More States Moving to Keep Daylight Saving Time Permanent

Plus, DST is NOT for Farmers

By Catherine Boeckmann
March 8, 2020
Clock in Grass
M.Vich/Shutterstock

As of this writing, 39 states have proposed legistation and nine states have enacted legislation to provide for year-round daylight saving time, if Congress were to allow such a change. Is it time to scrap this practice? Learn more about the myths of DST (It’s NOT for farmers), the latest news on information on states’ efforts, and weigh in with your thoughts!

It’s a popular myth that Daylight Saving Time is for farmers. This practice—which only became regular in 1966 (which may also surprise you!)—was challenged by farmers and is increasingly being challenged by modern society.

Daylight Saving Time in the 1970s

When I grew up in the 1970s, Daylight Saving Time (DST) seemed popular. The government and schools seemed to promote it as a positive and beneficial force. When the clocks moved forward an hour in March, my mother would get a grumpy me out of bed and say, “Look! All you kids have more time after school to play outside!” (Yes, there was a time when more kids played outside.)

Interestingly, DST wasn’t a regular “thing” until April 12, 1966, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed it into law. The Uniform Time Act established a system of uniform (within each time zone) Daylight Saving Time throughout the U.S. and its possessions. States were allowed to opt out (and some did).

Before then, DST was briefly used during World War I and World War II to conserve fuel—and then there was a short stint during the oil crisis of the early 1970’s under Nixon. (Read more about the checkered history of Daylight Saving Time.)

shutterstock_320805509_full_width.jpg
Photo credit: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Daylight Saving is NOT for Farmers

Despite popular belief, DST has nothing to do with farming. In fact, farmers have often been the strongest lobby against the change. Farmers didn’t like DST when it was first introduced and most don’t like it to this day.

During the first World War I experiment in 1918, farmers were extremely opposed to having to turn back and forward their clocks. Not surprisingly, it disrupted their schedules and made it more difficult to get the most out of hired help.

Imagine telling a dairy cow used to being milked at 5 a.m. that their milking time needs to move back an hour before the milk truck is coming to do a pickup. For the farmer—and the plants and animals—it’s the sun and the seasons that determine the best times to do things.

After the war ended in 1918, the DST law (which lasted 7 months) proved so unpopular with our agrarian society, the federal law was repealed (in 1919). Some state and localities continued the observance, however.

During another war, World War II, “War Time” was enforced by President Franklin D. Roosevelt which introduced year-round Daylight Saving Time from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945. 

From 1945 to 1966, observance of DST was quite inconsistent across U.S. states. There were no uniform rules. This caused massive confusion with the transportation industry and the broadcatsting industry which pushed for standardization. The farmers, however, were still opposed to it.

To address this confusion, the Uniform Time Act was established in 1966.

shutterstock_398925817_full_width.jpg
Photo Credit: Zaccio/Shutterstock

So, Who Benefits From Daylight Saving?

Today, the country has a synchronized Daylight Saving Time schedule. It’s not war time. Why do we continue to change our clocks?

Some constituencies profit:

  • For example, today, we drive our cars everywhere. The lobbying groups for convenience stores know this—and pushed hard for daylight saving time to last as long as possible.
  • Extra daylight means more people shop in retail environments. Outdoor businesses such as golf courses and gardening supply stores report more profit with more daylight hours.  

Does DST really conserve energy? According to Congress, this is the main reason for the switch. When the Energy Policy Act extended the hours in 2007, Congress retained the right to revert back should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings are not significant. 

  • Department of Energy report from 2008 found that the extended DST put in place in 2005 saved about 0.5 percent in total electricity use per day. However, the closer you live to the equator, where the amount of daylight varies little, the amount of electricity actually increased after the clocks were switched.
  • In Indiana, where I live, the change to DST in 2006 actually cost us. Matthew Kotchen, a Yale economist, found a 1 percent increase in electricity use in Indiana. Due to higher electricity bills and more pollution, Indiana’s change ended up costing consumers $9 million per year.
  • Further studies in 2008 showed that Americans use more domestic electricity when they practice daylight saving.

Today, as modern society marches forward, the energy argument may become obsolete. In terms of work, we’re not really a 9 to 5 society any more. Factories have different shifts. Office workers use the internet. Farmers will use daylight hours, no matter what. At home, our electricity demand is no longer based on sunrises and sunsets. We drive instead of walking, which means daylight saving actually increases gasoline use. 

It’s quite possible we are now wasting energy. 

And with computers, TV screens, and air conditioning using more energy, more Americans find switching clocks increasingly unpopular.

shutterstock_318184772_full_width.jpg

Our Bodies, Our Health

Energy isn’t the only thing to be considered. What about our health? Polls show that the switch between Daylight Saving Time and Standard Time each year is miserable for most humans.

Clocks are man-made. Changing the time disrupts our body clocks or circadian rhythm. For most people, the resulting tiredness is more of an inconvenience twice a year. For many folks, however, it’s a more serious issue.

