Senate Passes Sunshine Protection Act to Make Daylight Saving Time Permanent


Josh Klopp, Editor

Falling back one hour in the Fall may be a tradition of the past. On Tuesday, March 15, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent. The Sunshine Protection Act still needs to pass Congress and be signed by the president in order to cement later winter sunrises across the nation. If this happens, Americans would move their clocks ahead in March 2023, and keep them there indefinitely. The biyearly grumblings about changing clocks would seize, but is this good thing? The answer probably depends on where you live.

From the end of World War II to 1966, when the Uniform Time Act was passed, States were free to follow whatever time rules they wanted to. This unified time zones, but the entire nation was brought together by the Emergency Daylight Saving Conservation Act in 1974. This act came in response to a national energy crisis, and its function was to lower demand by making daylight saving time permanent. The same change that is currently being considered. How did it turn out? It was intended to be a two-year trial didn’t even last that long as Congress cut it short to appease the complaints of darkness extending too late into the morning. This same contention is being made today by those who oppose the Sunshine Protection Act. After this failed trial, only two more adjustments have been made. Daylight saving time was extended by five weeks in 1987 with the Extended Daylight Savings Act. The dates we use today were locked into Energy Policy Act in 2007.

No matter where you live in the United States, the Sunshine Protection Act would mean that the sun would rise an hour later from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. This has a different significance for different people. For people in places like Boston, permanent daylight saving time will shift their daylight hours from 7 a.m. – 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. This would appear to be a pleasant change for 9-5ers and school children; however, the change would be less than ideal for a lot of people. According to, the city of Minneapolis’ latest sunrise would be at 8:51 a.m. This fact undoubtedly turns people off from the Sunshine Protection Act. It is not hard to sympathize with those who rely on sunlight to get their day jumpstarted. The sun comes even later for others. In Indianapolis, the sun already does not rise until after 8 a.m. around the winter solstice during standard time. Permanent daylight saving would have their sunrises coming after 9 a.m. In Bismarck, the sun would not rise before 9:30 a.m.

Another large factor to consider is the potential health risks of permanent daylight time. Studies have shown that daylight saving time can have adverse effects on our health. Increased risk of strokes and heart attacks have been shown in these studies. There are also reported changes in atrial fibrillation, which is a common cause of irregular heartbeat. Dr. Joanne Skaggs, a medical professional at the University of Oklahoma, believes that there are positive and negative effects of permanent daylight savings. “In the medical world, we find that that’s actually associated with increased cardiovascular risk… you’re more likely to be admitted to the hospital and you’re more likely to visit the emergency room,” Dr. Skaggs said. Apart from heart risks, the physical and mental effects of a change in circadian rhythm are also of concern. Dr. Skaggs added, “We sort of assume that daylight saving time brings more sunlight and it can in a way. So, it shifts it to later in the day. That’s not necessarily a good thing for our bodies. Light and dark they are very powerful cues for us they help us know when we’re supposed to be asleep or alert.” These effects do not apply to everyone and you can adjust to relieve these effects, but they are still very real and worth noting.

There is no clear winner in the debate between brighter evenings and less clock changes versus brighter morning and healthier sleeping patterns. Maybe it is for the best that the decision lies in the hands of Congress and President Joe Biden. Either way, America will remain divided by the highly contested question of what we should do with our clocks.