Daylight savings time (DST) is almost here and that means at 2 a.m. on March 14th, nearly every American can see their clock automatically jump ahead one hour. Of course, if you still have a VCR or other non-smart device, you’ll have to change the time yourself. But even with modern technology, a lot of people just don’t like that clocks change twice a year. It’s so aggravating, in fact, that they’re committed to reforming daylight savings time, state-by-state.
History of Daylight Savings
Most people blame farmers for DST. The belief was that back when a larger percentage of the American population was tilling the land, farmers could work longer if there was an extra hour of daylight. In truth, farmers did not like DST one bit and the industry lobbied against it.
Setting clocks ahead one hour originated in 1916 in Germany to conserve fuel. America adopted the practice two years later in 1918. When World War I ended, the U.S. went back to standard time. And that part is thanks to the agriculture industry, according to AGAmerica.com. Farmers fought against DST for about five decades. They eventually lost the battle and the country began the twice-yearly practice of changing clocks. But the goal was always the same: Longer days meant we could conserve more fuel. However, now that we’ve had several decades to crunch the numbers, many experts say that it doesn’t really conserve that much fuel after all. And there are other drawbacks affiliated with changing clocks back or ahead one hour.
A few reasons for adopting a single standard time year round
- The loss of sleep from setting clocks ahead an hour has a lot of disadvantages, from increasing auto accidents to causing headaches the following Monday.
- Productivity drops the day after daylight savings starts.
- If you commit a crime and your sentencing hearing is scheduled for the Monday after daylight savings, consider asking your attorney to request a new court date. One study found that judges hand out harsher punishments — about 5 percent longer — on that day.
- Around the world stock market returns are lower than average the day after clocks change.
Spring Forward, Fall Back
Choosing to adopt or do away with daylight savings — outside of passing legislation about it — is out of states’ hands. In other words, states can vote on opting out of the twice yearly time changes, but they can’t actually enact the law until it’s approved by Congress. That has only happened once.
In 1966, along with the rest of the country, Arizona adopted the Uniform Time Act and in March of that year, citizens set their clocks ahead an hour. But the next year, most of the state opted out of the act. Arizona has been on Mountain Standard Time ever since.
As for Hawaii, the state has never participated in the Uniform Time Act. According to Beat of Hawaii, “the concept of daylight savings was, in theory, that it adjusts the time to make use of available natural light. With Hawaii reasonably close to the equator, sunrise and sunset time don’t vary nearly as much as is the case further to the north.”
Reforming Daylight Savings Time State-By-State
Over the past few decades, lawmakers in many states have proposed bills that would adopt Standard or DST year round. Some of that legislation has made it to their respective governor’s desk for a signature. But so far, Congress has not given any one state permission to opt-out of the Uniform Time Act.
Here are some of the states that currently have legislation crawling through House and Senate chambers, and a few waiting for Congress to approve.
Don’t kill time here
In 2018, all but one lawmaker in Alabama agreed to make DST year-round. The sponsor of the bill says the change is better for health, commerce and recreation. According to the resolution, the move will “forever put an end to the deadly, energy-wasting, productivity-killing, twice-yearly changing of time.”
You first! No, you first!
State Representative, Johnny Rye, introduced a bill to make DST permanent. According to KARK.com, he said the people are “tired of two different time frames.” The state seems to like the idea, but the bill stipulates that the law will only go through if some surrounding states (Mississippi, Missouri Louisiana, Oklahoma and Tennessee) also adopt the change.
The state of California has been here more than once — and it’s getting close. Kansen Chu, the assembly member who introduced the DST resolution, says that turning clocks reduces crime. He cited one study stating 25% fewer robberies at night when days are longer. Also, he doesn’t like that losing an hour of sleep when DST starts increases the risk of heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries, according to a press release by Chu’s office.
Time to decide
The state of Colorado observes Mountain Standard Time (MST), except during Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) between March and November. Lawmakers requested an exemption from MDT, which would mean staying on MST year-round. But back in 2011, lawmakers suggested making MST permanent. That effort failed, thanks to the ski industry.
According to VailDaily.com, “extending daylight savings will mean the sun rises as late as 8:30 a.m. some days in December and January, delaying crucial morning operations at ski areas and, ultimately, impacting resorts’ hours.”
Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time
Georgia filed several House and Senate bills, both in support of making DST permanent and requesting an exemption from observing it. One reason to stop messing with the time, according to WJCL.com, Sen. Ben Watson said “grumpy judges impose harsher criminal sentences just after residents spring forward or fall back.”
It appears the Senator is referring to research published in Psychological Science indicating that judges tend to give defendants longer sentences the day after DST, but not when clocks go back to standard time.
If the state can’t scrap DST for good, perhaps they should declare a moratorium on sentencing decisions the next day.
North v. South
Lawmakers made three attempts in 2020 to change how the entire state or part of the state observes time. Southern Idaho is on Mountain Time (MT) while northern Idaho is on Pacific Time. One bill proposed that southern Idaho switch to daylight savings time year-round, which would be them on the same clock as Utah.
Then, lawmakers suggested that if Washington State establishes full-time DST, then parts of northern Idaho shall do the same. This last bill is still winding its way through the legislature.
In recent years, Iowa lawmakers have filed several bills to do away with ending DST and one bill to remain on DST permanently. All of them failed. Those who oppose the bills fear a change could disrupt activities in border communities (Iowa shares borders with Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska).
One state legislator admitted that Iowa won’t be changing these laws anytime soon. According to The Gazette, Rep. Joe Mitchell said, “I think it would be better if we had a clause that said multi-states had to sign-off on [the measure].” Another representative, Mike Sexton, said the federal government should just ended the entire practice across the nation, which is pretty much how this whole thing works.
In 2019, Kansas tried to pass a law to be exempted from observing DST and the very next year, they tried passing a law making Central DST the official time year-round. Both bills failed. Lawmakers who support the bills say they don’t really have a preference which one wins out because they just want to stick with one time across the entire year.
State Rep. Kristey Williams told Kansas.com that she wants to “remove antiquated and harmful policies whenever given the opportunity.” She was specifically referring to efforts to preserve energy during World War I relied on moving clocks up an hour and making daylight last 60 minutes longer.
Ditch the switch
When Louisiana adopted a motion to make DST the official time in 2020, lawmakers cited “significant interest” among constituents. Everyone was delighted to gain more daylight hours in the evening. The state is still waiting for the federal government to approve the request. State Rep., Dodie Horton, said the move is especially popular with the state’s seniors because their loved ones can visit with them longer and they don’t have to drive home in the dark, according to KCRG.com.
Maryland tried to pass a law through to establish DST as the official time year-round, but two attempts failed. State Rep. Brian Crosby believes ending every November DST is an antiquated process. But apparently, a majority of his colleagues disagree.
Lock the Clock Down
The New England state is trying to pass a bill recognizing “Massachusetts Sleep Awareness Week” at the start of DST in March. They also tried to get an exemption from observing DST. Up north, adopting DST full time isn’t a small thing. During the winter, days are very short.
Many constituents admit that the pandemic plays a role in the desire to support DST legislation. According to Bostonmagazine.com, one voter said “covid has upended life for all of us and forced us to rethink how we live our lives. We’re already redesigning everything from work and school to weddings and Halloween. Why not commit now to stay on summer time?”
No time for kidding around
In 2019, Minnesota lawmakers voted down four different DST bills. Three would have created an exemption from observing DST and another established year-round DST. So politicians are obviously just eager to stop changing their clocks twice a year. State Rep. Mike Freiberg says that the time change interferes with his ability to raise his kids. One constituent said that once kids are on a routine, you don’t want to mess it up by setting clocks back or ahead one hour.
After trying to pass a law establishing permanent DST, Mississippi lawmakers tried another tack. They crafted a resolution, the “Sunshine Protection Act,” urging Congress to allow states to enact legislation to do as they please regarding DST. It passed overwhelmingly. Rep. Hank Zuber says year-round DST and longer afternoons will benefit the state’s tourism industry. Of course, the state now needs the federal government’s blessing.
Time waits for 20 other states
Missouri proposed establishing “Daylight Saving as New Standard Time Pact” with any other state interested in participating. The bill proposed that in a year when 19 other states pass daylight savings legislation, that each state will “spring ahead” for the last time. Even if the bill passed (it didn’t), it could take a while for a few dozen additional states to join.
