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Year-round daylight saving time wins House support

Florida legislators like to tinker with all kinds of things. Even what time it is.

A switch to year-round daylight saving time won overwhelming support from the state House Wednesday.

But you'll still have to reset your clock twice a year.

It's government, so change comes slowly. The time won't change unless the Senate and Gov. Rick Scott agree, and it will take an act of Congress, too.

The House measure, approved by a vote of 103-11, would end one of life's basic rituals: the practice of re-setting clocks twice a year on the second Sunday in March and first Sunday in November.

Instead, Florida would be on daylight saving time permanently, and would be the third state to exempt itself from the spring-forward, fall-back time system.

Hawaii and most of Arizona are on standard time all year.

The bill creates the “Sunshine Protection Act,” but it notes that it can only happen if Congress amends the Uniform Time Act of 1966 to permit states to take such action.

Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, who co-sponsored the bill (HB 1013) with Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, R-Miami, said the change might benefit tourism by giving visitors more sunlight hours.

"Florida is the 'Sunshine State'," Nuñez said. "I've gotten nothing but positive feedback from my constituents."

She cited various studies showing that longer days encourage people to dine out more often and spend more money. In addition, she said, "driving in daylight is safer than driving in the evening."

But Rep. Rick Roth, R-Loxahatchee, who voted no, said the idea makes no sense. A farmer by trade, Roth said that year-round daylight saving time would be bad for him and his workers.

"Do you know what time the sun comes up in December? 7:15," Roth said. "That means 8:15 if we're on daylight saving time. They're going to start working in the fields in the dark? You kidding me? It just doesn't make sense."

Another opponent, Rep. Joe Geller, D-Aventura, said the idea struck him as "something out of a Woody Allen movie: Seven o'clock is now 6 o'clock."

Actually, 8 o'clock.

Daylight saving time means setting clocks ahead an hour.

The solution isn't to switch to daylight saving time, Geller said. "Just wake up earlier," he said.

The Senate version of daylight saving time (SB 858) briefly turned controversial because it would have put all of Florida in the Eastern time zone.

Most of the Northwest Florida Panhandle west of the Apalachicola River is in central time, and residents want to keep it that way.

"We do not like Tallahassee telling us what time it is," Sen. George Gainer, R-Panama City, said earlier this week.

Faced with Gainer's opposition, the bill sponsor, Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, dropped the provision.

Steube said he got the idea of year-round daylight saving time from his local barber, who said he had trouble getting his children up for school when the state switched back to standard time.

Times/Herald staff writers Mary Ellen Klas and Elizabeth Koh contributed to this report.

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Year-round daylight saving time wins House support