SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah residents said Thursday that officials should reject daylight saving time and join Arizona and Hawaii as the only states that don’t adjust their clocks.
Speaking at the first public forum on the topic, businessmen, parents and outdoor lovers cited reasons to do away with the practice. The meeting marked the biggest advance for a movement that has sprung forward and fallen back at the state Legislature since 1997.
Switching times “makes business more difficult” because it puts Utah out of step with neighboring Arizona for much of the year, said Joe Miller, who works in computer science.
Parents said they don’t like to move clocks ahead, because it forces children to walk to school and bus stops in the dark. “That outweighs any inconvenience concern,” said Adam Milner.
And a trail runner from Park City said changing times means his morning runs lose an hour of cool air. “Daylight saving time is truly not necessary,” David Bennett said. “Let’s leave the clocks alone.”
A pair of Utah lawmakers attended the Salt Lake City discussion along with about 100 members of the public.
Most speakers opposed daylight saving time, but agriculture spokesman Sterling Brown was among the few who spoke in support of the current system.
Brown, representing the Utah Farm Bureau, said “cows don’t care whether they’re milked at 5:30 or 6:30” in the morning, so the organization hasn’t taken an official position. But farmers and ranchers with day jobs appreciate the time switch because it gives them evening daylight to tend herds and fields after work.
A working father, Brian Anderson, also said he wanted to keep things as they are because he gets exercise and family time outdoors after work. “I need that daylight hour for my health and to be active with my family,” he said.
Rep. Ronda Menlove, a Garland Republican, sponsored the measure that set up Thursday’s debate when it passed the Legislature in March. She said several older residents in her district had reached out to her in favor of doing away with daylight time. Rep. Lee Perry, a Perry Republican, also attended and said he expects the issue will go to voters in a referendum.
No bill has been drafted, and any such proposal would face several legislative hurdles before it could pass.
Nations worldwide adopted the practice of daylight saving time during World War I to conserve resources.
In the U.S., Congress passed the first daylight saving time legislation in 1918. Nearly 50 years later, the federal Uniform Time Act put a national daylight saving time in effect from the last Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October. It was extended by a month in 2007.
States aren’t required to take part. And U.S. territories don’t observe the switch, including American Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico.
Arizona rejected the practice in 1968 under pressure from business leaders. Hawaii, a former territory, has never observed daylight saving time.
Supporters of the system in place across the overwhelming majority of the nation say it saves energy costs, embracing an argument widely credited to Benjamin Franklin. Franklin reportedly proposed that a later sunset would cut down on use of fuel for light.
Several studies have been done on the issue with varying results. Some show energy is conserved, others point to an opposite result.
Provo resident Kay Anderson had more personal concerns.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we undergo jet lag twice a year,” he said. Also, changing clocks means bad news for skiers, because “the spring switch turns the snow to ice by morning.”