Proposal aims to eliminate Daylight Saving Time in Missouri
Long-held tradition linked to increased car accidents, health and sleep disturbances
For decades, people have reminded themselves before going to bed at a certain time each fall to turn their back their clocks one hour, and in the spring, ahead one hour, for Daylight Saving Time.
Today, Daylight Saving Time (DST) is used in 70 countries. In the U.S., it is used on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.
"It's one of those old traditions that's established in law," said State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob.
Historically, DST has been used to conserve energy and make better use of daylight as the time changes manipulate the sunrise and sunset by one hour. It was first used in Canada in 1908, and American politician and inventor Benjamin Franklin suggested waking up earlier to save candles.
Germany followed in 1916 to save fuel during World War I, along with the United Kingdom and France. After the war, countries returned to standard time, but the practice was revisited during World War II.
In 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson made "Fast Time" law to support the war effort during World War I at the initiative of Robert Garland, a Pittsburgh industrialist who had heard of the idea in the U.K. Today, he is referred to as the "Father of Daylight Saving Time."
Later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented year-round DST from February 1942 to September 1945 during World War II. At that time, U.S. time zones were divided into "Eastern War Time," "Mountain War Time," "Central War Time," and "Pacific War Time." After Japan's surrender in August 1945, time zones were renamed "Peace Time."
Long before the western world implemented DST, ancient civilizations purportedly used the concept by adjusting their daily schedules to the sun's schedule.
DST continued to be used until 1966 but a lack of consistent rules caused confusion for buses and trains, so the Uniform Act of 1966 was established by Congress, which stated that DST would begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. States had the ability exempt themselves by passing a state ordinance.
In the early 1970s, Congress extended DST to 10 months to save energy after the 1973 oil embargo. A trial period showed the practice saved the energy equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil each day, but DST was still controversial, with complaints that dark winter mornings endangered the lives of children going to school.
In 2007, the current schedule was implemented in the U.S. following the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extended the period by one month to March. In 1996, the European Union (EU) standardized a DST schedule from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
In 2016, the practice of DST has been brought up again, but not to make more changes -- but to do away with it altogether.
"I'm supportive of the idea of creating one standard time because I really don't see that there are tons of benefits with switching the clocks twice a year, but at same time, I would want all the border states of Missouri to join us," Fitzpatrick said. "A large percentage of our population is several minutes within the state line(s). I think we're one of the few countries in the world that still do change the clocks."
The House bill, HJR 60, proposes a constitutional amendment to establish DST as new standard time.
The bill passed by the Select Committee on General Laws by a vote of 8-0, and states, "On the first Sunday in March, 2017, the last clock change in accordance with federal daylight saving time will occur and thereafter the state of Missouri will not recognize daylight saving time for any public purpose or as the official time for Missouri. The bill will go into effect only if two adjacent states adopt the same or highly similar proposal."
Along with the fact that DST has not been questioned in decades, proponents of the bill testified that DST can increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents, and can negatively affect students' health. No opposition was voiced to the committee.
"There's quite a bit of research showing more fatal car wrecks and all kinds of things surrounding that change and I think there are different health implications, but the data is there that says the benefits don't really outweigh the cost of doing it," Fitzpatrick said. "So in the long-term approach, I think it makes sense to stick with one time."
A similar bill, which did not pass, was proposed in 2013.
"That bill required a compact of 20 states that would make the current time permanent," he said. "So if we passed the bill, Missouri wouldn't be the only state. Every state that borders us observes DST, and once the 20th state passed the law, it would make it the standard time.
"We have 2,000 bills filed every year," Fitzpatrick said. "Most bills don't pass. My concern for the bill up this year is it doesn't have the same compact requirement in that it only requires two other states that border Missouri to adopt it. I don't like the idea because a lot of people in Barry County are right on the border of Arkansas and go to Rogers, Ark. to see a movie, go shopping, or work there, so I would really hate to inconvenience anyone in Missouri traveling to Arkansas and having to deal with two different times. I have great concerns about supporting the bill if it doesn't include at least the border states of Missouri before we join into it."
Fitzpatrick suspected the increased incidence of car accidents may be connected with sleep and light cycle changes.
"I think that's probably more associated with when you lose an hour of sleep, and when its dark," he said.
Fitzpatrick said the bill could come up for a vote within the next two weeks.