Time for a change? Texas, Utah discuss daylight saving time

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/17/2014

State lawmakers in Texas and Utah will soon start talking about whether the observance of daylight saving time is worth continuing.

Time changes in the U.S. date back to the late 19th century when the railroad industry set official time zones with a standard time within each zone. By 1918, the feds took control and handed responsibility to the Interstate Commerce Commission – as well as the authority to observe daylight saving time.

Today, federal law doesn’t require states to observe daylight saving time, but if they choose to follow the time change they must adhere to the dates set. Arizona and Hawaii are the lone states not to take part in time changes.

In Texas, a pair of bills filed for consideration during the upcoming regular session would nix future time changes. Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton, is the author of one bill that would keep the state on standard time year round.

Flynn said switching back and forth between daylight saving time and standard time once was a good idea, but times have changed.

Supporters of staying on standard time say beneficiaries would include farmers, schoolchildren and families.

Critics of doing away with time changes, however, claim that farmers need the extra daylight in the morning. They also say that kids walking to school, or waiting for the bus, during the winter months most likely would be out in the dark.

Rep. James White, R-Woodville, has filed a separate effort that would hold off on any changes. Instead, a task force would be set up to study the usefulness of continuing to observe daylight saving time.

Flynn’s bill, HB150, and White’s bill, HB363, can be considered during the session that begins Jan. 13, 2015.

State lawmakers in at least five states addressed the issue earlier this year. The only state to take action was Utah. There, a bill was signed into law that didn’t advocate one way or the other on the issue.

Instead, the law simply called for meetings by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to get input from businesses, state agencies and others and complete a report on whether the state should abandon time changes. During that time period, an online survey by GOED found that 67 percent of respondents were in favor of eliminating daylight saving time.

Eighteen percent of respondents favored staying on daylight saving time year-round and the remaining 15 percent wanted the status quo.

Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, and Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, are working on bills to address future time changes.

The Utah Legislature convenes on Jan. 26, 2015.

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