Daylight saving time inches closer to a ballot question

UPDATE Feb. 12, 8 p.m. On Feb. 7, Joint Resolution – Nonbinding Opinion Question on Daylight Saving Time, designated HJR 2, was heard by the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Standing Committee. However, despite the sponsor of the bill’s assertions that not passing the bill out of committee would be taking away the public’s chance to give their opinion, the bill was ultimately voted down.

Following discussion of the bill in the committee hearing, Rep. Scott Sandall, R-Box Elder, Cache counties, made a motion to pass the bill out of the committee with a favorable recommendation. However, Rep. Douglas Sagers, R-Tooele County, made a substitute motion to table the bill.

Clarification was made that tabling the bill meant it would be held with the committee until the next meeting, at which point it would be placed on the agenda. However, it would require a motion to lift the bill from the table and a 2/3 vote to approve the motion in order for it to be considered further during the 2017 general session.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Norm Thurston, equated this to killing the bill and restated several arguments in favor of repealing daylight saving time. The motion to table the bill failed with a vote of 3-6, with 4 committee members absent. This returned to the original motion to pass the bill out of committee with a favorable motion, which allowed Thurston final comments. He said:

I think this would be a good thing to put before the public. I also think this is not abdicating our authority as a legislature. It still does require legislative action, but what it does allow us to know is what does the public think and gather some critical information precinct by precinct, district by district, so we would know exactly how our constituents think. … If we choose not to do this, we’re saying to the public, ‘We don’t really care what you actually think. We don’t want to know what you actually think. We’re going to do this our way, regardless of what you think.’

Ultimately, the motion to pass the bill out of committee with a favorable recommendation failed by a vote of 4-5, with 4 members absent.

ST. GEORGE — Daylight saving has hit the Legislature again this year, and two state lawmakers want to give voters the chance to decide whether to end the semiannual clock-turning ritual by putting the issue before a public vote in 2018, and they may just get the chance.

The Utah Legislature is considering putting an opinion question to the voters in 2018 on whether the state should do away with daylight saving time. Inset photo is the Utah Capitol, Salt Lake City, Utah, undated | Composite St. George News

Two pieces of legislation that go hand in hand are making their way through the Utah Legislative Session, the first is designated HB 78, Nonbinding Opinion Questions, sponsored by Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, and Senate sponsor Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork. This bill aims to modify the election code and sets up the framework to allow ballots to contain questions on them regarding particular public policies.

The second part, designated as HJR 2, proposes a Joint Resolution – Nonbinding Opinion Question on Daylight Saving Time. The resolution is sponsored by Thurston and Henderson and calls for the opinion question to be placed on ballots statewide in 2018, asking whether Utah should be exempt from daylight saving time.

The joint resolution for the question on daylight saving time, if passed, directs the lieutenant governor to present the question to the voters.

The House Government Operations committee Friday gave a favorable recommendation to the bill to establish the process for elections officials to place nonbinding questions on the ballot for voters to consider, “which is remarkable as far as I’m concerned,” Thurston said.

The resolution advanced to the full House with an 8-1 committee vote, Friday. Second reading was Monday.

If it passes, Utah would join Arizona in opting out of the semiannual time switch and would fall behind and stay behind making it lighter earlier in the morning with an earlier sunset in the evening.

Thurston said to spring ahead and stay ahead requires action by U.S. Congress.

A 2014 survey conducted by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development showed nearly 67 percent of respondents favored year-round Mountain Standard Time, Thurston said, while only 15 percent preferred keeping the semiannual clock adjustments.

“It continues to be an issue because it’s an artificial attempt to move people’s schedules around, twice a year,” he said, “and it’s the most mentioned topic when speaking to the public.”

During that study there were concerns that it wasn’t a scientific study, he said, so by “making an issue a nonbinding referendum, essentially we’re doing the study of all studies, which will let lawmakers know once and for all how most Utahns feel about daylight saving time – so they can finally make a decision.”

Thurston cited research that shows clock adjustments twice a year can have an impact on sleep schedules, decreased workplace performance and increased health and behavioral problems.

