'Florida time' could become reality

Proposal would make daylight saving time permanent

The phrase "on Florida time" could be more than a figure of speech if two state legislators have their way.

Rep. Mark Danish (D-New Tampa) has introduced a bill along with Sen. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) that would put Florida on daylight saving time permanently.

The so-called "spring forward" would become the new standard time for the state as early as this year if voted into law.

"People don't want to be shopping during nighttime and here you're giving them an opportunity where it's still daylight as they come from work," Danish said. The lawmaker said it's an economic advantage for a tourism-driven state like Florida.

Danish also said there are power efficiency advantages that could help businesses save millions of dollars in costs.

But extending the daylight hours also means morning sunlight would arrive later, meaning children waiting at bus stops would likely be in the dark longer.

Jessica Johnson, a mother of two from Lutz, initially liked the idea of keeping daylight later into the evening.

"I have young children and I can't be out late," Johnson said. "Dangerous stuff happens."

But she also was concerned about the amount of time her kids might have to spend in the darkness in the morning.

"That's dangerous, too," she said. "You can't really tell which way would be easier."

Danish said he considered the issue of losing morning light because of the time shift.

"We might have to, in some situations, make some changes to the school time," Danish said. "But also a lot of kids now in middle school who stay for after school programs are going home in the dark."

It's not the first time Florida has considered abolishing time changes during the year, but if approved, the Sunshine State would be the first to adopt daylight saving time year round. Two states, Arizona and Hawaii, have adopted daylight standard time permanently.

Danish hopes the advantages to Florida's economy will help the bill move forward in the upcoming legislative session in Tallahassee.

"The tourist business will have more things happening and people will be able to stay out later," Danish said.  "I think businesses would be helped by it."

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