Lawmakers puzzle over year-round daylight saving time

By: - January 27, 2021 4:56 pm

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

A Senate subcommittee advanced a proposal Wednesday that could, with the cooperation of neighboring states, make daylight saving time last all year.

Like most states, Iowa currently switches between Central Standard Time, which takes place from November until March, and daylight saving time for the rest of the year. 

The cycle began in 1966, when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act. Losing an hour in the fall meant that daylight more closely matched with the work day through the winter: the sun would rise in time for kids to go to school and would set by early evening.

Since then, just two states have opted out of the national observance of daylight saving time: Arizona and Hawaii. Those two states are permanently in standard time. 

Senate File 8 proposes Iowa stay year-round in daylight saving time instead. The Uniform Time Act does not explicitly allow states to choose daylight saving time permanently. No other state has successfully done so, although a 1973 executive order shifted the whole country temporarily to daylight saving time during the energy crisis.

But being the only non-standard time state in the region could cause trouble for Iowa. Business and broadcast representatives told the subcommittee that a switch to daylight saving time would hurt companies near state borders.

“Sioux City operates in three states at the same time,” said Iowa Chamber Alliance executive director Dustin Miller. “Their front desk person, who I deal with on a regular basis, said that she’d be pretty upset with me if she tried to coordinate meetings across the region.”

Radio and television broadcasts would also be complicated if the state switched to daylight saving time. Iowa Broadcasters’ Association lobbyist Brad Epperly asked: What time would the Super Bowl air in Iowa versus its surrounding states?

Sen. Jeff Reichman, R-Montrose, proposed a sunset clause amendment, giving neighboring states several years to consider similar legislation before transitioning to year-round daylight saving time. 

The subcommittee voted unanimously to move the bill forward with amendments. 

“There are technical problems with it. There are legal problems with it,” said Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, who considered a similar bill in 2020. “It’s just kind of nice to get together every year and talk about it.”

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.