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States Object to Changing the Clocks for Daylight Saving Time | Almanac.com

States Object to Changing the Clocks for Daylight Saving Time

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The History of DST and the Movement to Stop Changing the Clocks

Catherine Boeckmann
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As of March 2022, at least 28 states have proposed legislation to stop the practice of Daylight Saving. Is yours on the list? Here’s the background and the latest news on the movement to “lock the clock” and stop changing time twice a year!

Today in the United States, DST begins at 2:00 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and ends on the First Sunday at 2:00 a.m. in November when we return to standard time. In March, we “spring forward” and set clocks forward one hour. In November, we “fall back” and set clocks back one hour. See our Daylight Savings page for this year’s dates.

Many Americans (as well as Europeans and people around the world) believe that changing the clocks is an antiquated practice from wartime that has more negative than positive results. According to the Associated Press-National Opinion Research Center for Public Affairs, in late 2019, seven in 10 Americans did not want to switch clocks twice a year. However, not everyone agrees whether the clocks should stay on standard time or DST year-round. 

In a poll of Americans in 2015:

  • 23% wanted year-round standard time; 
  • 23%  wanted year-round DST; and
  • 48% wanted to switch between standard time and DST.

However, the results of the same poll in 2021 showed that:

  • 40% of Americans want year-round standard time;
  • 31% of Americans wanted year-round DST time; and
  • 28% of Americans want to switch between standard time and DST.

It appears that more people now think that the concept of switching times between standard time and DST is becoming outdated. This may be partly due to the computer revolution and a host of other modern-day reasons.  

The poll in 2015 registered an even split of 23% each for Americans who wanted year-round standard time or DST. In 2021, the poll revealed that now 40% want year-round standard time and 31% want year-round DST, both an increase from 2015.  

Bottom line: Americans do not want to change their clocks, even if they cannot agree on which way to go!

Interestingly, while a majority of U.S. senators wish to propose legislation making DST time permanent, 71% of American citizens take a position in opposition to this.

As of March 2022, 28 states are considering legislation on the topic: Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Most of the proposed legislation aims to keep clocks on DST year round, but in some northeastern states (such as Maine, Massachusetts, and New York), the change could be accompanied by a switch from Eastern Standard Time to Atlantic Standard Time. Will this year be the year that the clocks stop changing?

shutterstock_320805509_full_width.jpgPhoto credit: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Read the history of time change from 1918 wartime through 2022 and see what you can learn and conclude!

Daylight Saving Was a War Time Effort

Historically, the changing of clocks was established by law in 1918 as a fuel saving measure during World War I.  

However, there is a common myth that DST was established to extend the daylight hours for farmers. This is not true. Farmers were extremely opposed to having to turn their clocks forward and back twice a year. Changing hours is actually a disruption for the farmer. Imagine telling a dairy cow accustomed to being milked at 5:00 a.m. that their milking time needs to be moved an hour because the truck is coming to pick up their milk at a different time! For the farmer, plants and animals, it is the sun and seasons which determines their activity.

The 1918 law lasted only seven months. It proved unpopular with farmers and other folks.  However, after repeal in 1919, some state and localities continued the observance.  

It took another war, World War II, to introduce a law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, establishing year-round DST. This “War Time” law lasted from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945.

From 1945 to 1966, observance of DST was quite inconsistent across the states. There were no uniform rules. This caused massive confusion in the transportation and broadcasting industry which pushed for standardization. Farmers continued to oppose it.  

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Photo Credit: Zaccio/Shutterstock

Uniform Time Act of 1966

To address this confusion, permanent DST was introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 12, 1966 and signed into law as the Uniform Time Act. This established a system of uniformity within each time zone. Daylight saving time was the law throughout the United States and its territories. However, states were allowed to opt out of the law, and some did.  

Daylight Saving Time Act of 1974

In the 1970s, there was a severe energy crisis in the United States. Consequently, in 1974, the Daylight Saving Time Act was signed into law, establishing DST as year-round. Although the law was expected to save energy, it was widely unpopular. Because daylight occurred later, many people had to go to school and work in the dark. Parent associations were especially vocal about children waiting for school buses in the dark.  

Energy Policy Act of 2005

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended the Uniform Time Act of 1966 by abolishing the year-round DST and changing the start and end dates of DST in order to lengthen the previous daylight-saving time.  

