Daylight savings: why Utah can’t stay on it all year long

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah’s gearing up to go back on to Daylight Saving Time. Everyone living in the state will “spring forward,” setting their clocks 1 hour ahead on March 14, 2021.

Swapping the hour in the spring is supposed to help us save energy and use the spring light better.

According to Time and Date.com, 70 countries take part in the modern observance of Daylight Savings. The way we do it now has been in use since 1916. Germany was the first country to make use of the technique.

But the first place to use DST was Canada; the site reports, “On July 1, 1908, the residents of Port Arthur, Ontario, today’s Thunder Bay, turned their clocks forward by one hour to start the world’s first DST period.”

The concept is not new, the ancient Roman’s practiced a form of it too.

Even though Ben Franklin is sometimes given credit for it, his comment was a satirical allusion to it for Parisians.

The modern idea is credited to New Zealand scientist George Vernon Hudson and British builder William Willett. One presented in 1895 and was not taken seriously; Willet presented in 1905 a plan for 8-time switches of 20 minutes during the year. He did not live to see the adoption of the idea.

The idea was never about the farmers. Here in Utah, we’ve been practicing DST since 1970, and this will be our 52-year of springing forward.

It’s not always good for health. In the spring people can be more tired. Studies have shown:

  • Swedish study found that the risk of having a heart attack increases in the first three weekdays after switching to DST in the spring.
  • Tiredness induced by the clock change is thought to be the main cause of the increase in traffic accidents on the Monday following DST’s start.
  • On Mondays, after the start of DST, there were more workplace injuries, and the injuries were of greater severity compared to other Mondays.
  • The start of DST has also been linked to miscarriages for in vitro fertilization patients.

With problems reported, there has been the idea to keep the summer hours all year long.

Utah passed a bill in 2020 that was supposed to keep us on daylight saving time. Governor Herbert even signed it. So what happened, and why have we rolled through another year going from DST to MST and now getting ready to go back to DST?

The bill was passed but there were a couple of caveats.

There’s a contingent effective date, and in the bill, it says, “This bill takes effect on the first Sunday of November following the day both of the following have occurred:”

a) Legislation, enacted by Congress, goes into effect to amend 15 U.S.C. Sec. 260a. To authorize states to observe daylight savings time year-round.

b) At least four western states, other than Utah, pass legislation to place all or a portion of those states on year-round daylight time, regardless of the time zone.

It’s the Lt. Governor’s responsibility to inform the legislative general counsel when the bill takes effect.

Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Wyoming also passed Permanent DST Laws in 2020; before that, Arkansas, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington did the previous year in 2019.

So what is the bottom line? We asked Lt. Governor Henderson’s Office, and here is the official word.

“According to SB59, before Utah can observe year-round Daylight Saving Time (DST), Congress must authorize states to eliminate Standard Time, and at least four other Western states need to pass legislation enacting year-round DST. Neither of these things have happened yet.”

So for now, Utah will continue to enjoy springing forward and falling back.

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