Daylight Savings Time: Will Connecticut Choose to Lock the Clock?


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STAMFORD – Benjamin Franklin didn’t invent daylight saving time, but he had the concept.

In 1784, when Franklin was an ambassador living in France, he wrote that the people of Paris should set their sleep schedules to the sun.

By waking at sunrise and going to bed at sunset, Franklin wrote, Parisians could save “an immense sum … by the economy of using sunshine instead of candles.”

One of the founding fathers may have come up with a way to save candle power, but Americans are fed up with daylight saving time. According to an Economist/YouGov poll, 63 percent of U.S. citizens say they’re over it. 

Mary Ann Williams agrees. As Americans change their clocks on Sunday, Williams said she backs the “lock the clock” movement.

“Just when the mornings are nice and sunny at 6:30, 7 a.m., we spring ahead. Then all the sunshine gets bumped back to 7:30 or 8. Isn’t it hard enough to get up in the morning?” said Williams, who works in an office in Bridgeport. “Then, in the fall, the sun sets in the afternoon when I’m still at my job. So frustrating.”

State Rep. Kurt Vail, a Republican from Stafford Springs in northern Connecticut, has been trying to end the frustration. Each year since he was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2015, Vail has proposed a bill that would keep Connecticut on daylight saving time all year.

Vail’s proposal would allow Connecticut to adopt Atlantic Standard Time, the time zone used in parts of Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

So when other states in Connecticut’s existing zone, Eastern Standard Time, spring ahead, Connecticut would stay put, remaining on daylight saving time all year.

The only way Vail’s proposal would work is if New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island do the same thing.

So far Vail’s bill has not gotten traction. This year the Legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee refused to even raise it.

Vail has said he’ll try again next year. He is one of many state lawmakers across the country trying to “lock the clock.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that, since 2018, 18 states have passed laws or resolutions to use daylight saving time year-round, and 28 more states are considering measures this year.

But there’s a caveat. States can’t switch to permanent daylight saving time unless the federal government authorizes it.

There is support for the idea in Washington, D.C. Last year, lawmakers from both parties proposed the Sunshine Protection Act to keep the country on daylight saving time all year. Their bill failed.

Daylight saving time has always had opponents.

The idea first took hold in 1916, when World War I was in full swing. German military leaders turned the country’s clocks ahead one hour to cut use of indoor lighting and save fuel needed for the war. Some European countries did it, too.

The United States did it two years later but, when the war ended, so did daylight saving time.

The U.S. brought it back when World War II broke out.

After that, daylight saving time stuck around, but some places in the U.S. used it and others did not, creating confusion. So in 1966 the federal government passed the Uniform Time Act, which set each March as the beginning of daylight saving time and November as the end.

Two states, Arizona and Hawaii, opted out and remained in standard time year-round.

In 1987 Congress set new dates for daylight saving time – from the first Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October. Then, in 2005, Congress changed the dates to what they are now – from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November.

Daylight saving time was implemented to save fuel, but studies over the years have turned up mixed results. The amount of energy used to provide lighting fell somewhat, but the amount used on heating and air conditioning somewhat increased.

Other studies, citing interrupted sleep schedules, have shown slight increases in car accidents, workplace injuries, heart attacks and strokes around the times clocks are switched back and forth. 

Sleep experts have called for the elimination of daylight saving time altogether. They think the U.S. should return to standard time in all zones because it’s a better match with people’s circadian rhythms. 

Travel, leisure and retail industries like daylight saving time because more people go shopping, play golf, and take part in other activities when there’s daylight after work. 

The effort each spring to redistribute sunshine from the morning to the afternoon, then reverse it in the fall, makes no sense, Williams said. 

She’s not looking forward to Sunday’s ritual.

“You have to run around the house changing your clocks. It’s silly,” Williams said. “I’m done with it.”

Angela Carella

For 36 years prior to joining the Connecticut Examiner, Angela Carella was a beat reporter, investigative reporter, editor and columnist for the Stamford Advocate. Carella reports on Stamford and Fairfield County. T: 203 722 6811.