Is it time to end spring ahead, fall back? Many lawmakers say yes

Published 6:48 am Saturday, March 16, 2019

By Brian Bakst

MPR News/90.1 FM

Here’s a timely topic for debate: The lost hour of sleep many of us are still adjusting to since daylight saving time kicked in over last weekend. At the State Capitol, there’s a push — albeit a recurring one — to lock in the clock.

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Legislation to eliminate the twice-yearly time shifts has moved ahead in the state Senate and counts a powerful backer — the House speaker — in that chamber.

“Its time has come,” Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, told the state government policy committee on Tuesday before it approved her bill on a divided voice vote to set Minnesota on the same time cycle for all 12 months.

Kiffmeyer cited research attributing workplace injuries, auto accidents, heart problems, diet issues and child learning struggles to the time adjustments.

But Minnesota and most other states are constrained in how far they can go without a revision to federal law.

Kiffmeyer’s bill would set Minnesota on standard time — the one in place during fall and winter months now — all year long. So, earlier sunrises and sunsets.

That’s too big of a sacrifice for some, including Sen. Carolyn Laine, DFL-Columbia Heights.

“I love daylight time,” Laine said. “And I cannot imagine summer where the sun would be up way before I’m ever getting up and would go down just when I’m getting going.”

Sen. Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, said he’s not sure the public would like it either.

“Doing this we would be shortening everybody’s summer,” he said. “Nights they enjoy outside, campfires, whatever it is.”

He urged Kiffmeyer to pass a companion resolution urging Congress to permit daylight saving time year-round.

Other senators say pet owners and parents with kids standing at the bus stop in the dead of winter are fine with standard time.

If Congress were to give the go-ahead to perpetual daylight saving time, Minnesota would automatically adjust to that under the Kiffmeyer bill.

“There would be no more springing ahead or falling back or changing clocks or disrupting your circadian rhythm,” she said.

Past efforts in Washington to ditch the decades-old “fall back” law have failed. But President Trump sought to give the proposal a nudge with a tweet Monday that reads: “Making daylight saving time permanent is OK with me!”

There is also some heft on the state level behind this year’s drive, with House Speaker Melissa Hortman signing on as a co-sponsor and helping give the measure some broader attention.

She and Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, said Monday they hope to tap into lawmakers’ groggy side to win them over.

“I’m tired. I am so tired today,” Freiberg told Hortman during a floor session Monday. “And I was trying to figure out why I was so tired. Then it hit me, ‘Oh, it’s because we changed the clocks.’ Is there any reason for that anachronistic relic that we still have to change our clocks? I don’t think there is.”

Freiberg made a light-hearted motion to speed up consideration of his bill to have Minnesota pick a time cycle and stick with it. His preference is the current one — daylight saving time.

Like clockwork, Rep. Sandy Layman, R-Cohasset, chimed in with support.

“I drive three and a half to four hours down to St. Paul on Monday morning. And I was darn tired this morning,” Layman said with a laugh. “I was yawning and just about pulled over on the side of the road.”