If you’re struggling to count sheep an hour earlier than you’re used to this week, or reaching for an extra cup of cobweb-cleaner in the morning, some Colorado legislators have just the bills for you. Again.
In an effort nearly as regular as the heralded — or revulsed — ritual of flipping the clock forward every spring for daylight saving time, and back again in the fall for standard time, some state lawmakers are hoping to lock Colorado’s clocks in one or the other.
It’s fallen every prior attempt, most recently in 2020, but the outlook on locking the clock is a bit sunnier this go around, sponsoring Sen. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village, said. Lobbyists for airline companies, a traditional opponent of the effort, aren’t outright opposing the measure for example (though that shouldn’t be read as support, either). And, for the first time in decades, Congress has made moves on the matter.
“There is a growing national moment, a growing understanding by folks who have opposed these kinds of bills in the past, that something will pass this year,” Bridges said Tuesday.
In Colorado, the effort is two-pronged, and Bridges said conversations are ongoing which one takes the forefront: Senate Bill 135 would ask voters this November whether they’d like to keep Colorado in standard time, while House Bill 1297 would move Colorado to constant daylight saving time, if the federal government allows it.
If Colorado were to stop moving its clocks around, sunrises and sunsets would each move by about three hours between the equinoxes. In the extremes, under a constant daylight saving, sunrise wouldn’t be until 8 a.m. or later from Nov. 30 until Feb. 8, but with a trade-off of the sun setting after 5 p.m.
Under a constant standard time, the sun would rise before 5 a.m. from May 1 to Aug. 3, with the sun setting no later than 7:30 p.m. in that time.
U.S. Sen. Bennet on “The greatest thing that ever happened”
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate cast its lot, and potentially the nation’s, in with constant daylight saving. The body voted unanimously to approve the Sunshine Approval Act.
“Speaking personally, I think it’s the greatest thing that ever happened,” U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said in an interview, laughing a moment before adding. “I think it is great and I think it has outlived its usefulness.”
The bill still needs approval in the U.S. House of Representatives and, if it clears that hurdle, President Joe Biden’s signature. If approved, it would make next year’s spring forward the last for the foreseeable future.
Colorado’s U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Silt, is a co-sponsor on the House version of the bill.
Colorado’s other Congressional delegates either did not respond to a request for comment or said they were still interested in hearing from constituents on the matter.
“While this isn’t an issue I have thought much about, I’ve heard from dozens of constituents this week with strong feelings opposing our current practice of changing the clocks twice a year,” U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, said in a statement. “I will keep their views in mind as the House reviews the legislation which passed the Senate and considers the best path forward.”
While its future lays over the horizon, it won’t be the first time Congress has tried to keep clocks sprung forward. It had approved permanent daylight saving in the 1970s to try to blunt an energy crisis rattling the country but soon reverted to rotating times when public opinion turned against it, according to the New York Times.
Will Colorado lock the clock? And which way? Backer just wants “the madness to end”
In Colorado, the two bills will be put on hold until probably next month while sponsors weigh their level of support and if one method should be prioritized over the other.
For Bridges, who is sponsoring both bills, he didn’t favor daylight time or standard time — he just wants “the madness to end.”
“I’m so tired,” he laughed Tuesday morning, as body clocks across the country continued to adjust. “I scheduled a meeting (Monday) for 8 a.m., like an idiot, and this morning had a 7:30 a.m. (meeting) … I’m pretty sure the first 10 minutes I just rambled because my brain was not functioning.”
State Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, signed onto the bill that would let the state switch to daylight saving time. He worried standard time would create too much of a time gap for Coloradans whose jobs have ties to the East Coast. He said he didn’t know the U.S. Senate would take up the effort, too, when he signed on to it, and its backing makes the conversation all the more relevant.
“People are done with time changes,” he said.
Bridges isn’t the first state legislator to try to lock the clock, and he acknowledges its fraught history.
The ski industry has historically been a chief opponent to the measures, and is officially opposed to the standard time measure, but wanting amendments to the year-round daylight saving time bill, according to lobbyist filings. The spokesperson for Colorado Ski Country USA, which represents 23 ski areas, declined to comment on this year’s efforts, saying they’re still working on it. In 2020, its public affairs director, Chris Linsmayer, said the extra hour in winter mornings and the extra hour in summer evenings worked for them.
Spokespeople for United Airlines and Frontier Airlines, which registered opposition or that the Colorado senate bill should be amended, declined to comment.
The Colorado Parent Teachers Association, a 20,000-member statewide group representing parents, teachers and families, hasn’t staked out a position on the time change, President Staci Ruddy said.
She worries about more self-sufficient kids being expected to walk, bike or drive to school in the dark during a winter of daylight saving time, but also acknowledged the circadian chaos of mid-semester time changes. Conversely, there’s a lack of afternoon sun — not to mention families losing long summer evenings — under a constant standard time.
Just moving school start times back to compensate, like Denver Schools did recently, has its appeal, Ruddy said, though its effect on parents dropping off little ones before work and school bus schedules gives her pause. That struck her as more of a district-by-district solution.
“It’s just an imperfect situation,” Ruddy, whose day job is as an emergency room nurse, said. “I don’t know how to fix it.”
Denver Post reporter Alex Burness contributed to this report.
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