Some South Carolina lawmakers are ready to secede on another front: this time from the national daylight saving switch.

Earlier this week, just ahead of Sunday morning's annual turn-the-clocks-forward event, senators endorsed a study into the pros and cons of opting out.

One immediate pro: the sunlight for which South Carolina is so famous could last longer, meaning more time for outdoors. Also, the annual hour of lost sleep would go away.

Cons: the state could be off kilter from her neighbors and the rest of the Union, traditional televised sports broadcasts into our homes would change, and cross-border trips — or even travel up and down the East Coast — would take on a new meaning.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” said state Sen. Harvey Peeler, a dairy farmer, about daylight saving time.

Peeler, R-Gaffney, authored the Senate resolution calling for the study, which the Senate passed Wednesday.

While people joke about the idea, he’s serious about it. “And my constituents get very serious about it two times a year,” he said.

He was quick to add that South Carolina shouldn’t forgo daylight saving on its own. Georgia and North Carolina would have to make the switch, too.

If they don’t, “that’s a deal breaker,” he said.

His proposal asks for the “interstate cooperation committee” to study it.

He suggested a half-hour time change could be a good compromise.

By definition, daylight saving represents a seasonal time change where clocks are set ahead of standard time by one hour. The effect is that the sun rises and sets later on the clock than the day before.

Other nations of the world adopted the habit well before the U.S., which signed on in earnest toward the end of World War I. Studies have since shown the practice saves energy and electrical use, as well as other benefits.

Two states, Hawaii and most of Arizona, are exempt from the Uniform Time Act of 1966, the law cementing the present control of the nation's clocks.

The effect of the change is noticeable across most of the country and will be again following this weekend's roll forward. The National Safety Council issued an alert to employers that "your workers may be especially tired on Monday."

Some states have already steamed ahead. The Florida state Senate on Thursday passed their own "Sunshine Protection Act" doing away with the clock changing.

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The bill now heads to Gov. Rick Scott who, even if he signs it, would still need support from Congress for the measure to become a reality.

Still, other South Carolina lawmakers have latched onto the idea of not making a time switch. 

Sen. Sean Bennett, R-Summerville, jokingly said his wife liked the proposal so much, she wanted to vote for Peeler, and when Bennett told her she couldn’t, she quipped she’d be willing to move to Peeler’s district to do so.

Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter, suggested the Senate clerk add Bennett as a co-sponsor for the sake of his marriage.  

The Senate isn't the only body watching the clock. In the House, Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, filed a proposal in November – a few days after clocks rolled back an hour – that would ask voters on this November’s ballots whether the state should quit observing daylight saving time.

As another option, Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Simpsonville, proposed in January that the state spring forward an hour this Sunday and never go back.

Both of those proposals would require approval by both chambers. Neither has gotten a vote. 

Meanwhile, Peeler sees another pro to the time drop: churches won't be as empty, since he's sure houses of worship will be missing some people who forget they lose an hour Sunday.

Seanna Adcox contributed to this report.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.

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