Jim Beam column:Time change hits roadblock

Published 7:05 am Sunday, April 10, 2022

The U.S. Senate may have passed year-round daylight saving time unanimously back in March, but we could be “springing forward and falling back” for a long time to come. U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, explained a major reason why.

“It’s gonna be dark until like nine o’clock in the morning (in Seattle),” Jayapal said. The congresswoman said she has been getting an earful about the plan from supporters and opponents since the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act with little notice.

We have been moving our clocks ahead one hour in the spring and back an hour in the fall for much of the last 80 years, and many people don’t like it. President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted a year-round daylight saving time on Feb 9, 1942. It lasted until Sept. 30, 1945.

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Other changes took place over the years, and we now move our clocks forward one hour at 2 a.m. the second Sunday in March and back an hour the first Sunday in November. The change was advocated in part to allow children to go trick or treating in more daylight.

Current law says if a state wants to observe standard time year-round, it doesn’t need congressional approval. Arizona and Hawaii have done that. However, if a state wants to observe daylight saving time year-round, it needs congressional approval, which the Senate started in the middle of March.

Louisiana is one of 18 states that in the last four years have enacted legislation or passed resolutions to provide for year-round daylight saving time. If the U.S. House goes along with the Senate and President Joe Biden signs the bill, those states would be ready to go to year-round daylight saving time in November of 2023.

However, some members of the U.S. House are saying, “Hold on a minute.” They are concerned about daylight saving time leading to an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon but will mean the sun will come up an hour later in the morning.

California lawmakers, particularly, are worried about children waiting at bus stops in the early morning darkness. That is a valid concern. Some believe farmers supported daylight saving time, but AGAmerica Lending that finances American agriculture says that is a myth.

“The truth of the matter is the agriculture industry lobbied against daylight saving time in 1919,” the company said. “Some believe it was then that farmers became associated with daylight saving time, even though they were only involved because they were against it.”

Daylight saving time does have some advantages. Longer hours make driving safer, reduce crime that occurs mostly during dark hours and is good for the economy because people have more time to shop.

A Morning Consult and Politico opinion poll said 68 percent of those surveyed support year-round daylight saving time, 14 percent oppose it and 18 percent don’t know or have no opinion.

Britannica’s procon.org said 55 percent say they aren’t disrupted by the change, 28 percent report a minor disruption and 13 percent say the change is a major disruption. However, 40 percent would prefer to stay on standard time all year, 31 percent would prefer to stay on daylight saving time all year and 28 percent would keep the time change twice a year.

Some officials are asking members of the U.S. House to give the issue more serious consideration. They said the Senate’s unexpected unanimous approval of year-round daylight saving time caught them off guard.

Dana Milbank in his Twitter column said, “The Senate approved legislation making daylight saving time year-round. There were no hearings, no discussion, no debate, and no vote. It just happened, because nobody objected — in large part because many senators didn’t even know it was happening.”

Members of the U.S. House don’t seem to be interested in the issue at the moment, and it probably isn’t a high priority with the general public.

Since 2015, more than 350 pieces of legislation have been introduced across the United States, but none passed until 2018, according to almanac.org. That is when Florida became the first state to enact legislation to permanently observe daylight saving time once Congress made that possible.

The bottom line, Almanac said, is that Americans don’t want to change their clocks, even if they can’t agree on which way to go.

Daylight saving time is a good fit for this part of the country, but standard time is better in other places. Maybe that’s why going one way or the other is so difficult.

Going permanent either way is OK with me.