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Oklahoma wants to 'lock the clock' to Daylight Saving Time

OPMX

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law Monday a bill that would lock Oklahoma to permanent Daylight Saving Time (DST), but only if the federal government allows it.

Senate Bill 1200, authored by Sen. Blake Stephens, mandates that the state adopt year-round DST, doing away with the twice-annual time change, if federal legislation like the Sunshine Protection Act is passed in Congress.

“We fleshed this thing out to make sure we were on the right side of this issue,” Stephens said.

Speaker Charles McCall was principal author in the Oklahoma House and the bill had 27 co-authors in both chambers, something Stephens said he’s “very proud” of.

“I’ve worked my tail off through four years,” Stephens said of his efforts to pass the bill.

Polls, like one from YouGov in 2023, have consistently shown many Americans are sick of the time change, favoring some form of locking the clock.

DST or Standard?

Stephens believes switching to permanent Daylight Saving Time is the best option for Oklahoma.

Stephens said “there’s a truckload of benefits for locking the clock on Daylight Saving Time.”

One of those potential benefits is lower crime rates, a phenomenon that’s been studied before.

Stephens also points out the increased number of vehicle accidents after each time change.

While SB 1200 was supported by a healthy majority of both the state House and Senate, there were some voices of dissent.

Rep. Kevin West unsuccessfully tried amending the bill to lock clocks to Standard Time.

“That gets us closer to true solar time,” West said of his proposed amendment.

West was critical of the bill’s dependence on Congress for approval, which so far has not passed any DST legislation far enough to be signed by the President.

West also pointed out that Arizona, Hawaii and some U.S. territories have adopted permanent Standard Time rather than DST.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also has advocated for permanent Standard Time, arguing DST brings with it negative impacts on sleep hygiene.

Second time’s the charm?

The country tried permanent DST once before - it didn’t go over so well.

“In 1974, the feds put the entire United States on Daylight Saving Time year-round,” said West. “For the most part, everybody loved it until we got to winter.”

Congress reversed its decision that same year, putting the country back on a time-shifting schedule.

West said even if Congress and subsequently Oklahoma pass DST laws, he “definitely” thinks they would be repealed shortly after, much like in the 1970s.

Stephens, however, said times have changed.

“We’ve come a long way in 50 years,” he said.

Some concern lies with the prospect of children starting school during the winter months in the dark, making pick-up & drop-off traffic more dangerous.

“I drove a school bus,” Stephens said, “I picked up kids in the winter months in the dark and I brought them to school. Nobody got harmed.”

A 2019 poll from the Associated Press and the University of Chicago found that 71% of respondents wanted an end to the time change practice. Of that group, 40% said they would rather year-round standard time, as opposed to 31% preferring year-round DST.


This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

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