Evening sunshine, more shopping cited as benefits of year-around Daylight Saving Time

Sunsets would come later during winter days if Iowa stayed on Daylight Saving Time year-around. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Sen. Jason Schultz summed up his constituents’ reaction to the idea of having Iowa on Daylight Saving Time year-around: “I don’t care what you gotta do, but I want it light at night,” the Republican from Schleswig said.

An Iowa Senate subcommittee voted unanimously Wednesday to advance legislation that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent.

Iowa is currently on Central Daylight Time.  Residents turn clocks back one hour each fall and advance them forward when the state returns to Central Standard Time in the spring.

During the energy crisis in the 1970s, President Richard Nixon signed an executive order in 1973 to put the country on Daylight Saving Time to save energy. Today, it is up to states to decide whether to use Daylight Saving Time or stay on standard time.

Sen. Brad Zaun, R-Urbandale, said having more daylight hours in the late afternoon and evening affected his sales at the hardware store he used to own.  “And the reason why is when people get home and it’s light out, they’re more likely to do things,” he said.

“Personally, for me it’s a pain to have to switch,” he added.

The main objection raised Wednesday:  Changing the clock messes with TV schedules.

Brad Epperly, a lobbyist for the Iowa Broadcasters Association, said broadcasters want consistency from state to state.  Changing time standards affects programming and advertising, he said.  Morning and evening broadcasts are often aired in conjunction with national broadcasts, for example, he said.

Lawmakers in the House have discussed possibly conditioning a change in Iowa’s standard to changes in neighboring states. But senators did not consider that option on Wednesday.

“I can understand states being different but this could be something Iowa could be first instead of last,” Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, said.

Senate File 2077 advances to the Senate State Government Committee.