Government

Ending daylight saving time may be a matter of time for lawmakers

Efforts to stop time change gain traction in other states

The sunsets behind a corn field in rural Johnson County on Sunday, November 5, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
The sunsets behind a corn field in rural Johnson County on Sunday, November 5, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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This is Newstrack, where The Gazette catches up on previous coverage from our community.

Background

CEDAR RAPIDS — Responding to complaints from constituents, Iowa legislators over the years have introduced proposals to either end daylight saving time or make it permanent to bring an end to the “spring ahead, fall back” clock-setting rituals.

This year, a bill with nine Republican co-sponsors was assigned to a House Agriculture subcommittee, which recommended passage. However, the bill did not move ahead, despite Chairman Jarad Klein, R-Keota, voicing support.

The goal, he said, was a standard time without changes during the year. He would like to see Iowa make the switch contingent on border states taking similar action.

Lobbyists for Alliant Energy were the only ones registered on the bill. They were undecided.

Daylight saving time has been used in the United States and many European nations since World War I. It was instituted to save fuel needed to produce electric power.

In the United States, it was formally adopted in 1918. However, after the war ended, it was so unpopular that it was repealed in 1919 with a congressional override of President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. It then became a local option.

It was reinstituted during World War II, but use was inconsistent because of the lack of a federal law regulating its use. In 1986, daylight saving time legislation was enacted calling for it to begin the first Sunday of April and end the last Sunday of October.

What’s happened since

Although the daylight saving time bill died this session, Klein thinks the proposal “easily could be one that gets a little steam next year.”

Steam already is building in several states. Next door in Illinois, legislation has been introduced to make daylight saving time year-round. In the state of Washington, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, signed legislation to move to permanent daylight saving time. It passed the Washington House 90-6 and the Senate with just two “no” votes.

All told, more than three dozen states have considered an end to the switch between standard time and daylight saving time this year.

The Utah Legislature passed a measure recommending that Congress approve legislation to allow states to adopt year-round daylight saving time. Florida congressmen have introduced legislation to accomplish that, but have yet to win approval.

The idea has the support of President Donald Trump, who tweeted in March: “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!”

It would be more than OK with many parents, said Klein, a parent of five.

“Every year when we change the clocks, it gets a little harder to get to 8 o’clock Mass,” he said.

He also hears complaints from teachers because of the effect on their students.

“Over the course of the week that follows the time change the kids have to go through an adjustment,” he said. “It’s not just waking up and getting to school, but it tracks throughout the day. For example, some kids are used to eating lunch at 11, but their body feels like it’s 10 o’clock.”

With other states getting on the bandwagon, Klein foresees the time-change issue as one that “could be a live round” next year.

“Every year the General Assembly is a little different, and you never know who will be passionate about a given issue,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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