  • Studies show it leads to more car accidents and heart attacks—the latter by as much as 24 percent.
  • Studies link the lack of sleep at the start of DST to workplace injuriessuicide, and miscarriages
  • In the workplace, studies have found that there is a decrease in productivity after the spring transition.
  • What about November when you get an extra hour of sleep? The reality is that most people don’t sleep any extra. And the disruption in the body’s daily sleep-wake cycle can affect sleep for several days.

► See 5 tips to help your body to adjust to Daylight Saving Time.

You could argue it’s better for school children (not going to school in the dark); however, I’d disagree.

  • Teenagers definitely don’t do well with DST during the spring change when they lose an hour of morning sleep.
  • And consider the parents with small children; the kid that gets up a 5 a.m. will now be getting up the equivalent of 4 a.m. Parents will certainly lose sleep and spend weeks adapting twice a year—and studies show that their happiness levels are lower.

farmers-2343262_1280.jpg

A Movement to Elminate Clock Changing

Only Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Nation), Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands don’t spring forward or fall back. 

  • Hawaii abandoned the law in 1967. In Hawaii, the sun rises and sets at about the same time every day, so why bother?
  • Arizona followed suit in 1968. Not setting clocks forward gives residents lower temperatures during waking and bedtime hours. 

See sunrise/sunset times.

As of this today, 39 states have now proposed legislation to change their observance of Daylight Saving Time in some way, according to the Congressional Research Service.

In the past three years, 9 states have passed bills to stop the switching of clocks—and stay on permanent Daylight Saving Time, if Congress were to allow it.

  • In February 2020, Utah passed a bill to end the practice of “springing forward.
  • Maryland recently introduced a similar bill which will heard in committee on March 5, 2020. 
  • In January, 2020, South Carolina lawmakers passed a bill to make daylight savings time permanent.
  • California also has a bill which will be put to a vote in 2020.
  • In June, 2019, Oregon also passed a bill to keep the state on permanent daylight saving.
  • A bill in Washington State also proposes year-round daylight saving.
  • Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, Washington, and Tennessee also passed bills in 2019.
  • In 2018, the Florida Sunshine Protection Act was passed in the state Legislature with overwhelming support for year-round daylight saving time.
  • Some states in New England—Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island all have bills in the works to adopt year-round “Atlantic standard time,” a zone that lies to the east of Eastern standard time, and opt out of daylight saving.

See a map showing pending and enacted bills in 2020 for all the United States

State Laws Superceded

Ultimately, it’s a federal decision. As discussed above, the time is set by the Uniform Time Act which was established in 1966 for a synchronized DST schedule across the country.

States are granted the right to opt out of observing daylight saving time—and remain on standard time—without any federal say so (e.g., Hawaii). 

However, most states wish to stop switching the clocks and stay on daylight saving time year round. This would require Congress to approve an amendment to the Uniform Time Act. 

While it’s unclear if Congress will approve of this amendment, it’s what more and more people want, based on state legislation.

Bottom-line: Today, even if a state governor signs a bill into law, it remains the intent of Congress to supersede any and all laws of the States

astronomy-3217141_1280_full_width.jpg

Our European Counterparts

This brings us to our European contemporaries. They also practice Daylight Saving Time. For most of Europe, DST:

  • Begins at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of March
  • Ends at 1:00 a.m. GMT on the last Sunday of October

In 2019, the European Union voted to remove Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanently by 2021.

Each member country will have until April 2020 to decide whether to remain permanently on “summer time” or to change their clocks back one final time to permanent standard time, also known as “winter time.”

Other countries have already ended DST:

  • Argentina stopped daylight saving in 2009.
  • Russia ended its daylight saving in 2014.
  • Turkey ended DST permanently in 2016.

Just as is the case with North Americans, the EU population overwhelmingly wants to abolish DST. A poll was conducted in which 80% were in favor of eliminating it.

The head of the European Commission, which originally drafted the directive to end DST, said, “It would be pointless to ask for people’s opinions and not act on it if you don’t agree with them.”
 

What do you think about Daylight Saving Time? Tell us in the comments below!

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

daylight savings time mess

I hate it. Just when it begins to get lighter in the mornings daylight savings throws us back into the dark. Let it be! Early light is better than extra darkness

DST

Change the law. No more changing clocks twice a year. It has Run it’s course.

Time change

Leave it one way or the other year round

Daylight Saving Time

I think standard time is better DST is only and illusion that you'll get an extra hour of daylight in the evening all we're doing is cheating the clock one hour

End DST... Madness

It’s time to put an end to DST! It does nothing but confuse our biological clocks, our bodies, and affects our health. Add in the complete hassle of changing every watch and clock (sometimes on a ladder) it is of NO added value to our lives. States like Arizona should show the government that we can all survive (probably healthier) without DST!

Abolish DST

I am ready for DST to go away permanently! It is a really rough adjustment for my health, especially my sleep.

DST

End it.

Time to end this madness,

once and for all, if all of America feels anything like the comments below, lets just put a stop to this !

End DST

Daylight Savings has run its course, time to end it globally.

DST

Every time we move the clock in the fall, either my husband or myself gets sick. Some times it is both of us. Our bodies don't do well with the changes and fully supporting getting rid of it completely.

Standard time vs. DST--compromise?

