19 states seek to make DST year-round

November 4, 2021
When and why we "fall back" for daylight saving time.
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  • Daylight saving time was first enacted by the federal government during World War I as a way to conserve coal.
  • A switch to year-round daylight saving time would require a change to federal law.
  • Momentum to get rid of DST has picked up over the years and 19 states have enacted legislation to provide for year-round daylight saving time. But despite that, a switch would require a change to federal law.

Daylight saving time comes to an end on Sunday, so it’s time to “fall back” by setting our clocks behind one hour. 

But if you’re tired of changing your clocks twice a year, there could be some hope on the horizon to keep it lighter later throughout the year.

“In the last four years, 19 states have enacted legislation or passed resolutions to provide for year-round daylight saving time, if Congress were to allow such a change, and in some cases, if surrounding states enact the same legislation,” Jim Reed of the National Conference of State Legislatures told USA TODAY.

The 19 states are: Alabama, Georgia, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Idaho, Louisiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, Wyoming, Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Florida and California. 

In this year’s legislative session alone, six states enacted measures to make DST year-round, Reed said.

The debate over daylight saving time, which was first enacted by the federal government during World War I as a way to conserve coal, has picked up momentum in recent years.

The Department of Transportation, which is in charge of daylight saving time, says the practice saves energy, prevents traffic accidents and curbs crime. But sleep experts believe the health effects of losing sleep eclipses the value. 

The ultimate stumbling block for fans of year-round daylight saving time is the federal 1966 Uniform Time Act, which became law because of the random way states had been observing daylight saving time up until then. The act said states either have to change the clocks to daylight saving time at a specified time and day or stick with standard time throughout the year. 

Another perspective:Daylight saving time is ‘not helpful’ and has ‘no upsides,’ experts say. Here’s why.

The only power individual states or territories have under the act is to opt out of daylight saving time, putting them on standard time permanently. That is practiced by Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

So despite what the states want to do, a switch to year-round daylight saving time would require a change to federal law.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been in favor of year-round daylight saving time for several years. His Sunshine Protection Act of 2019 was an effort to end the twice-annual time changes and keep daylight saving time year-round in his state and across the nation instead of the current eight months. 

The Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 was reintroduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators to make DST permanent across the country, and there is a companion bill in the House, Reed told USA TODAY. Another bill, H.R. 214 – the Daylight Act – would allow states to elect to observe daylight saving time for the duration of the year. 

But “no significant legislative activity has occurred on any of these bills to date,” he said.

When does the time change in 2021?:Here’s when to turn back clocks on daylight saving time

A press release from Rubio’s office lists the advantages of permanent daylight time, including a reduction in car crashes, fewer cardiac problems and stroke, improved mental health, less crime, increased economic growth and increases in physical fitness.

“Opinions remain mixed on the benefits of permanent daylight time versus permanent standard time,” Reed wrote in a blog post on the National Conference of State Legislatures website. “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.”

Still, the actual March and November time changes are almost universally reviled because of all the accompanying adjustments we must make, such as coming home from work in the dark and the slower-than-expected resetting of our internal time clocks, the legislatures conference said. 

Worldwide, more than 70 countries observe daylight saving time. It’s known as Summer Time in some countries, including the United Kingdom and in Europe.

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