Nov 7, 2022 - News

Year-round daylight saving time is probably not coming soon to Utah

Illustration of a clock moving backwards. The hands of the clock are made out of the Axios logo.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

If you savored this weekend's extra hour, take heart: Standard time is probably with us for at least another year.

What's happening: Under a 2020 law, Utah is set to switch to permanent daylight saving time — now observed from March to November — if Congress passes a pending bill to end the twice-yearly clock changes.

  • But Congressional action is unlikely this year.

Why it matters: The fall and springtime switches have long been controversial.

  • The yearly "spring forward" is linked to annual spikes in heart attacks, strokes and car wrecks, while the "fall back" to standard time coincides with worsening seasonal depression and assault rates.
  • Supporters of permanent daylight saving time say the extra hour of evening sun would allow more outdoor fun in winter. But medical experts recommend switching to permanent standard time because the late sunsets of daylight saving time delay the body's production of the sleep hormone melatonin, leading to sleep loss and a host of related health problems.

Catch up quick: The U.S. Senate passed a bill in March to make daylight saving time permanent starting in 2023.

  • But the measure stalled in the U.S. House, where lawmakers cited divided public opinion and a pending government study on the effects of permanently changing clocks, which isn't due until the end of next year, the Washington Post reported Friday.
  • Federal law allows states to adopt permanent standard time but requires Congressional approval to switch to year-round daylight saving time.
  • A bill in the Utah legislature this year would have challenged that requirement by unilaterally eliminating standard time, but it died in committee.

Zoom out: The United States has observed daylight saving time since 1918, in an effort to conserve energy during World War I.

  • Reality check: Researchers have since found that daylight saving doesn't actually conserve much energy, but retailers have championed later sunsets because people shop more in the evenings when there is daylight.
  • Daylight saving was extended by about a month in 1986 and again in 2005. The push for year-round daylight saving time goes back to at least 2015, when Nevada asked Congress to give states the option.

Zoom in: Utah is on the west side of its time zone, which means the sun rises and sets at later times than in most of the country.

  • Under permanent daylight time, sunrise would be after 8am for about four months of the year, and after 8:45am for much of December and January.
  • The ski industry has objected to the switch, saying resorts would have to open later in the morning because workers can't do avalanche control in the dark.
Reproduced from NCSL; Map: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Utah is one of 19 states that have passed laws to switch to year-round daylight saving time if Congress allows it.

  • Hawaii and most of Arizona have permanent standard time (no "spring forward").

Flashback: ​​The United States briefly switched to year-round daylight saving time in 1974, but switched back after complaints about the dark mornings.


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