The late State Rep. Richard Mangus.
The late State Rep. Richard Mangus.


SOUTH BEND - The U.S. Senate just did something that the Indiana General Assembly couldn’t do in a century of legislative disputes over how to set the clocks.
     
The Senate gave unanimous approval for a time bill. Unanimous approval for putting the nation permanently on daylight saving time. No changing clocks to spring ahead and then fall back. No concern about some northern areas experiencing pitch darkness until about 9 a.m. on some winter mornings.
     
In the long Indiana legislative history of battling over where to locate time zones and if or when to observe daylight saving time, a unanimous vote was as likely as unanimous approval of a resolution urging victory for either IU or Purdue in their Old Oaken Bucket football game.
     
Indiana lawmakers often were split over time bills right down to adornment. Actually, back in Hoosier history, a split once continued in the Indiana House after adjournment. A filibuster prevented a vote on a time bill until the official midnight deadline to adjourn the session. But proponents of the bill moved back the hands of the official clock in the chamber. And the bill passed in early morning hours, with the official clock saying it really wasn’t too late. 
     
The Senate unanimous? It’s another case of the official record showing something not exactly real.
     
The sponsor of the bill pulled a fast one on fast time.
     
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., lead sponsor, called for discharge of the bill from the Senate Commerce Committee, which hadn’t approved it. He asked for unanimous consent that his substitute version be agreed to and that the proposal be considered read a third time and passed.
     
No senator objected. Thus, it passed in a slick move that took an estimated 14 seconds. No hearings. No debate. No roll call vote.
     
Seems that most senators, including opponents of the bill, didn’t know what was happening. Or if some of those on the floor had come across a notice of the sponsor’s intent to seek discharge of the bill, they thought somebody was ready to object to unanimous consent and force a regular route toward consideration.
      
Rubio knew he had a quick shot at quick approval, with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a bill supporter, then presiding. He moved quickly. So did Sinema. Without pause, she ruled: “Without objection, so ordered.” She then raised her fists in celebration.
     
So, there it was. A bipartisan move by senators from two states with public support for the bill.
     
Florida, “the “Sunshine State,” has some lengthy daylight even in winter and no concern of it being dark really late in winter mornings. Arizona, one of two states not observing daylight time, now is out of whack with TV schedules and commercial dealings with other states half of the year. The bill lets Arizona keep its present time and avoid any clock moving problems with other states.
     
The time bill now goes to the House, where its fate is uncertain. 
     
Hoosiers will be split again on whether to have year-round daylight saving time. But the Indiana legislature will have no voice this time. Congress will decide.
     
Some Hoosiers would like not having to change clocks. Some would dislike it dark until after 8 a.m. in the winter, fearing danger for kids going to school in the dark. Others would welcome more light in late afternoon.
      
South Bend often has been in the middle of time zone disputes, sometimes put in the Central Time Zone, now on Eastern Time.
     
Once in chaotic time history, South Bend and Mishawaka were on different times.
     
The late state Rep. Dick Mangus, R-Lakeville, once offered a satirical compromise: Move clocks ahead a half hour for daylight time. He wanted to make a point about the nonsense in debate. He did. But he got no unanimous vote. Only in the U.S. Senate was that possible.

Colwell is a columnist for the South Bend Tribune.