116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Sunday morning, Iowans will join most of the rest of the nation in “springing forward” into daylight saving time.
If state lawmakers go along with legislation already approved by the Iowa House, it could be the last time Iowans have to go through the twice-a-year ritual of changing their clocks — if Congress agrees, too.
It’s not the chore of changing clocks this weekend and then “falling back” to standard time come Nov. 6 that inspired Rep. Mike Sexton, R-Rockwell City, to propose Iowa adopt permanent, year-round daylight saving time. Today, technology to a large degree takes care of changing clocks automatically.
Instead, it’s the time change impact on families, schools, mental health and public safety that prompted his bill, House File 2331.
In a floor debate, Sexton cited research from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine warning of the dangers of seasonal time changes.
“An abundance of accumulated evidence indicates that the acute transition from standard time to daylight saving time incurs significant public health and safety risks, including increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, mood disorders and motor vehicle crashes,” he read from the academy’s journal.
Sexton and Iowa aren’t alone. An Economist/YouGov poll in November 2021 found that 63 percent of people nationwide wanted to stop clock changing. Looking at just political parties, the poll found that 67 percent of Democrats and Republicans favored year-round daylight saving time.
Over the past seven years, state legislatures have considered 450 bills and resolutions on the topic, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. This year, 28 states are considering 68 pieces of legislation addressing daylight saving time. Of those measures, 11 propose the adoption of permanent standard time, one gives voters a non-binding choice and the remaining 56 establish year-round daylight saving time.
There is precedent for Sexton’s proposal. Year-round daylight saving time was implemented around 1942 for the duration of World War II and again during the global energy crisis of the winter of 1973-74.
In the United States, daylight saving time dates to World War I when it was implemented as a temporary measure to conserve energy and provide more usable hours of daylight. However, the concept can be traced to Benjamin Franklin, who posited that if everyone went to bed earlier and got up earlier there would be less need for candles.
The policy debate has many angles. Studies have called into question the degree of energy savings resulting from daylight saving time. Other studies have shown negative impacts on people’s health and circadian rhythms because of time changes as well as a higher number of car crashes and workplace injuries in the days after a time change.
However, the federal Department of Transportation promotes daylight saving time for its energy savings as well as claims that it saves lives and prevents traffic injuries, and reduces crime since people tend to be out and about more in daylight hours as opposed to the night when most crimes are committed.
Any change in the twice-a-year clock change also would be dependent on Congress because federal law does not allow full-time daylight saving time. Under the Uniform Time Act, states may exempt themselves from daylight saving time. Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and most of Arizona do not observe daylight saving time at all.
Year-round standard time is the recommendation of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
“Current evidence best supports the adoption of year-round standard time, which aligns best with human circadian biology and provides distinct benefits for public health and safety,” according to the academy.
That wasn’t an issue in the House debate. Republicans accepted a Democratic amendment to make it more clear that year-round daylight saving time would not go into effect until Congress changed federal law. Sexton was pleased HF 2331 the chamber passed with strong bipartisan support, 82-13.
“It’s the kind of issue that if your grandma thought it was a terrible idea, you probably voted against it. If your grandma thought it was a good thing to do, you voted for it,” Sexton said.
The bill now goes to the Iowa Senate, where Sexton is “somewhat optimistic they’ll do something.”
Comments: (319) 398-8375; firstname.lastname@example.org