ST. GEORGE — The Utah Senate voted Tuesday to advance a bill that would keep Utah on Daylight Saving Time year-round.
- Feb. 12, 11 a.m. to include comments from Sen. David Hinkins.
- Feb. 11, 5:30 p.m. to include comments from Sen. Don Ipson.
- Feb. 11, 1:15 p.m. to reflect most current status of bill.
The bill, designated as SB 59 in the 2020 Utah Legislature, is sponsored by Taylorsville Sen. Wayne Harper. Lawmakers voted 28-1 on Monday to pass the bill to the Senate’s third reading calendar, where it would be subject to a final vote before going to the Utah House. Southern Utah Sen. Don Ipson was the sole dissenting vote.
On Tuesday, during the third reading, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 25-2-2. Once again, Ipson voted against the bill, as well as Southern Utah Sen. David Hinkins.
SB 59 would have Utah spring ahead as it normally does in March and stay ahead permanently. However, before it would be enacted, other states must adopt similar bills, and the U.S. Congress must approve it, something which Harper said in debate Monday was in the works, including legislation from Utah Congressman Rob Bishop.
“Utah is not going to be alone in this,” Harper said, citing 26 state legislatures that have introduced similar bills. “This bill requires that we have at least five Western states other than Utah who will go through and adopt a bill similar to ours before our bill can take effect.”
Harper later clarified that it would be five states including Utah and said that Delaware, Maine, Oregon and Washington have adopted similar contingency bills. Tennessee and Florida are outright going to change to year-round Daylight Saving Time, he said, adding that California has one vote left before they adopt the change.
Harper said that his bill in its current iteration does not require the states to be boundary states, to which Ipson asked if there was any way to restrict it to be surrounding states, “rather than the Pacific Northwest and California.”
“I do know that there are bills being introduced in New Mexico, Colorado … Nevada and Idaho,” Harper responded, adding that the Wyoming Legislature doesn’t meet this year. “We could do that … but I kind of like the bill as it is now.”
Ipson told St. George News that his primary concern dealt with those who do business across state lines, especially if the states that border Utah don’t adopt their own changes.
“For example, (with) Nevada, we’d end up with a two-hour time difference,” he said. “For people that run businesses, that’d be hard to work around. … People that run businesses in Utah and Arizona, half the time it’s one way, and half it’s the other way.”
Ipson said he doesn’t want Utah to become an outlier like Arizona, which doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time, but beyond the business aspect, he said he didn’t get a sense from his district that everyone was in agreement with the idea either.
“Interestingly enough, I surveyed my Senate district, and it was almost evenly split,” he said, adding that it was almost equal thirds between leaving the system alone, staying on Mountain Standard Time year-round or switching to Daylight Saving Time.
However, Ipson said he wouldn’t object if everyone in the United States went to Daylight Saving Time – he just didn’t want the country to be a “patchwork” – and he was also complimentary of Harper’s efforts.
“It’s a good start, and I applaud Sen. Harper,” he said. “He’s worked for several years, and he’s probably got it (the bill) to as good a place as he can get it.”
Hinkins echoed some of these sentiments, including those regarding businesses that cross state lines.
“You have to set a time zone and go with it,” he said. “People have businesses in multiple states, and it’s hard to keep your people organized. I think it would cause a lot of problems.”
Hinkins also said he has been contacted by some of the school districts expressing concern about kids going to school in the dark.
“It’s the safety of it, with the school buses and the children,” he said.
Roosevelt Sen. Ronald Winterton took it a step further on Monday, asking if Harper had spoken with school districts about the bill.
“Because most of them in my district say, ‘Well, the kids are going to school in the dark,'” Winterton said, “and they actually said they don’t want me to vote for this because of that reason.”
“I have had discussions … with the various stakeholders,” Harper said. “They indicated to me after the meeting that they are excited about this bill because it will give them a little more flexibility and a little bit more impetus to start school a little bit later that has health benefits for some of the senior and junior high school students.”
Along these lines, a concurrent resolution was introduced this session encouraging consideration of later start times for high school. The resolution – HCR003 – passed the House on Monday by a vote of 51-20-4, with Southern Utah Reps. V. Lowry Snow and Rex Shipp voting in favor and all other Southern Utah representatives opposed – with the exception of Rep. Brad Last, who was marked as “absent or not voting.”
In his closing statements Monday, Harper said it was time to do what “most people prefer.”
“Based on a 2017 nationwide survey,” he said, “it was indicated that about 74% of the people in the country would like to stay on lighter later year-round.”
Following the bill’s passage in the Senate, it will go to the Utah House.
For a complete list of contacts for Southern Utah representatives and senators, click here.
Check out all of St. George News’ coverage of the 2020 Utah Legislature here.
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