Daylight Saving Flexibility Under House Consideration

Published September 22, 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce is considering a bill that would enable more states to decide whether to participate in Daylight Saving Time (DST), the practice of advancing clocks ahead one hour during summer months.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R­–UT) and officially titled the “Daylight Act,” House Resolution 6331 would allow states to determine whether they will participate in DST, operate one hour ahead of other states in their assigned time zone year-round, or opt out of DST and remain on standard time.

The committee has not yet scheduled a vote on the bill.

Currently, states wishing to cease observation of DST must request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Says It’s Time for a Change

David Applegate, a policy advisor for legal affairs for The Heartland Institute, says he thinks anything giving states more power over their own affairs is a net positive.

“With everything, there are pluses and minuses, but on balance, it’s a good thing,” Applegate said. “Anything that can be handled at the state level as opposed to the federal level, should. It also will enable people at the local level, the state level, to promote economic efficiency, in a number of ways.”

David Prerau, a federal government consultant and expert on Daylight Saving Time, says the bill would give state lawmakers more choices over DST participation, but at a price.

“What this bill in Congress would allow is a third choice for the states,” Prerau said. “They can be on daylight time, they can be on standard time, or they can be on the current system, so they’re adding the option of year-round Daylight Saving Time. The positive is that it’s good to have choices. The negative is that right now we have a very nice, uniform system except for two states. Everybody else is on the same system. The time difference between every state and every other state is constant.”

Says Federalism Boosts Prosperity

Applegate says Congress should consider promoting federalism and flexibility for states whenever possible.

“This country faces a lot of challenges, many of which can be helped by ensuring and advancing ongoing economic development,” Applegate said. “We have pretty much reached the limits of what we can transport on the highways, which is a limiting factor for economic development. We talk about the three fundamental rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You won’t have a ‘pursuit of happiness’ without continuing opportunities.

“The second aspect is the debt,” Applegate said. “How are we going to pay it off? How are we going to grow out of it? Anything that promotes economic growth, to my mind, while returning the government to federalism.”

Potential Confusion for Travelers

Prerau says the bill, if enacted, could create initial confusion for interstate travelers.

“If you had several states choose this new option, it may lead to a much less uniform situation where some states have daylight time year-round, some have standard year-round, and some alternate,” Prerau said. “That would get closer back to what we had in the 1950s and 1960s, when people weren’t sure what time it was in other places.”