Florida lawmakers have introduced bills that would unify the entire state under the eastern time zone and eliminate daylight savings time, a move that would cause major time changes for northwest Florida.
The bills (SB 858, HB 1013), known as the “Sunshine Protection Act,” were proposed by Senator Greg Steube of Sarasota to bring the west-most section of the Florida panhandle, including Pensacola and Panama City, from the central time zone to the eastern time zone.
However, a coalition of state senators representing the northwest Florida counties that would make the time jump are strongly opposed to the bill.
“We adamantly oppose any move to change to Eastern time zone,” said Senator Doug Broxson of Pensacola. “We have heard our constituents loud and clear that they want to us to maintain our historical place in the Central time zone.”
“We do not need the state legislation to tell us what time it is. Anything of this magnitude that affects our daily lives should be put to a vote by the people,” said Senator Gainer of Panama City.
Steube says conducting statewide business from Tallahassee in two zones isn’t practical, such as counting election results.
“I have constituents in both time zones and if we look closely at this issue, we might see that it could cause more problems than remembering to reset your watch when you come across the river,” said Senator Montford of Tallahassee.
The act would also dump daylight savings time, the system used by most of the United States to extend daylight hours during the middle portion of the year. Steube argues that daylight savings time leads to losses in economic productivity, health issues, and crime spikes, based on studies on the subject.