While tens of thousands of Utahns aren't happy about having to change their clocks twice a year, a legislative committee Wednesday couldn't get behind a proposal that would seek to have the state petition the federal government to abolish daylight saving time and switch the state permanently to Central Standard Time year round.
In the 2014 session a bill passed that directed the Governor's Office of Economic Development to gauge the public's interest in changing from daylight saving time. The study included town hall meetings as well as an unscientific online straw poll that received responses from more than 27,000 Utahns—the majority of whom wanted daylight saving Changed.
But members of the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivision Committee were stymied when it became clear how much effort and study would be required to shift Utah's time zone.
While a house bill also addresses the issue in seeking to do away with daylight saving time, Republican Senator Aaron Osmond's Senate Concurrent Resolution 1
, would take a different approach and seek to petition the federal government, specifically the United State Department of Transportation, to allow Utah to switch permanently to Central Standard Time.
Doing so would require significant study by the Utah Department of Transportation into the effects on transportation and commerce with surrounding states. While Osmond's bill has a fiscal note of $5,000 associated with the cost of applying to the federal government for the waiver, a representative of the Utah Department of Transportation said the cost of study would exceed that amount.
Despite the hurdles, Osmond believed moving to Central Standard Time would be ideal since it would provide an extra hour of daylight in the fall and would address the concern of many Utahns about having to change the time every year.
But it was not without critics, many of whom worried the lost hour of light in the winter mornings would contribute to injuries, especially to children trying to board their school buses in the morning.
Sterling Brown of the Utah Farm Bureau spoke in favor of daylight saving for the sake of the farm industry, which he says includes roughly 15,000 farmers and ranchers in Utah that utilize daylight savings time to get farm chores done before heading out to regular jobs they have to juggle to pay the bills.
“We want to stay the course,” Brown said.
The issue that confounded several on the committee was understanding the full scope of what it would cost the state to petition for a time zone change, an application that might not be approved by the federal government even after extensive—and potentially expensive—study funded at taxpayer expense.
“If we don't have that information then the next to last thing I want is to put this off for another year,” said Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City. “Which comes just after the last thing I want to do, which is pass a bill where we don't fully understand the consequences.”
The committee eventually agreed that the bill was not ready to advance and voted to send it back to the Rules Committee. After some tinkering, the Rules Committee could send the bill out for a new committee hearing.
To read SCR 1 click here. To contact Sen. Osmond about this resolution click here. To find your legislator to contact about this resolution click here.
For more updates from the hill visit CityWeekly.net and follow @EricSPeterson and @ColbyFrazierLP on Twitter.