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Spring Ahead

On Sunday, March 10, at 2 a.m., daylight saving time begins. We’ll set our clocks forward one hour and the change will push sunsets later into the evening hours and sunrises later into the morning hours. The cost is that “springing forward” will temporarily disrupt the sleep of millions of Americans.

Daylight saving time in the U.S. started as an energy conservation trick during World War I and became a national standard in the 1960s.

The practice shifts the number of daylight hours we get into the evening. So if the sun sets at 8 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., we’d presumably spend less time with the lights on in our homes at night, saving electricity.
It also means that you’re less likely to sleep through daylight hours in the morning, since those are shifted an hour later too. Hence “saving” daylight hours for the most productive time of the day.
Despite the fact that daylight saving time was introduced to save fuel, there isn’t strong evidence that the current system actually reduces energy use — or that making it year-round would do so, either. Studies that evaluate the energy impact of DST are mixed. It seems to reduce lighting use — and thus electricity consumption — slightly, but may increase heating and air conditioning use, as well as gas consumption.
Fifty years ago, the Arizona Legislature opted to keep the clocks in most of the state in standard time all year. One reason: Arizona summers are very hot and an earlier sunset gives residents more time to enjoy tolerable temperatures before bed. However, the Navajo Nation in Arizona does use DST.
Hawaii also doesn’t observe DST. The island state is the farthest south of all states and rejected it because it doesn’t see a hugely noticeable daylight hour difference between winter and summer months.
A Montana Senate panel killed a bill, SB153, Feb. 6 that would have asked Montana voters whether they want to end daylight-saving time in the state.
The Senate State Administration Committee first deadlocked 4-4 on whether to approve Senate Bill 153 and then voted to “table” or kill the measure.
“Staying on Mountain Standard Time would just not work for a state as far north as Montana,” said Sen. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula, who initially tried to amend the bill to ask Congress if Montana could have daylight-saving time year-round. “I thought it would be good to stick with the one that we’re on eight months out of the year.”
Sen. John Esp, R-Big Timber, the sponsor of SB153, said last week that people in his district said they preferred having one time year-round. The bill would have placed a referendum on the 2020 general election ballot, asking Montana voters whether they wanted to go to Mountain Standard Time for the entire year.
Opponents, however, said daylight-saving time in Montana helps the tourism industry and children’s sporting events and practices, providing an extra hour of daylight in the spring, summer and early fall.
On the final vote Wednesday, two Republicans – Sens. Dee Brown of Hungry Horse and Mike Cuffe of Eureka — and two Democrats — Bennett and Sen. Janet Ellis of Helena — voted against the bill. Three Republicans — Sens. Ryan Osmundson of Buffalo, Gordon Vance of Bozeman and Doug Kary of Billings — and Sen. Frank Smith, D-Poplar, voted for it.
In the November 2018 election, Californians voted in favor of a ballot measure that paves the way for this. The measure, which passed with 60 percent of the vote, simply grants the California Legislature the power to vote to change the clocks permanently. Any changes would need to start with a two-thirds majority vote in the state legislature — which hasn’t happened yet. If approved at the state level, the time change wouldn’t be a given. Congress would have to approve it, which has uncertain prospects too.
In 2018, the Florida government approved the Sunshine Protection Act, which seeks to permanently leave Florida in daylight saving time, meaning that Florida would be one hour ahead of the rest of the East Coast during the winter months. Massachusetts has looked into a similar measure, too.
The bill is still waiting on approval from Congress before it can go into effect. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has put forth two bills to push the approval forward, but no action has been taken on them.
Some members of the European Parliament — the governing body of the European Union — want to abolish clock changes there, too.