End this back-breaking policy
One Nebraska lawmaker is very worried for the health and safety of his state’s farmers. That’s because changing the clock twice a year “is actually hurting and even killing people,” said Senator Tom Briese. He even consulted with an advocate for doing away with DST who said that wrist injuries go up after springing ahead. According to DST advocate, Scott Yates, “[losing an hour] throws you off just enough that you trip and break your wrist, then that’s a big deal for you.”
It’s about time!
New Jersey lawmakers proposed making eastern daylight time permanent, which would put an end to their long, dark days of winter. This is a bill that state Senator Shirley Turner feels passionately about. According to NJ1015.com, the lawmaker has been proposing legislation to adopt year-round DST every year for the last decade.
Borderline time zone
According to NMPoliticalReport.com, arguing about DST is a nearly annual event for lawmakers in New Mexico. And every year, a new bill proposing an end to changing the clocks twice a year fails to gain a majority of votes. “Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, said the infighting has become so confusing that he prefers keeping New Mexico on its split system,” wrote Milan Simonich from the Sante Fe New Mexican. Lawmakers who oppose the measure say the bill would be bad for businesses located on the US-Mexico border.
Legislators in New York tried passing a slew of bills in 2019 and 2020 regarding DST. State reps wanted to establish DST year-round and call it “Atlantic Time.” They even introduced an amendment to establish a task force to study the effects of discontinuing DST.
We’re sick of this topic
Some Ohio voters aren’t keen on permanently adopting DST because it would mean four months of sunrises at nearly 9 a.m., which means kids would be arriving at school when it’s still dark outside. It prompted one lawmaker, who also happens to be a science teacher, to suggest eliminating DST instead. Cincinnati.com notes that by changing clocks back one hour, it adds 60 minutes of daylight to mornings. But Rep. Mary Lightbody said that arguing over clocks was a waste of time and legislators should be addressing issues concerning covid, instead. Fair point.
Bordering on inconvenient
Oklahoma lawmakers who oppose adopting DST year-round think that eight months of late sunrises are too onerous. On the other hand, by opting out of ending DST in November, citizens then have to deal with early sunsets, which means shorter, darker days. If Oklahoma did manage to enact DST year-round (which they’ve been trying to do), according to Tulsa World, their clocks would be different from their border neighbors and that “creates serious logistical problems.”
Do not pass go
In February, legislators in South Dakota voted on a bill to adopt DST year-round. Thirty-three lawmakers voted for it. So what’s the problem? The same number of legislators voted against it. The bill failed to pass.
The Texas legislature is in session every other year and for the past few sessions some lawmakers have tried to convince the others to pick a time zone and stick with it throughout the year. But no single bill so far has gained enough traction. Back in 2015 Rep. Rafael Anchia explained that if the state ended DST, he would have a pretty big dilemma on his hands. Church and Dallas Cowboy games would start at the same time, according to an interview he gave to the Dallas Morning News. “I don’t want to miss church, and I don’t want to miss the Cowboys. So what am I supposed to do?” Anchia said it would mess up his entire Sunday.
Time to go!
Last year, Utah governor Gary Herbert signed a bill making DST the law of the land. But when November rolled around, Utahns once again fell back in line with the rest of the country. What gives? It’s that coveted Congressional approval from the federal government. Also, Utah’s bill stipulated that four additional western states had to be in on the pact. Right now, only Washington state has a bill waiting for approval by Congress.
There’s a bill circulating now in Vermont’s State House to eliminate DST. If this version of the bill passes (it’s not Vermont’s first go at adopting a standard time year round), it may not need approval from above. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tom Burditt, said changing his clock really throws him off. He told News10.com, “My reason for finally supporting … the bill and bringing it forward are a bit selfish, but the main reason is, it takes me two weeks to adjust after a time change.”
Follow Daylight Savings Reforms
In 2021, there is no indication that Congress is going to take up the issue of daylight savings. With Covid-relief legislation and other pressing issues, it’s just not a priority for lawmakers right now. But that’s not going to stop those who are fighting to “ditch the switch.” If you want to keep up with legislation regarding daylight savings time, check out “#LockTheClock – Stop Changing Clocks for Daylight Saving Time.” Scott Yates, who operates the website, is a tech start-up founder and outspoken advocate for reforming daylight savings time across the country.