Americans turned their clocks back on Sunday, March 10th. Everybody knows that daylight saving time (DST) exists, but not everyone knows why. The main purpose of DST is to make better use of daylight. Clocks are changed during the summer months to move an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening.
Before 1966, laws setting dates for DST were somewhat hazy. The United States officially adopted DST during World War I, but the unpopular law was soon removed. It continued to be observed in some states until World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed temporary DST into law. As before, the law did not continue after the war. That changed in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill calling for DST to begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October each year. The dates were tweaked again twenty years later under President Ronald Reagan, who amended DST to begin at 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and end at 2:00 a.m. on the last Sunday of October. Just about twenty years later, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which is part of the reason why we now “fall back” in November instead of October.
Not everyone in the U.S. observes DST, however. Hawaii and Arizona (excluding residents of the Navajo Nation) do not, nor do American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands. Last year, a Florida bill to nix DST, referred to as the Sunshine Protection Act, passed 33-2 and was approved by the governor. However, by federal law, the state still requires approval from the federal government. To end the confusion, three Florida legislators (Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Vern Buchanan) have reintroduced a federal law, also called the Sunshine Protection Act, to make DST permanent all year. If passed, the legislation would apply to states that participate in DST, which most states observe for eight months out of the year. Last year, the bill failed to advance out of committee. For now, DST is still always the second Sunday in March.