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Guest opinion: Time’s up for daylight saving time

It is time for “fall back” to retire, and it is time for a spring without a “spring forward”

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Changing our clocks twice a year is an accident of history that didn’t make much sense at the time and makes no sense now. In the early 1900s a group of department store CEOs thought they could get more people to come shop at their stores if there was an extra hour of daylight in the evenings. They decided they would have better success in lobbying Congress if they said the change was necessary for the farmers. Their request to change the clocks to a different schedule in the summer initially did not have success, but then World War I came along, and when the Germans changed their clocks to a later summer schedule to increase manufacturing output, the United States and England felt compelled to follow suit.

It is not clear that the idea made any improvements in manufacturing at the time, and it is certainly clear 100 years later that changing our clocks twice a year does not bring us any benefit. Every fall we have a week of gloom in getting used to it being already dark when we leave work, and in the spring, a week of trying to recover from a missed hour of sleep. Europe is planning to discontinue the changing of their clocks, joining China, India, Russia, and most of South America, so by the end of 2021 the United States will be the only major population center in the world to continue with this unnecessary practice.  

Currently, federal law allows states to stay permanently on the Standard (winter) time schedule (one more hour of light in the mornings, one less in the evenings) or to change back and forth between that and Daylight (summer) time schedule (one more hour of light in the evenings, one less in the mornings). It does not allow for states to just stay permanently on the summer schedule. National polling on various occasions has showed that a strong majority of Americans would prefer to stop changing the clocks every year, and if asked their preference between the Standard and Daylight schedules, a strong majority prefer the summer (more light in the evening) schedule.

In the last few years, many state legislatures have discussed the issue and several have passed legislation to the effect that their state wants to move permanently to the summer time schedule as soon as Congress will allow it. Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Tennessee have all passed some version of this idea. Some states in the Northeast are trying to move one time zone to the east into the Atlantic Time zone so they can have the effects of being on Daylight Time without having to change the law. Most states (understandably) do not want to be out of sync with their neighbors, so many have also made their change contingent on whether other nearby states also agree to make the change.

As a result of these state efforts, some initial efforts in Congress have also begun. Sen. Marco Rubio has introduced a bill that would move the entire nation to the Daylight time schedule, and Congressman Rob Bishop has introduced the Daylight Act, which would allow individual states the option of moving to the summer time schedule. Currently, neither of these bills has been able to get a hearing in their committee — and they likely will not get a hearing until they are able to get more support from co-sponsors from other states.

It is time to add Utah to the list of states on record as wanting to move to the Daylight time schedule and stop changing our clocks twice every year. This next session, a bill will be introduced to the Utah Legislature that moves Utah permanently to the summer schedule. The change would take effect as soon as Congress allows this, and five other Western states also agree to make the move. In communicating with legislators in other neighboring Western states, it is clear that they also have momentum to pursue similarly worded legislation.

It is time for “fall back” to retire, and it is time for a spring without a “spring forward.”

Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, and Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, are members of the Utah Legislature.