Look, I was a reporter for a long time, I get it. It's hard to do a story substantially different than what everyone else is doing.
So let me make it really easy for everyone:
The cause of fixing Daylight Saving Time clock changing just took a ginormous step forward with the passage of a resolution in California calling for an end to changing the clocks twice per year. The California resolution is based on the model DST resolution I first published in February of 2015.
If you look at the coverage of the work of the state legislature, the resolution passing may seem like something of a footnote to the news that a bill failed.
But the bill, as readers of this site know, was doomed long, long ago. That it died last week is not news. It was dead before it was introduced, it's just that the people who saw the body moving around thought that it had a chance at life. It never did.
The big news is that the resolution passed when the bill failed.
Now typically a resolution has no power, it's just an honorary thing. That's what makes it powerful! We now have proof of what I've been advocating for a long time on this blog: Legislators are going to have a tough time passing a bill that will probably violate Federal Law, but they'll have no problem voting for a resolution because they think it will have no power.
But this resolution is special. It has a hidden superpower. This resolution is The Little Train That Could.
It was essentially unanimous in every single vote. Here is an issue that nearly everyone agrees on, regardless of party. Any legislator who has ever asked constituents about it will tell you that it is a huge issue that brings up great passions.
There was only one vote against the resolution in the California Senate from a guy named Jim Nielsen, who is the senator from the agricultural community of Gerber, in the north-central part of the state. Lots of agriculture there, and good for Nielsen for standing up for the farmers, even if he may be a bit off on the facts.
“Our crops have gotten accustomed to that. They’ve in fact been bred to deal with that longer harvest season,” Nielsen said while arguing against the bill. “Don’t fix something that’s not broken.”
He said that in his arguments against the bill, and his side won the day and they did kill that doomed bill.
Crops, meanwhile, may have been bred for a longer season, but DST doesn't have anything to do with seasons, only with the hours in a given day.
But, while Nielsen's arguments against the bill may have worked on the bill, they didn't carry over to the resolution. There were 17 "no" votes on the bill, but only one "no" vote on the resolution, from Nielsen.
(Sen. Nielsen, if you are reading this… Most people think that DST was put in place to help the farmers, but that's never been true. In the excellent book, Seize The Daylight, the author, David Prerau, dug up the history that farmers were against the change when DST was first proposed, but the big business interests in Boston claimed that the farmers liked it. I see here that you come from agriculture, so you know better than others that real farmers work from before sunrise until after sunset, no matter what the clock says. I understand your desire to represent agriculture, but you'll do it best by helping the sons and daughters of farmers to have more daylight after school to be able to help out on the family farm while there's still some daylight.)
(Oh, one other thing, Sen. Nielsen… DST is — in fact — "broken." It was started by the Germans during WWI and it's bad for kids, victims of crime, people with bad hearts, productivity, the environment… the list goes on and on. DST is broken, indeed.)
What's Next for the DST Resolution?
So, now that this historic resolution has passed in California, what happens next?
Well, the only official thing that happens is that this resolution will get sent to Congress and the President.
Unfortunately, getting Congress to do anything right now is pretty much impossible.
So, I will personally make sure that the other state legislatures are aware of this.
But to win this fight, I may need some help.
- If you are a citizen concerned about this, contact your local legislators and let them know that if they want to pass a resolution that can really help fix things — a resolution that already passed in California with huge bipartisan support — they can do that.
- If you are a teacher, consider doing a unit on DST, and deliver the results of your students' research and this model resolution to your legislature if you visit the state capitol, or if you have a legislator visit your class.
- If you are a journalist, consider doing a story about this movement. Your readers care about this issue, and are interested in real solutions.
The legislators can write the resolution however they want, but they are certainly welcome to copy the model DST resolution from this site, or the California resolution, or they can start from scratch. As long as the intent of the resolution is that the legislature and the state express a desire to end DST clock-changing, it will do the trick. If you think the people of your state for one reason or another want standard time year-round, you are welcome to advocate for that, but for nearly every state you'll find that year round Daylight Saving Time will always be the most popular. Looking at the maps as much as I have, I really think only Michigan could potentially make the case that they'd be better off staying in Standard Time, which would essentially mean they'd join the same time zone as Wisconsin when the country switches to permanent Daylight Saving Time.
The only thing that I think is off about the California proposal is that it lacks an instruction to send the approved copy to the other states who have yet to pass such a resolution. Right now that's all of them, except for Arizona and Hawaii, which are grandfathered in to staying on the same time year-round. But as I said, I'll be doing all I can to make sure the other states all know about this resolution.
Change is hard. It takes a time and work, but thanks to Representative Jay Obernolte, the Assembly and Senate of California, it will be just a bit easier to push for change that can make a difference for the entire country.