Daylight savings time begins Sunday

We’re changing the clocks ahead one hour 2:00 AM Sunday

Americans are preparing once again to turn the clocks ahead 1 hour, which had been a hot topic in Congress on whether or time change should be “fixed” or permanent. This would eliminate the need to change the clocks ahead one hour in March, and the need to turn the clocks back an hour in November. The bipartisan Sunshine Protection Act, which passed the Senate unanimously in 2022 attempted to make Daylight Savings Time (DST) permanent. Currently, aside from Arizona and Hawaii, the remaining 48 states participate in the biannual time change.

According to a Economist/YouGov poll from last year, 62% of Americans polled are in favor of the permanent change to DST, which is what we are about to enter into this weekend once the clocks are changed ahead 1 hour.

Back to the Senate Sunshine Protection Act legislation, first introduced in 2021 and passed unanimously in 2022. The bill would make daylight saving time (DST) permanent across the country starting in 2023. When the bill reached the House of Representatives however, it stalled and remains stalled to this day. Since no law was passed by both Houses and subsequently sent to the President for a signature, Federal law still prohibits states from enacting permanent daylight saving time (DST). Dozens of individual states have considered proposals to adopt permanent DST, however none of those states have adopted legislation since 2022. Arizona, Hawaii, and U.S. territories already following permanent DST would be exempt from the law, and will continue using their current system.

There are arguments for and against the permanent DST notion, and many of those decisions come down to individual states and how they are effected, most notably during the Winter months. Studies have examined several impacts of standard time and daylight saving time on such things like sleep, physical and mental health, car accidents, energy consumption, crime, economic activity, and children’s school performance. One of the biggest oppositions to permanent DST revolves around school children heading to school in the Winter in the dark, and the obvious safety concerns that are presented in that case. Others have argued that more daylight in the morning is preferrable than the evenings during the Winter months. According to the polls however, most prefer a permanent DST and wish to end biennial clock changes.

The U.S. first started experimenting with DST in 1918 during World War I. It was created mostly to promote commerce and for the reduction of energy consumption. Over the next several decades, it was repealed and implemented several times until the Universal Time Act of 1966 established the current practice of biennially changing of the clocks. The most common times where it was implemented was during World War I and World War II in an effort to conserve energy and maximize worker production. Since 1966, there was a temporary experiment of permanent DST in the face of an oil crisis, but that lasted less than 10 months before reverting to the current system. Despite multiple attempts at legislation to make DST permanent since, all bills have either failed or stalled.

Like it or dislike it, the current system of the biennial clock change will continue for the foreseeable future, and despite attracting more attention from Congress recently, there is still enough of a debate and disagreement over implementation and policy changes that will prevent any changes in 2024.

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