Why the US Southwest is fighting daylight saving time

Nevada and New Mexico want to stay on daylight saving time, while Texas and Utah want to stay on standard time. Can the American Southwest free itself from the clutches of clock changes?

Charlie Riedel/AP
Custodian Ray Keen inspects a clock face before changing Clay Center, Kan. Americans will set their clocks 60 minutes forward before heading to bed Saturday night, but daylight saving time officially starts Sunday at 2 a.m. local time.

Lawmakers in Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah are trying to pass bills that would allow the states to circumvent daylight saving time laws.

Nevada and New Mexico both want to skip “fall back” and stay on DST year round.

“The end result that we’re seeking is to have the sun set later during the winter months, as well as not messing up every­one’s schedule twice a year, as it often does,” Assemblyman Chris Edwards, said in a recent hearing.

New Mexico State Sen. Cliff Pirtle said that the extra daylight hours could help farmers get more work done throughout the day, and Nevada assemblyman James Ohrenschall said that it will save residents on heating and electric bills.

Mr. Edwards also argued that a permanent spring forward would also expand economic opportunity, by creating a greater overlap between domestic and European office hours. But those looking in the other direction raise concerns about being on a different schedule than neighbor California.

Texas and Utah, by contrast, want to be on Central Standard Time for the same reason Nevada and New Mexico want DST –  people don’t like the seemingly archaic tradition wreaking havoc on their schedules. The proposed Bill 150 would set all of Texas, including El Paso, on Central Standard time.

"I've heard some parents with young children who think its a good idea," Texas Representative Dustin Burrows said, "That they don't have the headache and hassle of trying to get their children readjusted to a new schedule twice a year. I haven't heard anything really negative about it."

Messing with our biological clocks does seem to have some extreme consequences. It can take up to a week for the body to adjust to the change, and even in the fall, when Americans supposedly gain an hour of sleep, many simply stay awake later instead.

The statistically higher rate of illness, car crashes, and workplace injuries during the weeks following each clock change suggest that the extra dose of sunshine does not outweigh the benefits of a good night’s sleep.

Federal law has allowed states to opt out of DST since 1968, when an exception statute was added to the Uniform Time Act of 1967. Arizona and Hawaii both do not observe DST.

None of the proposed laws have passed yet. Although similar bills in Colorado, Tennessee, and Nevada have failed to make it to law in the past, New Mexico’s bill has passed through the state Senate Public Affairs Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear it next.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.