Changing the clocks is a nuisance, ends up costing more, and decreases happiness & productivity for at least a few weeks during the year. If Uncle Sam can't decide Standard vs. Savings, why not compromise on the half-hour and call it a day? In the spring, set all the clocks 1/2 hour up and leave them there. Our body clocks will adjust more readily, it won't have such a profound impact on farming, energy use, etc. Bring the non-DST states into the fold and our time zones will make sense. We will only be 1/2 hour out-of-sync with the rest of the planet either way, but so what? We're smart enough to figure that out, and so are they.

1/2 hour compromise makes most sense

I agree with Sharon - let's go half way and change no more!
Shifting a clock time does not add or remove daylight, the sun does that. Instead of relying on changing clocks, businesses and schools can change what time they open and close based on the season.

Time change! Leave it alone.

I do not understand why we still change the clocks. Most people everywhere want to leave it alone. There may have been a good reason during the war but today it is not necessary. I vote to leave the clocks alone. There are definitely more negatives to the change then positives. And I do live in NH where the extra hour of daylight would be beneficial. What do we have to do to get this to stop? Now waiting for March to get the time change back. I hope at that time it will stay that way. I do not understand why this has not happened yet.

DST

I say eliminate DST. The sun and moon provide our natural clock. Why do politicians insist on governing things that don't require interference? They need to focus on the things that deserve their attention.

Daylight Savings Tme

PLEASE get rid of it!!!!!!!
We are senior citizens and I have to get on a ladder to reach some clocks.
There are so many that do not change automatically!
It takes me forever to change clocks...watches, car clocks, outdoor clocks, garage clocks,
etc, etc, etc....
Can't believe everyone went along with this stupid idea, for so long!

DST - a 50/50 solution

I live in the Southwest and for us, we get plenty of sunshine most of the year. With sunshine comes heat and we don't need more of that. But people in the northern parts of the country want to have more sunshine. They want more daytime and warmer temperatures. Thus it would seem one choice would be to divide the country in half, from sea to sea. The north side gets DST and the south side does not. Then, there is the fact that animals and plants are not concerned about this because they react to and live by the amount of sunshine they get, regardless of what our clocks say. They are always on Mother Nature's time! Maybe we should take our cue from them.

DST FOREVER

Yeah! Quit flip flopping the time of day but I’d rather stay with DST and have the extra daylight at the end of the day. I was so enamored of DST that when I was employed (now retired) I would adjust my work hours to stay on DST.

Keep DST all year

I'm in New Hampshire, where it gets dark at 4:14 p.m. in December. I find the early darkness very depressing and am in favor of keeping DST all year round.

Arizona

Thank goodness we don’t observe DST in almost all of Arizona. Every year I thank God I live here and don’t have to change my clocks twice a year. Avoid the insanity and abolish DST.

Remain on DST all year

I've always hated it, changing the clocks back and forth. I've always said, if the darkness affects your life then adjust your own hours, not the world's hours. Businesses can change the hours they operate, they do already anyway. With such varied work schedules, we are already adjusting our own hours of shopping, playing, and general living of life. Stop changing the clocks, it's obsolete.

Daylight Savings Time

I would rather have daylight savings time year round. I don't mind the darkness in the morning, but I don't like it getting dark so early at night, makes me want to go to sleep at 4:00 PM.

DST

I would prefer to stay on DST, more daylight.

DST

Let end it. After fourty some years of it. It's not working at all I can tell you that. Mr. Benjamin Franklin, your idea is not working too well. I am sorry sir. Let all of us end the DST. Now.

Remain on DST year round.

I don’t mind going to work in the dark and coming home with some light for part of the evening. For people affected by SAD some sunlight is important and not everyone can get outside for a walk during their work day. Less electricity use for lighting would occur in the morning as were all racing to get ready and out of the house for work and school. We use more in the evening when we’re all home so a few hours more of sunlight would decrease the light use. Farmers and specifically the animals would be thrilled!

Scrap DST

I will be 71 years old next month. I always felt that DST was a negative crock of you-know-what that serves no one in the long run. I fully agree with this article.

DST

I really wish they would just end it and be done with all the useless talking about it!! It's barbaric, we don't need to live like this anymore, so stop torturing us!

Daylight Savings Time

I am all for abolishing it-it simply complicates our lives with yet another government intrusion .And it not only messes with us in a variety of ways ,it also messes with our pets’ schedule-they consistently get us up when they are used to getting up to take their walk!

DST "saves" nothing!

The only really logical argument for DST, other than the "farmer's argument," is that it saves getting up in darkness in the Winter when we go back to standard time. If a real study was to be done I think that it would be found that DST would be more effective in the winter than in the summer - more people using lights in the early evening than in the early morning.

DST - popular? NOT!

I don't think DST has ever been popular; people just go along with whatever the administrators decide. The Administrators give a reason for making the rules, but I have never seen the practice put to a popular vote. I grew up under the WWII mandate, and have gone with the tide of intermittent cancellations of DST, followed by seemingly short periods of Standard Time, not knowing that I had a choice (LOL) against the Government Mandates.

Dst

Hate it

Pages