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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

DST

I say get rid of it. This day and age it is not needed. Markets are open 24/7 doesn't affect energy, and farmers don't want it.

dst

I say leave the time alone one way or another. I have animals that get fed on schedule and I have to adjust myminds time so that is done. I say leave it alone. it does no good.the days are longer naturally in summer anyway.

Daylight Savings Time

I hate daylight savings time with a passion! What kind of idiots do they think we are! Man cannot change the number of hours of daylight! My whole body is out of kilter every time we have to change. I think it is extremely unhealthy, both physically and mentally. I don't care which way it stays. Just keep our hours uniform, one way or the other, all year, please!

DST

I hate DST, when it changes in November I am always waking up an hour earlier. Just leave the Standard time in place. We have enough stress on our bodies without messing with the time.

DST

Why dont we just move our clocks 1/2 hour and leave it alone for the rest of time?
It makes sense

DST

When I get home from work in the evening I have several hours of farm chores to do. I greatly prefer to do it in the light so I don't wake up the chickens.

DST

I live in CT and would prefer DST all the time so we can enjoy more daylight. New England makes up the northeast corner of these United States and would always be in the dark with Standard Time. I want it dark when I'm sleeping and lightest during the day. I also feel it should be a State's right to determine, not Congress, because they never know what time it is!

DST

DTS doesn't change the number of daylight or dark hours. If someone wants to work late go for it. If someone wants to get up with the chickens go for it. Changing the clock is hard on school children. I need to work all the durn time.

DST

I think it should be abolished. Our children still catch the bus in the dark at times and unlike when I was small they have a bus stop blocks from home where we caught the bus in our driveway. I agree it doesn't help but for the life of me can't figure out why people want to stop it on DST instead of stopping it on standard time, real time in some peoples mind. There most definitely is an issue trying to decide what time it is all across the United States. Say you want to leave on a cruise from South Florida but live in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, you used to always know they were one hour ahead, now who knows what time it is not to mention doing business with companies in California.

DST

Sleep deprivation, depression and over all fatigue are mitigating factors in my belief that it's over all unhealthy.
I live in Indiana and remember changing clocks in the 70s and then for years we didn't. Insomnia etc declined. Now it is on the rise again. Especially for us as we are 20 minutes from the Illinois border. Makes zero sense for the average Hoosier when Mitch Daniels did this for his own business ventures.
Let me know and I will gladly be a part of whatever organization wants to rid Indiana of this horrible idea.

Get Rid of DST!!!

It has never really served any purpose they just cut one end of the blanket off & sew it on the other end!
Just another example of mankind thinking that they are improving on how God did things!
He knows better that we do!

Daylight savings time

Eliminate daylight saving time! It has proven to be unpopular and doesn’t save anything.

Good thought

That is the best I have ever heard it put. "About the blanket"

DST

Tell old Trump. He'll get r done!!!

DST

I would like to see daylight savings be left permanent in spring forward time so there is more daylight in the evening.

DST

I would like Daylight Saving Time year round. Spring forward and stay there.

Leave it as it is now - no Spring Forward

I see so many comments that say to ditch DST - but I think the definition of DST is widely misunderstood. DST is when we set our clocks "ahead" in the Spring - hence Daylight Savings Time STARTS in the Spring. Yes, it's nice to have the extra daylight hours but honestly, my body struggles with the extended daylight hours. I've always loathed DST. I sleep so much better with the natural time, which we are in now that we've moved our clocks "back". I also have much more energy throughout the day. It feel more natural on the "Fall Back" to me.

DST - LEAVE IT AS IT IS NOW - NO SPRING FORWARD

I think it should end - no more spring forwards!

DST

We should adopt one or the other, not both. There are just so many daylight hours in a day and changing the clock doesn't change that.

Daylight Savings Time is Horrible

I have always hated daylight savings time as a 60 year old person I've been with it all the long way of misery. It was horrible as a kid having to get up earlier, horrible as a parent, losing that hour of sleep and having tired kids to drag out of bed and horrible as an ordinary working person having all of the above and still supposed to function well at work. It is particularly when working night shift and having an extra hour tacked onto an already almost unbearable time to work. It's a sad, sad example of how the minority rules in this country that all of in the 80% are forced to live this way. Science has shown that it is bad for our health, but who cares in the powers what the rest of us suffer.

End Time Change

We need to stop changing the clocks after we spring forward in 2019. I prefer rising in the dark and driving home in the light, but just PICK A TIME AND STICK TO IT! Everyone I have talked with about the time change agrees.

Fake Time

We need real time. Not fake time. Abolish DST.

DST

Get RID of it!!!!! Don't like it at al!!

DST

Do away with it after the change in spring! Does not good ,in fact is inconvenient for every one. Twice every year our body rhythm is changed if you have pets the problems are intensified I hate DST

Abolish DST!

Hated DST from the beginning. It doesn't save anything and does more harm than good.

DST

Please end DST-it is not worth the consternation it causes! I hate it.

D

If 80% of people want this abolished, isn’t it another indication of the failure of democracy that it persists?

Stop DST

Everyone I have ever discussed this with agrees. They need to stop this DST & allow standard time not to be changed. People want to get various things done outside after they get home from work, while they still have daylight.
How can the people of the USA put a stop to this change___?

End DST in Spring 2019

definitely believe the USA should "opt out" of Daylight Savings Time after we "spring forward" and then permanently enjoy the daylight... now if only Washington actually listens to us ;-)

DST

Do away with it leave it as standard time the benefits are no longer there As i do enjoy the late sunset I equally enjoy the earlier sunrise basically readjust to the standard. Let it be

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