By Jim Reed
The country confronts the forfeiture of an hour of time this weekend as we “spring forward” with our clocks.
The disdain showered on this twice-annual ritual of clock-changing has created a strong state legislative trend over the last four years to dispense with clock-changing and stick with daylight saving time (DST).
Citizens truly dislike the disruptive impacts associated with the time change, be it falling back or springing forward and have made that known to their elected representatives.
This month, Georgia became the 15th state to pass legislation that places the entire state and all of its political subdivisions on year-round DST, effective if Congress amends applicable federal law.
Twenty-eight states are considering 64 bills and resolutions addressing DST. Most of the proposed measures would establish DST as the official time year-round, similar to the Georgia bill, and in some cases contingent on surrounding states enacting similar legislation. Since 2015, at least 350 bills and resolutions addressing time change issues have been introduced in virtually every state, but none of significance passed until 2018, when Florida became the first state to enact legislation to permanently observe DST, pending amendment of federal law to permit such action.
Current federal law prohibits states from enacting DST permanently, but allows states to stay on standard time and not change clocks with the passage of state legislation, as Arizona, Hawaii and most U.S. territories have done.
This month in Congress, the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 was reintroduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators to make DST permanent across the country. This press release lists the advantages of permanent daylight time including a reduction in car crashes, fewer cardiac issues and stroke, improved mental health, less crime, increased economic growth and increases in physical fitness.
Advocates of permanent standard time include the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Its position statement on the topic explains that standard time is more aligned with human circadian biology. The position statement cites medical studies documenting the risks associated with clock changing including: a higher risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular ailments, an increase in emergency room visits, a greater number of people experiencing mood disturbances and suicide risk, an increased risk of fatal motor vehicle crashes, and an increased risk of medical errors on the part of medical personnel.
Opinions remain mixed on the benefits of permanent daylight time versus permanent standard time. The Internet is rife with sites extolling both sides of the debate. That said, states continue to vote in favor of year-round DST as the new normal.
For the latest information on state legislative activity on time zone issues, see NCSL’s DST webpage.
Jim Reed directs NCSL’s Environment, Energy and Transportation Program.