The Sunshine Protection Act, unanimously passed by the Senate earlier this year, would eliminate seasonal clock changes and make daylight saving time permanent

What is the Sunshine Protection Act And Where Does it Stand? The Latest Update as Congress Returns

In early November, clocks fell back and reverted to standard time, ending the period of daylight saving time that begins in Mid-March of each year. However, that could potentially change as daylight saving time may become permanent in the future.

Under legislation unanimously passed by the Senate earlier this year, known as the Sunshine Protection Act, the seasonal changing of clocks would effectively be eliminated in the U.S., except for Hawaii and parts of Arizona.

Despite passage in the Senate, the bill has stalled in the House, where it remains in a committee to this day. Following Thanksgiving, lawmakers returned to Washington D.C. Monday where they’re facing a packed agenda to complete before year’s end, including passing a bill by Dec. 16 to avert a possible government shutdown.

With legislators focusing on other items, it’s unlikely the House will vote on the act before the session wraps up.

Overall, thoughts on the potential shift vary.

The Sunshine Protection Act was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who suggested it would reduce crime, encourage kids to play outside and lower the risk of heart attacks and car accidents.

“There’s some strong science behind it that is now showing and making people aware of the harm that clock-switching has,” Rubio said on the Senate floor in March, NBC News reported.

A 2020 study found that fatal traffic accidents in the U.S. rose 6% in the week after daylight saving started. Other studies have found that the switch to daylight saving brings small increases in workplace injuries and medical errors in the days following the change. A 2019 study, meanwhile, found that the risk of heart attacks went up in the week after clocks sprung forward, though other research did not find such an increase.

The research overall is mixed, however, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine supports the opposite switch to permanent standard time, as research shows that bodies function best with more sunlight in the morning.

“I have received calls from constituents who prefer permanent standard time because they have safety concerns for children who have to wait too long in the dark during winter for the school bus,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, of Illinois’ 9th Congressional District and a Democratic member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where the bill currently sits.

Schakowsky said she has also heard from constituents who prefer longer daylight hours and as a result support permanent daylight saving time.

While the congresswoman said there does not seem to be a consensus among voters, she stated “we know that the majority of Americans do not want to keep switching the clocks back and forth.”

According to the AASM, which is based in Illinois, standard time may be more aligned with our body’s internal clock.

“The daily cycle of natural light and darkness is the most powerful timing cue to synchronize our body’s internal clock,” AASM says. “When we receive more light in the morning and darkness in the evening, our bodies and nature are better aligned, making it easier to wake up for our daily activities and easier to fall asleep at night. Daylight saving time disrupts our internal clock, leading to sleep loss and poor sleep quality, which in turn lead to negative health consequences.”

“More populous cities would be impacted by darker mornings as well – with permanent daylight saving time, sunrise wouldn’t occur until 8:20 a.m. in New York City in January. In Los Angeles, sunrise in January would be at almost 8 a.m., and in Minneapolis, sunrise would be at nearly 9 a.m.”

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