A proposed bill moving through the Florida Senate would move the state’s westernmost counties from the central time zone to the eastern time zone, placing all of Florida in eastern time.
Currently, nine Florida counties — Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, and Calhoun — as well as the northern part of Gulf County are located within the central time zone, while the rest of Florida is on eastern time.
SB 858, dubbed the “Sunshine Protection Act,” would also move the state to year-round observation of daylight savings time if Congress changes the law to allow it. Under current federal law, states can opt out of daylight savings time, but can’t choose to observe it year-round.
Sponsored by Sarasota Rep. Greg Steube, a Republican, the bill was approved by the Senate’s Community Affairs Committee on Tuesday. The proposal must also win approval from the Commerce and Tourism Committee as well as the Rules Committee before making it to the Senate floor.
A further kink: the proposal’s companion bill in the Florida House includes only the year-round daylight savings time language, and not the time zone switch. If both pass, a conference committee would have to reconcile the differences in the bills.