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Legislature considering Daylight savings
Staff
Sunday, January 17, 2021

From Senator Tom Briese’s Office

Nebraska District 41

 One of the most popular legislative bills in recent memory is coming back for 2021: Ending the twice-yearly changing of the clocks that comes with Daylight Saving Time.

Nebraska State Senator Tom Briese, who represents district 41 in the Unicameral Legislature, introduced LB 283 today, which is nearly identical to a bill he brought last year on the subject. Briese’s proposal would put Nebraska onto year-round Daylight Saving Time, preserving the extra hour of sunlight that many don’t want to lose, while ending the practice of setting clocks in the fall back and “springing” them forward a few months later.

“If every bill in the Legislature was as popular as this proposal, we wouldn’t even need to hold debates” Briese said, noting that his office received hundreds of calls and emails on his bill in 2020, and the ratio was “nearly 10-to-one in favor of the concept.” That overwhelming support is borne out in the data: polls show up to 85% of Americans favor doing away with changing the clocks. 

Briese stated that this legislation is needed now more than ever. 

He noted, “Research suggests the time change generates a quantifiable decrease in economic activity.  Because of this, LB 283 can help our business community rebound from the impact of the pandemic, grow our state, and move our state forward.” Statistics do show a depressive effect on consumer spending that comes after the spring time change. A study found a 3.5% drop in consumer spending during the 30 days following the time change - a drop that did not exist in states like Arizona and Hawaii, which do not observe the time change.

Briese isn’t alone in this effort, either: by the end of 2020, at least 32 state legislatures had considered some form of legislation to end the time change, and thirteen states have passed a bill doing away with the practice - six states passed bills in 2020 alone.

“Every single state bordering Nebraska saw legislation last year to end the time change, and our neighbors in Wyoming passed their bill. This is a trend that’s not slowing down, and Nebraska can’t be left behind as our neighbors move away from this outdated practice,” Briese said. Similar to his 2020 bill, and the Wyoming legislation, the bill would not kick in until three neighboring states also switched to a single year-round time. “Obviously, the ideal would be for us to change over at the same time as several of our neighboring states, so that our friends in communities near the borders wouldn’t have a lot of confusion around what time it is here and there,” Briese said. The bill would also not take effect until the federal government passes legislation to allow states to move to year-round DST. Currently, states wanting a single year-round time can only switch to Standard Time.

When asked why this legislation is important aside from the increase in economic activity, Briese pointed to studies showing serious public health and safety risks associated with that lost hour of sleep in the spring, saying “you see a marked increase in fatal traffic accidents, in heart attacks, in strokes, I mean it makes sense when you think about it - take an hour of sleep away from millions of people and those folks with health conditions are going to suffer for it, and drowsy drivers we know are less safe drivers.”

Researchers in Sweden found a 6.7 percent increase in heart attacks in the 3 days following the time change, and a Finnish study showed the risk of stroke increasing by 8% in the two days after the time change. A US study of over 700,000 car accidents showed a 6% increase in fatal collisions during the week following the time change.

The legislation would also be good for the economy in ways other than more spending, Briese added. “Studies have shown a 5.7% increase in workplace accidents, and nearly 68 workdays lost to those injuries, as a direct result of changing the clocks. And that impact on our workforce goes beyond workplace injuries from accidents. Workers running on less sleep than they’re used to don’t work as hard, they make more mistakes, and simply are less efficient.”

A 2014 study by the University of Washington found workers tended to spend less time on-task in the days following the time change. An estimate from that year placed the slower workplace productivity at a cost of $434 million a year of economic activity lost nationwide.