It’s time to end our habit of “springing forward” and “falling back” twice a year, which has been blamed for everything from seasonal depression to robberies. But let’s be honest, the real reason to put a stop to it is that most of us hate the back and forth — resetting our clocks, losing sleep and dealing with shorter afternoons in the winter.

The U.S. needs to put an end this archaic practice that since 1966 has been confusing Americans and messing with our internal clocks. Let’s institute year-long daylight saving time. That means we could perpetually live in “spring forward” mode with later sunsets and more time to exercise or enjoy time outside in the late afternoon.

No need to go back to standard time in the fall, as we did Sunday. No more losing an hour of sleep in the spring.

Needs congressional approval

This is an issue that Republicans and Democrats agree on, but, as with most things involving Congress, a bill to make that happen isn’t going anywhere.

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In 2018, the Florida Legislature passed a bill to make daylight saving time permanent here, and 15 other states, including Georgia and Alabama, have passed similar measures. But states cannot go at it alone; they need congressional approval. Sen. Marco Rubio filed the Sunshine Protection Act in March that would make daylight saving time permanent across the country. States and U.S. territories that don’t currently observe DST, such as Hawaii and parts of Arizona, could stay in Standard Time.

Rubio’s bill has 14 co-sponsors from both parties, including Florida’s other senator, Rick Scott. The U.S. House version has 29 co-sponsors, including U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar of Miami.

If that across-the-aisle support isn’t enough to get a bill through Congress, then what is?

Maybe it’s good ol’ D.C. dysfunction getting in the way or that we’re just too set in our ways. The practice of “spring forward, fall back” dates to World War I and was reinstated during World War II to conserve coal. States and local governments then started individually determining whether and how to observe daylight saving time, so Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966.

Since then, we have learned that energy savings from “springing forward” are actually minimal. That would be an argument to remain in standard time (that’s the time we’re currently in). But we already spend two-thirds of the year in daylight saving time. Not to mention, life is just more pleasant when it’s not pitch dark at 6 p.m.

Economic benefits

Rubio’s office says his legislation would align daylight hours to drivers’ standard work hours, therefore increasing visibility and reducing crashes. The additional hours of sunlight reduce robberies by 27%, according to a Brookings Institute study.

There may be economic benefits as well. A 2016 JP Morgan study found that when DST ended in November, credit card spending in Los Angeles fell 3.5% in the next 30 days. Meanwhile, there was an increase of 0.9% in the 30 days following the start of DST.

There’s also scientific evidence that forwarding our clocks in the spring impacts heart health and disrupts sleep. Anyone who’s woken up in a panic the Monday after the time change can attest to that.

Of course, some groups wouldn’t benefit from a permanent DSL. Some parents worry their children would have to walk to school in the pre-dawn because sunrise would happen an hour later. Farmers don’t like the idea, either, because they would have to do much of their work in the dark. But we still believe the pros outweigh the cons.

The U.S. has gone through periods in which DST was year round. The 1974 Emergency Daylight Saving Time Act, signed by President Nixon, instituted “spring forward” for 16 months to address the country’s energy crisis. It’s doable.

The problem isn’t that Rubio’s proposal is a bad idea. Otherwise, why would so many states back it? The problem is Congress standing in the way. Capitol Hill owes Florida and other states at least a good debate on Rubio’s proposal.

©2021 Miami Herald

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