by Victor Skinner
Pennsylvania state Rep. Russ Diamond says it’s time to “stop the madness of changing clocks twice a year” and permanently place the Keystone State on Eastern Standard Time.
Lawmakers in the General Assembly’s State Government Committee discussed his plan to ditch Daylight Savings Time in a hearing last week.
“The general consensus among Pennsylvanians is they’re tired of changing clocks,” Diamond, R-Lebanon, told his colleagues on the committee.
Diamond’s bill, House Bill 846, would simply delete reference to Daylight Savings Time from statute that establishes the uniform standard of time for the commonwealth. The bill takes the opposite approach of House Bill 335, introduced this spring by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh, which aims to put the state on permanent Daylight Savings Time. HB 335 would require congressional approval, while HB 846 does not.
Diamond pointed to research that shows increased incidents of automobile accidents, workplace injuries, strokes, suicides and other issues associated with changing times, as well as potential economic losses, as justification for the change.
“A 2016 study of 300 U.S. metropolitan areas based on evidence from peer-reviewed academic journals by Chmura Economics & Analytics found that $434 million in annual economic losses are realized in those metro areas due to DST,” Diamond wrote in a legislative memo accompanying the bill.
“Every Pennsylvania metro area included in the study indicated a negative economic impact from DST. A 2008 report by the Independent Institute estimated that the annual U.S. ‘opportunity cost’ of changing clocks could be as high as $1.7 billion.”
Diamond argued the reasons behind Daylight Savings Time, launched during World War I to save energy, no longer apply.
“Energy savings from changing clocks has historically been negligible at best. Due to the proliferation of air conditioning, energy usage during DST may actually increase. The phase-out of incandescent bulbs further minimizes energy differentials,” the memo read.
“Office buildings, manufacturing facilities, retail stores, and other workplaces remain climate controlled and/or illuminated by energy efficient lighting both day and night. There is no national crisis that changing clocks helps to alleviate.”
“It’s time to stop the madness of changing clocks twice a year,” Diamond told the State Government committee.
Mackenzie said he believes shifting to permanent Daylight Savings Time is the best approach, but acknowledged that change would require approval from Congress and “HB 846 is preferential to the current process.”
Maureen Madden, a Democrat from Tobyhanna, also supported the bill.
“Daylight Savings Time isn’t fooling anybody,” she said. “There are 33 states currently [reviewing legislation] to end Daylight Savings Time, just introduced in 2021.
“Let’s just end this, it’s annoying,” Madden said.
Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Centre, cited concerns about time conflicts and issues with transportation if Pennsylvania’s time didn’t align with other states.
“I really believe we should leave this up to Congress,” he said. “This would make a nightmare for airports, trucking.”
Rep. Eric Nelson, R-Westmoreland, echoed similar concerns.
“I’m a strong believer this is a federal issue,” he said. “The chaos for commerce would be considerable.”
Diamond noted that flight times run on a standardized Zulu time, while truckers typically schedule based on the company’s home time zone.
The House State Government Committee advanced HB 846 on a vote of 15 to 9, with Nelson the only opposing Republican and Madden and Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, joining in support.
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