S. states except Arizona and Hawaii, which do not observe DST.
“It affects my children more than it does me because my body just gets up automatically,” Crystal Ramirez, a Californian visiting Boston, said. “As an adult, I can tend to it better than my children can.”
The bill will move to the House of Representatives for a final debate and vote.
“It’s time we tell Congress to lighten up and pass this bill,” Markey said in a March 11 press release.