hands changing clock time

More than 60% of U.S. adults want to stop the nation’s twice-annual clock changing.

Is It Time to Change the Time Change?

By Jim Reed | March 9, 2022 | State Legislatures News | Print

“If So Many People Loathe Daylight Saving Time, Why Hasn’t Someone Done Something About It? Well, They’ve Tried.”

Indeed, virtually all the state legislatures have considered a total of 450 bills and resolutions on the topic in the last seven years or so in response to the sentiment behind this headline from a Colorado Public Radio story a couple years back.

Much of the legislation would stop the disruption-causing twice-yearly clock switching. Inherent in the debate is whether to enact either permanent standard time or permanent daylight time. The federal Uniform Time Act allows the former option but not the latter. Since 2018, legislative enactments in 18 states establish year-round daylight saving time as soon as federal law allows it.

An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adult citizens in November 2021 found that 63% wanted to stop clock changing, 16% wanted to keep the current system and 23% were unsure. Were clock switching to be eliminated, 48% of respondents favored permanent daylight time, while 29% preferred permanent standard time.

Legislative Action

Across the legislatures in 2022, 28 states are considering 68 pieces of legislation addressing DST, including 2021 carryover bills and new bills introduced during this year’s session (see map below).

Of the 68 measures, 11 propose the adoption of permanent standard time; one gives voters a nonbinding choice (Georgia); and the remaining 56 establish daylight time as the official time year-round should federal law change—and in most cases, contingent on surrounding states enacting similar legislation.

Maryland Del. Brian Crosby (D), sponsor of  HB 126, said ending the biannual clock change will “keep our circadian rhythms healthy, lower crime and help small businesses.”

Crosby’s bill, which passed the House of Delegates 108-24 on Feb. 17, designates Eastern Daylight Time as the standard year-round for Maryland. It is contingent, however, on federal law allowing year-round DST and the enactment of similar legislation by Delaware, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

If enacted by the Maryland Senate and signed by the governor, Maryland would become the 19th state to choose to move to permanent daylight time, held up only by federal law. Three bills have been introduced in Congress to allow states to make that change; three others would make DST permanent. A subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on March 9 titled “Changing Times: Revisiting Spring Forward, Fall Back.

 

Interest Groups Weigh In

Not all states have jumped on the daylight saving bandwagon. Colorado wants to put permanent standard time on the ballot with consideration of a concurrent resolution by Sen. Jeff Bridges (D). If approved during the November general election, Colorado would be exempt from observing DST in the future, beginning in 2023, and Mountain Standard Time would be the year-round standard time in the state.

Interest groups register their opinions each year when bills are considered. Retail, golf, barbecue and candy (think Halloween) businesses benefit from longer daylight hours during the eight months of DST and speak out in favor of the shift to permanent daylight time.

The ski industry, however, opposes year-round DST, since it would require a later start time during the key winter months of December, January and February.

A group formed in 2021, Save Standard Time, has compiled extensive resources in support of standard time and is providing testimony to state legislative committees in favor of making standard time permanent. Federal law allows permanent standard time, which has been adopted by Arizona and Hawaii, as well as the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Recent lengthy articles in The New York Times and The Washington Post give informative background on the history and purpose of the nation’s clock-switching regimen.

Though a trend is apparent, as one-third of the states now endorse year-round daylight time, nothing will happen soon enough to stop the time change this month. Daylight saving time begins Sunday, March 13, 2022, at 2 a.m., as clocks spring forward one hour.

NCSL takes no position in the debate over daylight time versus standard time, but it continues to track and compile nonpartisan information and state time zone legislation here.

Jim Reed directs the NCSL Environment, Energy and Transportation Program.

Additional Resources