Hands off our clocks! In a dozen states, daylight saving time is under siege
Published 8:00 am Monday, March 16, 2015
Elected officials in a dozen states are considering legislation to opt out of changing the clocks, either by remaining permanently on daylight saving time or standard time. Standard time is in place from November to mid-March, after which time clocks move one hour ahead to daylight saving time, leaving eight months with later sunrises and sunsets.
Time can be quite a controversial issue. In 2005, then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Republican, suffered some political blowback after he pushed hard for the state to universally adopt daylight saving time. Opponents of daylight saving time say that it causes a major disruption to sleep and that the switch is associated with an increase in workplace accidents and other health risks.
The Uniform Act of 1966 established daylight saving time throughout the United States, but states can opt out, and two already have: Hawaii and (most of) Arizona. Here’s a look at states that are considering opting out or otherwise changing how they observe time:
The state (with the exception of the Navajo Reservation) is permanently on standard time. A Republican state representative has proposed putting the state on daylight saving time year-round instead, but it appears Arizonians like their clocks as they are, and the lawmaker withdrew the bill in January.
This state may very well be on its way to opting out of daylight saving time. Last week the Alaska Senate approved a bill ending daylight saving time, which comes years after a similar, less successful effort. But a group of lawmakers from the southeastern corner of the state voted against the measure.
The Alaska measure was introduced by state Sen. Anna MacKinnon, Republican, who said it’s a health, safety and education issue. Not everyone is so convinced. State Sen. Bert Stedman, Republican, who argued that the change would hurt the state’s economy, said, “I might get a heart attack here debating this issue, but not from changing the time zone.”
The “Sunshine Protection Act” has made a comeback in the Florida Senate, where state Sen. Darren Soto, Democrat, is making his push once again despite saying he doesn’t think the measure will pass this year. The bill would put Florida on daylight saving time year-round, and Soto is said to be more hopeful of its 2016 prospects.
State House Majority Leader Mike Moyle is tired of clocks changing in Idaho. Oh, and for those who still erroneously believe that farmers are to blame, Moyle said he, a farmer himself, objects to the change.
He recently had to withdraw his bill to put Idaho permanently on daylight saving time over legality concerns, the Spokesman-Review reported. He has also tried in the past to get Idaho on standard time year-round.
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, Republican, said he was inspired to introduce a bill to end daylight saving time after seeing laments about the clock change in a newspaper. Then an 80-year-old retiree contacted him, saying she wanted it gone.
“I think it affects everyone’s circadian rhythm. I just don’t think it’s necessary,” resident Marilyn Smith said, the Herald-Review reported. “It’s just a pain. If our lawmakers could do one thing to make us happy, well . . .”
Mitchell’s bill hasn’t gone anywhere yet.
State Rep. Jeff Irwin, Democrat, has introduced a measure that would have the state permanently observe standard time.
The proposal in Missouri would put the decision to the voters. A House committee hearing in Missouri last week took up a constitutional amendment that would ask voters whether to permanently put the state on daylight saving time. If approved, clocks would change one last time in May 2017.
A proposal to keep the state on daylight saving time for good made it through the state Senate’s public affairs committee and is now waiting in the judiciary committee, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
A Senate bill introduced in January would have voters decide whether to abolish daylight saving time by 2021.
As the NBC Dallas affiliate noted about a bill to exempt Texas from daylight saving time: “State Rep. Dan Flynn, Republican, said he proposed House Bill 150 because there is no point in setting clocks ahead.”
A proposal to end daylight saving time is languishing in a state House committee. “The Rules chairman just said there’s other controversies going on and so there may have been lots of different things on the plate,” bill sponsor Rep. Lee Perry, Republican, told the Salt Lake City Fox affiliate.
Washington came to daylight saving time by a razor-thin margin in 1960, when about 51 percent of voters approved a measure to join 14 other states in observing the time switch.
A pair of state House and Senate bills would do away with that ballot measure and put Washington on standard time year-round. Proponents say it will reduce car crashes and heart attacks. The Senate bill died in committee last month.
The House bill faced opposition from a committee chairman, Democratic Rep. Sam Hunt, who killed a similar bill before. The Associated Press described him as “a man who enjoys late summer sunsets.”