“It’s particularly difficult for parents with special needs children,” he said, “and the children themselves, because it’s a disruption – and it comes twice a year.”

St. George News asked people at random what they thought of daylight saving time, and if they could vote today what their vote would be.

Brianna Mount said that it wouldn’t make very much difference either way, while Jason Kovar, who is on the track and field team with Southern Utah University, said he prefers to have more daylight to practice.

Jaden Wintch said that he would vote to remove daylight saving time. “It would definitely make a change in our lives a little bit with the time difference being the same all year round,” he said, “and I don’t think that would be a big problem.”

Spencer Burton agreed that removing daylight saving time would affect part of his day at least, when he said, “It would affect my golf schedule probably, so it might bother me if it got darker sooner.”

The industries most affected are retail, golf and part-time farming, Thurston said. Those have voiced their concerns stating that an extra hour of daylight in the summer is crucial for their industries.

Many businesses tend to support daylight saving time for a simple reason: money. Extra hours of evening daylight spur summer spending. That’s most obvious with outdoor businesses like golf courses, but others also enjoy a boost simply because more people are out instead of hunkered down at home.

In 2015, Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, sponsored that year’s House Bill 178, which would have had Utah “fall behind” and stay behind when it came to daylight saving time. He ran the bill after extensive studies and surveys by the state, finding a majority favored doing away with the practice. That bill never made it out of the House Rules Committee, which determines where bills go.

In the beginning, there was light:

Many believe that farmers are to blame for the practice of turning the clocks back in the fall and forward in the spring, but the reality is that it was never adopted to benefit farmers – farmers actively lobbied against it.

Benjamin Franklin was actually the first to suggest the idea back in 1784 in several letters to the editor of the Journal of Paris. He proposed it as a way to economize on sunlight and burn fewer candles during winter mornings and nights, according to information obtained from the Smithsonian.

During World War I it was first adopted by Germany in an effort to save fuel for the war effort by replacing artificial light with real light, and then in the U.S. in 1918. Over the next 50 years it would move in and out of Congress for the next 50 years, until the mid-1960s, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act that standardized daylight saving time, according to cecilbuffington.com’s article, “The History of Daylight Saving Time.”

In 2007, daylight saving time was extended to begin on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November.

The purpose of daylight saving time had nothing to do with farmers, despite what many believe, but was to provide an extra hour of daylight during normal waking hours, with the intention that this would reduce electricity usage and lead to fewer traffic accidents in the evening.

Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the only states that don’t use the daylight saving time system.

Resources

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

 

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10 Comments

  • Brian February 7, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Ha ha ha, the “extra hour of daylight” helps part-time farming, eh? I’m pretty sure there isn’t any more or less daylight, it’s just the time shown on the clock that changes. The plants and sun are entirely unaware of the time change and neither spring forward nor fall back.

    For golfing I get it: you have more daylight left once you get off work. Yet less time to exercise before work. So better but fatter golfers. Got it.

    I say let nature take it’s course and do away with it.

  • Pheo February 7, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Obviously, we don’t get an extra hour of daylight. In reality, this time change is compelling us to wake up an hour earlier all summer so we don’t waste daylight. I’m surprised that so many conservatives support this assault on our freedom.

    • Chris February 7, 2017 at 5:52 pm

      I’m pretty sure that daylight savings is an Islamic, communist conspiracy to keep us from arriving at church at the right time twice a year. Surely, Trump can issue an executive order to end this affront to our liberty.

      • Badshitzoo February 9, 2017 at 1:07 am

        Which one? The Religious affront to our liberty; or the Political ideological affront to our liberty.

  • McMurphy February 7, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    As long as the rest of the country is going to use the daylight savings time system I say Utah should stay with it. I like always knowing the time difference between Utah and the three other time zones in the US

  • comments February 7, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    It is truly a ridiculous and absurd policy

  • Who February 7, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    assault on our freedom???!!!!!

    • Chris February 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      not much of a sarcasm detector, are we?

    • .... February 8, 2017 at 1:43 am

      LOL ! Yeah good question. assault on our freedom ? ha ha ha ha ha ha

  • Not_So_Much February 8, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Can we also vote for lower taxes while we’re at it?

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