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A Bugologist and a Golfer Sparked the Push for Daylight Saving Time

The early advocates of DST wanted more time for their personal passions. They had no idea what it would be like to switch their clocks twice a year. Forever.

By Mark Wolf  |  October 30, 2023

George Hudson wanted more sunshine to hunt bugs. William Willett wanted more sunshine to play golf.

Each man proposed a version of what would become daylight saving time, enacted in the U.S. in 1918 as a wartime measure and sparking spring and fall time skirmishes ever since.

Hudson, an entomologist in New Zealand whose 1895 proposal involved a two-hour clock clawback, gets the most credit for “inventing” DST. Willett, a builder in Britain, recommended a fits-and-starts series of 80-minute adjustments.

Flash forward to today and that hour of sleep that disappeared like a sock in the dryer last spring reappears when daylight saving time ends on Nov. 5, letting you swat the snooze button just as The Doors are leaning into “Waiting for the Sun” on your favorite wake-up classic rock station.

Related: “Navigating Two Time Zones Is a Way of Life in the Hoosier State.”

State legislatures have hurled at least 500 bills and resolutions against the DST wall, most of which would eliminate the flips and flops of “springing forward” and “falling back”—turning clocks forward by one hour to accommodate DST in the spring and back one hour to conform with standard time in the fall. Instead, they would revert to either permanent standard time or permanent daylight time. Nineteen states have passed laws or resolutions aiming to convert to permanent daylight saving time, but federal law requires Congress to pass legislation enabling the switch.

The Sunshine Protection Act passed the U.S. Senate in 2022 but stalled in the House. It was reintroduced this year.

“This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid. Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support. This Congress, I hope that we can finally get this done,” says U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who introduced the bill. 

“I believe we should stick to a time without switching twice a year.”

—Texas Rep. Will Metcalf

The Texas House passed a bill 138-5 to put the Longhorn State on permanent DST this year.

“The antiquated practice of ‘springing forward’ and ‘falling back’—changing our clocks twice a year—is frustrating to many Texans,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Will Metcalf (R), says. “I believe we should stick to a time without switching twice a year.” The bill failed to advance in the Senate before the session ended.

A subplot in a 2002 episode of “The West Wing” involved three White House staffers on a campaign trip in rural Indiana. While scrambling to make a tight connection to their return flight to Washington on Air Force One, they neglect to notice they’ve crossed into a county that doesn’t observe daylight saving time. Their watches are now an hour behind the local time. They miss their flight. Sputtering ensues.

A CBS News poll in 2022 showed more people in favor of DST than standard time. Here’s a study on DST and heart attacks. ScienceDirect research shows that a significant increase in traffic accidents is related to the time shift. Another study says crime increases after the spring time shift. Still another finds that sunshine is good for your mental health.

Learn more about the status of DST-related state legislation in this article by NCSL’s time zone expert Jim Reed. NCSL’s Daylight Time Zone Legislation page is a sweeping examination of all facets of the issue.

Mark Wolf is a senior editor at NCSL.

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