By James B. Reed
Our national, twice yearly ritual of changing clocks occurs at 2 a.m. this Sunday, as the official national time shifts from daylight saving time (DST) back to standard time, except for those places that stay on standard time year round, namely Arizona and Hawaii.
Opinions are mixed on the benefits of daylight time versus standard time, but the actual March and November time changes are almost universally reviled because of the accompanying adjustments that all of us have to make, like coming home from work in the dark and the slower-than-expected resetting of our internal time clocks.
Addressing these time issues has been on state legislative agendas for several years. In 2017, 18 states considered 39 bills and resolutions. This is an increase from 2016 when 13 states considered 22 bills, none of which passed.
States that considered legislation in 2017 include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.
No consensus exists as to which way to go, as 17 of the bills would establish permanent standard time, while 12 of the bills would create permanent daylight saving time. Federal law allows a state to exempt itself from observing daylight saving time, upon action by the state legislature to do so, but does not allow the permanent observance of DST.
As a work-around to achieve the same end, legislation in at least three states this year seeks to move the state into the next time zone to the east, including Maine, New Hampshire and Wyoming. To achieve the same purpose, a Massachusetts commission recommended this week that the legislature consider moving into the Atlantic Time Zone, joining Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
As in previous years, none of the bills that would change time designations passed this year, though New Jersey adopted a resolution urging that Congress and the president extend daylight saving time to the day after the general election, so that more daylight would be available to the voting public. Vermont passed a housekeeping bill that conformed Vermont law to federal law regarding the timing of DST.
Stay tuned, the daylight saving time debate will continue.
Read our previous DST blog.
James Reed directs NCSL’s Environment, Energy and Transportation Group.