US Senate Unanimously Agrees on Permanent Daylight Saving Time Plan

On 15th March 2022, the US Senate passed legislation aimed at making Daylight Saving Time permanent, leaving the country in the "spring forward" state from 2023.

The one-page "Sunshine Protection Act," co-sponsored by Sens. Marc Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), is now cleared for a vote in the House of Representatives after passing by unanimous consent in the Senate. Assuming the permanent daylight savings bill gets through the House of Representatives along with a nod from President Joe Biden, the change could happen from the end of 2023. It would reverse the Calder Act's introduction of a twice-a-year clock-change process in 1918, along with its eventual reinforcement by the Uniform Time Act of 1966.

This would mean that the clocks and timetables are permanently in the "spring forward" state of DST beginning in 2023, with the exception of states that had previously established specific time-change rules based on issues like different time zones in the same state.

The practice of changing the clocks twice a year in the US dates back to the agrarian heyday of the early 1900s. Clocks go forward an hour at the start of the year ("Spring forward") and go back towards the end ("Fall back"), a process that creates its own biannual chaos.

DST's original cited purpose, to conserve energy based on how much sunlight is available in a given season, may not be as applicable to a modern and electricity-driven world.

While there are arguments for and against the change (there might be fewer car crashes, but equally children might have to spend longer traipsing to school in the dark, and so on), the IT world is pondering the possibility of a mini-restart of the Y2K gravy train that paid for so many consultants' Ferraris as the 1990s drew to a close. 

But in 2007 when the US tweaked its DST calendar, the results didn't wreak Y2K-like havoc as feared. The change came in an era when both consumer- and enterprise-grade computers weren't as likely to have a permanent online connection and thus get constant updates that range from security databases to full-blown OS updates.

Today, however, the connected nature of many services should, if programmed correctly, mean that a straightforward update will do the trick. For many, it should be a simple case of grabbing the IANA tz database when updated and reconfiguring against it. 

Certainly, time zones have presented a headache for engineers over the years and while lawmakers have tinkered with the system since its first introduction, society today is considerably more digital. There will, however, be outliers and complexities but there is still a year left for preparation and updates.