SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to make daylight saving time permanent in Utah soared through the House Wednesday.
Discussion was lively, with multiple lawmakers cracking jokes about their personal reasons for wanting the change to be made. Final passage was 70-1.
The Legislature has been considering doing away with daylight saving time for years. SB59, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, is the first to pass both bodies.
In a move that sparked the majority of the jokes, Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, proposed a substitute to the bill that would make it “lighter earlier” by keeping Utah on standard time year round.
“When I think about the world there are two kinds of people. There are runners and there are gamers,” Spendlove said to laughter. “The runners like to get up with the sun and the gamers like to stay up until the sun comes up.”
He said that while he agrees with the gamers’ point of view, there are a lot of runners in his district who’d prefer to stick with standard time throughout the year.
Rep. Kyle Anderson, R-North Ogden, said he opposes the substitute and prefers the original version of the bill because of “two words: old people.” Anderson explained that he and his wife once took in his grandfather who suffered from “sundowners.” This meant that he was ready to go to bed as soon as it was dark out — a condition that is particularly prevalent under standard time.
This is a common thing for older people and sticking with standard time would negatively impact them, Anderson added.
Drawing from her experience running last year’s daylight saving time bill, Rep. Marsha Judkins, R-Provo, said the most important thing the state can do is to stop changing the clocks.
Judkins said she’s corresponded with hundreds of people about the issue and found the majority would prefer to have more daylight in the afternoon.
“For a lot of people it doesn’t really matter, but there are a lot of people for whom this really is a difficult, difficult change,” Judkins said. “It’s because of their children, because of their jobs, and because of their medication schedules — a lot of things and it really does affect people in a bad way.”
Sticking with standard time has been considered before and there’s just not support for it, House sponsor Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, said.
Daylight saving time will begin this year at 2 a.m. on March 8 — a change that will add an extra hour of evening daylight to the longest days of the year. Clocks return to standard time Nov. 1.
Despite the bill’s passage, it will still need further action before implementation.
If Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs the legislation, Congress and at least four Western states would still need to take action in order for the bill to take effect.
“We don’t want to move if we are the only state doing this,” Ward said.
Ward noted national momentum behind the move makes this time around different at the Legislature. Thirty-five states have considered bills of this nature within the past two years, he said, seven of which passed.
“When states formally support this change it makes it easier for their national delegation to support the change,” Ward said. We are not trying to go around the federal law. The bill is a vehicle to make that federal change more likely.”
Utah polls also show that the majority of residents are in favor of such a change, Ward said.
“I plead with you to vote for this bill so we don’t ever have to have another daylight saving time bill come up in front of this body, please,” said Rep. Jeff Stenquist, R-Draper, to another chorus of laughter.