  • DST would now start on the second Sunday of March (March 11, 2007) instead of on the first Sunday of April (April 1, 2007).   
  • DST would end the first Sunday of November (November 4, 2007), rather than the last Sunday of October (October 28, 2007).

Congress retained the right to revert to the previous law should the change prove unpopular or if the energy savings would be insignificant.

Notably, states were granted the right to opt out of observing DST and remain on standard time. However, they were not allowed to establish DST as year-round. This would require Congress to approve an amendment to the Uniform Time Act.

All states but Hawaii and Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Nation) observe DST.

  • Hawaii opted out in 1967 as the sun rise and sets at about the same time every day, so why bother?  
  • Arizona opted out in order to give residents lower temperatures during waking and bedtime hours.  

U.S. territories not observing DST include Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Norther Marianas.

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Does the Time Change Conserve Energy?

Department of Energy report from 2008 found that during the four weeks the U.S. extended DST after the 2005 law, there were savings of about 0.5 percent in electricity per day. Later studies have also shown that the energy savings were minimal. Bottom-line: There is not significant savings in electric consumption. Perhaps this would have once been the case, but it is no longer a big factor with modern technology.

Health, Safety, and Other Effects of Time Change

Here are some of the many reasons that many U.S. states advocate to make Daylight Saving Time permanent: 

  • According to the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Safety Research: During DST months, there are fewer deadly car and pedestrian accidents because more daylight in the evenings increases visibility and better aligns with drivers’ standard work hours.   
  • Studies show that that there would be reduced risk for cardiac issues. Specifically, there is is an association between DST and acute myocardial infarction (AMI), especially after the spring shift.
  • Similarly, NIH studies show a reduced risk for stroke. DST transitions appear to be associated with an increase in hospitalizations from stroke during the first two days after circadian rhythm disruption.
  • With DST, there is additional daylight in the evenings which reduces the number of robberies by 27%, according to a 2015 Brookings Institution report.
  • It benefits our economy. According to a study by JP Morgan Chase, which found that there is a drop in economic activity of 2.2% to 4.9% when clocks move back.
  • Thanks to additional daylight, there is more physical activity. The Journal of Environmental Psychology found that DST increased pedestrian activity by 62% and cyclists activity by 38% because of additional daylight.
  • Children also tend to exercise more with added daylight. This reduces childhood obesity and increases physical fitness, according to studies published by the International Journal Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity as well as the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.

And what about November when one can get an extra hour of sleep? The reality is that most people do not really get more sleep. 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.

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A Legislative Movement to Stop Clock Changing

Since 2015, more than 350 pieces of legislation have been introduced across the United States, but none of significance passed until 2018, when Florida became the first state to enact legislation to permanently observe DST, pending the amendment of federal law to permit such an action.

In the last seven years, 18 states have enacted legislation or passed resolutions to provide for year-round DST. The catch is that because federal law does not currently allow year-round DST, Congress would have to act before states could adopt any legislated changes.

Highlights of legislation in some of the states:

  • In 2018, the Florida Sunshine Protection Act was passed in the state Legislature with overwhelming support for year-round DST
  • In 2018, California voters approved a proposition for year-round DST. The proposition required a two-thirds vote of the California State Senate. It was never brought to a vote because the federal government failed to give the state approval for the time change and the bill died.
  • In 2019, six more states passed legislation for year-round DST: Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington.
  • In 2020, Utah passed a bill to end the practice of DST.  Other states enacting legislation include Idaho, Louisiana, Ohio (resolution), South Carolina, and Wyoming.
  • In March 2021, a group of bipartisan senators reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act, legislation that would make DST permanent across the country. 
  • In 2021, an additional six states, Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi and Montana, have enacted DST legislation.

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Our European Counterparts

This brings us to the European countries. They also practice 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

DST, however, could soon be a thing of the past in Europe. In 2018, European Parliament drafted a law to permanently remove biannual clock changes in the European Union. On March 26, 2019, the European Parliament voted in favor of backing the EU Committee draft directive to stop the one-hour clock change in the European Union. The proposal is another formal step towards a permanent elimination of DST in the EU and will form the basis of discussions between the EU Ministers to produce a final law repealing the EU’s existing DST legislation.

Other countries have already ended seasonal clock changes, including Argentina (2009), Russia (2014), and Turkey (2016).

In the case of the EU, member states would have the option to go permanently to summer (daylight) time or winter (standard) time. A poll was conducted in which 80% were in favor of eliminating any time change. 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 your comments below.

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