House passes bill to make daylight saving time permanent

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Could state Rep. Dan Laursen’s time have come?

In his fourth attempt to put Wyoming on a track to end its twice-a-year time changes, Laursen finally scored a victory on Monday: The state House of Representatives passed his bill, which calls for the state to be placed on daylight saving time throughout the entire year. House Bill 14 cleared the chamber on a 35-23 vote and now awaits action in the Senate.

However, even if the legislation passes both bodies and is signed by the governor, Wyoming would still face a long process before it could ditch the time change. As spelled out in the bill, Wyoming would only switch to permanent daylight saving time if at least three neighboring states also join the cause. And even then, state officials would still need permission from the federal government to switch time zones.

Laursen said he knows legislators in bordering states are also working on the issue.

“I think if we pass this, the other states may push harder knowing Wyoming has,” Laursen said in an email.

Ultimately, he thinks it would be better if Congress simply eliminated the time change nationwide, but “more states need to prove they are very interested in having this dealt with by passing a bill.”

In proposing the measure, Laursen has said he believes springing forward to daylight saving time in March and falling back to standard time in November is hard on workers, the elderly, children and even pets.

“I have brought this bill quite a few times … so I’m really excited we got it to the floor and we can shine some light on it,” Laursen said in introducing the measure on the House floor last week — prompting some boos and laughter from his colleagues.

As the Powell Republican explained, the change would mean an extra hour of
darkness on winter mornings, between November and March.

“A lot of people say that’s not good for our kids ... to go to school, but the way it is right now, ... they go to school in the dark and they come home in the dark,” Laursen said. “At least this way, maybe they’ll come home in the light.”

Amid a relatively brief and generally light-hearted debate, representatives did raise some concerns with the idea.

“With all due respect to my good colleague [Laursen], ... I prefer my daylight in the morning,” said Rep. Andy Schwartz, D-Jackson, who voted against the measure.

A couple representatives also questioned how it would work for folks who live close to the border and, during the winter months, might wind up changing time zones when they do business in a neighboring state.

Laursen noted that North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska are already split between the Central and Mountain time zones and “they seem to figure out where they’re at when to go to the doctor or the airport when they’re close to that line.”

“I would guess we could do the same,” he said.

Backers of the bill didn’t offer substantial comments, but got in a couple quips.

“We’re burning daylight here,” said Rep. Bill Henderson, a Cheyenne Republican and a bill supporter. “I’d just like to say, ‘Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.’”

Offered another supporter, Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, “I’m telling you, it’s time.”

Local Reps. Jamie Flitner, R-Greybull, and Sandy Newsome, R-Cody, voted against HB 14, while Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, was excused at the time of the vote.

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