SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns might be able to stop turning back their clocks every year under a bill making daylight saving time permanent that received preliminary approval in the Utah Senate Monday.
“I think it’s time to go move this bill forward and to go through and stop the clocks,” said Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, the sponsor of SB59, claiming local and national surveys show people don’t want to keep making the biannual time change.
Daylight saving time, intended to add an extra hour of daylight in the evening during the longest days of the year, is set to begin in Utah at 2 a.m. on March 8 when clocks “spring forward” and continue through 2 a.m. on Nov. 1, when they “fall back” to standard time.
The bill requires action by Congress and at least four western states before taking effect. Senators voted 28-1 to advance it to a final vote, with only Sen. Don Ipson, R-St. George, head of a trucking company based in southern Utah that operates throughout the Intermountain West, opposed.
Ipson, who has raised concerns about the impact of Utah adopting a different time on interstate businesses like his, said he’d like to see the bill changed to mandate that surrounding states, not just western states, have to make the same choice.
Harper, however, said he likes the bill the way it is written and pointed out that legislation is being considered in New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Idaho. Some western states, including California and Oregon, have already taken action, while Arizona stays on standard time, the only alternative to changing clocks currently allowed.
There are efforts to change that in Congress. U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has a bill allowing states a third option, choosing to stay on daylight saving time year-round, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., wants to mandate a switch to daylight saving time nationwide.
Other issues brought up during the floor debate included worries about students going to school in the dark as days get shorter. Harper said that could serve as an impetus for local school districts to start classes later in the day.
Harper said he appreciated lawmakers’ patience with the issue, which has been raised again and again over the years. Last year, lawmakers passed a resolution on the final day of the session supporting Bishop’s bill that first surfaced in Congress in 2018.
He was jokingly asked that if his bill passed, would it mean an end to time-change related legislation?
“I can guarantee — I can’t control everybody else — I’m done with this issue and we’ll wait for Congress,” Harper said.
While Ipson was the only vote against the bill, four other senators indicated they may change their minds when the bill comes up for a final vote in the Senate. Harper said he still has enough votes to get the bill through the Senate so it can be considered in the House.
“It’s time to put this thing to bed,” Harper said. “I’ve heard from constituents for years they want to resolve the issue.”