Let’s do the Time Warp (Again)

    by CLC Staff

    It’s that time of year.

    With the days getting colder and sunsets getting earlier as we approach the hibernal solstice (the shortest day of the year and the start of winter), we returned to Standard Time — and therefore the end of Daylight Saving Time — yesterday. For most folks, that meant turning the clocks back an hour before bedtime on Saturday. For the rest of us, it meant forgetting to do it and being confused all day long because we weren’t sure what time it really was.

    In any event, the sun set across North Carolina an hour earlier than it used to last night, from Manteo at 5:04 pm to Murphy at 5:39. And we all got that fabled extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning.

    Legislation is pending in the General Assembly, however, that ends our biannual clock-changing ritual of “falling back” to Standard Time on the first Sunday in November and “springing forward” to Daylight Saving Time (DST) on the second Sunday in March. House Bill 326, if passed into law, would have North Carolina join 19 other states in adopting Daylight Saving Time all-year long — if and when the U.S. Congress authorizes it. In March of 2022, the U.S. Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent, the Sunshine Protection Act, that would make DST permanent. The U.S. House of Representatives has not yet taken up the legislation.

    According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 28 other states have considered or are considering legislation related to making Daylight Saving Time permanent. They are: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

    Two states, Hawaii and Arizona, do not observe Daylight Saving Time; neither do the U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. Under the Uniform Time Act of 1966, states are currently allowed to opt-out of Daylight Saving Time, but lack the authority to make it permanent.

    House Bill 326 cleared the state House on May 3 with an overwhelming bipartisan majority (93 to 24) but has been stuck in the state Senate’s Rules Committee ever since. 

    In his remarks on the House floor introducing the legislation, Rep. Jason Saine, the bill’s primary sponsor, said that “establishing year-round Daylight Savings Time can bring benefits to health, safety and productivity by reducing the disruption caused by the twice yearly time change.”

    According to the American College of Cardiology, “data from the largest study of its kind in the U.S. reveal a 25 percent jump in the number of heart attacks occurring the Monday after we “spring forward” compared to other Mondays during the year – a trend that remained even after accounting for seasonal variations in these events. But the study showed the opposite effect is also true. Researchers found a 21 percent drop in the number of heart attacks on the Tuesday after returning to standard time in the fall when we gain an hour back.”

    Rep. Saine has introduced similar legislation in the past: the 2019-2020 biennium’s HB350 passed the House 85 to 27 while the 2021-2022 biennium’s HB307 sailed through the House with an even greater majority of 100 to 16. But those bills ultimately died when the state Senate failed to take action.

    Last year, a CBS News/YouGov survey found that nearly 80% of Americans would prefer not to continue to switch the clocks every March and November; among respondents, 46% preferred permanent Daylight Saving Time and 33% preferred permanent Standard Time.

    Similarly, a recent High Point University poll found that two-thirds of North Carolinians support “locking the clock” at a fixed time and ending the twice-yearly change. Only 25% said they prefer the current system and 9% were unsure.