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Politics

Backroom Briefing: Daylight Savings Isn't a Congressional Priority

March 29, 2018 - 11:15am

Florida’s push for year-round daylight-saving time may have a difficult time in Congress, as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio says federal lawmakers haven’t lined up in any typical partisan fashion.

Rubio, who is sponsoring the proposal in the Senate, said he’s gotten positive and negative reaction, but the split does not fall along “ideological lines.”

“I don’t think there’s any wrong or right answer, this is not a moral question,” the Miami-Dade Republican said Tuesday while meeting with reporters in Tallahassee. “Basically, it’s if you want it to get darker later or earlier. And it depends who you are. If your (children) are young, you don’t want them in the dark at the bus stop.  If you like to play outdoors or go fishing in the morning, while it’s still dark, you’re in favor.”

Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation (HB 1013) last week aimed at putting Florida on year-round daylight-saving time, but such a change requires congressional approval.

Rubio submitted a pair of bills (S. 2537 and S. 2536) this month --- one would keep Florida on daylight-saving time, while the other would make such a change for the nation. He said he was reflecting the will of state legislators.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., filed the House companion bills (H.R. 5279 and H.R. 5278).

“No matter what we do, I wish we were on one time the whole year,” Rubio added. “That would make it a lot easier.”

The idea of year-round daylight-saving time has been promoted as a way to help Florida’s tourism industry, as people would be able to stay out later with the additional sunlight. Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t participate in switching from standard time to daylight-saving time and back. They stay on standard time throughout the year.            

Daylight-saving time this year started March 11 and ends Nov. 4.

A news release from Rubio’s office when he filed his bills pointed to several potential benefits from the change, including that additional daylight in evenings could reduce car crashes, help lead to more physical activity that would reduce childhood obesity and reduce the number of robberies.

But the Florida PTA Legislative Committee has opposed the change due to the potential impact on students, who could be waiting more at dark bus stops in the morning.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday noted it has received numerous inquiries regarding the legislation and sent out an explainer to members.

As part of a summary, the chamber said, “Here’s the key takeaway: despite all the rhetoric, changes are not imminent and are, in fact, very unlikely to occur anytime soon.”

RUBIO ON THE SENATE RACE

Rubio said he won’t campaign against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, his Florida Democratic counterpart, as Nelson runs for re-election this year.

But that doesn’t mean Rubio will abandon Scott, who is the likely Republican challenger to Nelson.

“Bill Nelson and I have a very good working relationship,” said Rubio, who described his working relationship with Scott as “positive” on issues that align.

“I will support the Republican nominee, who, if Rick Scott runs, it will be him,” Rubio said. “And I think he’d do a good job if he was a senator. And it’s not an indictment on Bill. I couldn’t ask for a better partner. Especially from the other party. But come election time, I want my party to win. Just like he wants his party to win. I don’t have anything negative to say about him (Nelson). But I clearly want to have more Republicans in the Senate.”

Scott will make a Facebook announcement on April 9 that is expected to be his formal entry into the Senate contest.

SCOTT AND APRIL 9

While there’s little doubt about what Scott may be up to on April 9, here’s another hint.

After Scott tweeted Monday that a big announcement was coming April 9, state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a close political ally of the governor, tweeted out a #TriviaTime comment.

“Interesting date, @ScottforFlorida. What happened on April 9, 2010?” Patronis tweeted.

Answer: April 9, 2010 is when Scott filed his initial paperwork to run for governor. He also put $2 million of his own money into the contest that day. Another $71.2 million of his family money would follow.

‘AMAZING OPPORTUNITY’

Jackie Schutz Zeckman, Scott’s now former chief of staff who resigned Sunday to pursue “other opportunities,” submitted an extremely brief resignation letter.

“Governor Scott, Effective today, 3/25/18, I resign as chief of staff. It has been an absolute honor to serve in the Governor’s office as your communications director and chief of staff. Thank you for this amazing opportunity!” Schutz Zeckman wrote.

Schutz Zeckman, who has been with Scott since his first year in office, rising to chief of staff last spring, left the administration once before. For seven months in 2014, Schutz Zeckman served as deputy communications director for Rick Scott for Florida, the governor’s re-election effort.

TWEET OF THE WEEK: “Join me the morning of April 9th on Facebook Live, as I make a big announcement.” --- Gov. Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida).


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