Editorial Note: After an amazing spike in traffic over the time-change weekend, I'm guessing we are now back to just our devoted readers. Below is a letter I was asked to provide, and couldn’t think of any reason not to just post it publicly.
March 14, 2019
Dear Representative Michele Hoitenga,
I am very sorry I’m not able to join you in person today. I very much enjoyed my visit to Lansing to testify when (then) Rep. Peter Lucido brought up a bill addressing Daylight Saving Time clock changing.
The incomparable Peter Lucido invited me to speak about Daylight Saving Time in Lansing in 2017.
When the Michigan legislature last looked at this issue, it was somewhat hypothetical because the federal government seemed unlikely to pass legislation that would enable a state to remain in Daylight Saving Time year-round.
That has changed.
During the 2018 session, the Florida Legislature passed, and the (then) governor signed a bill that would automatically put that state into year-round DST as soon as the federal government made that possible.
Sen. Marco Rubio immediately announced plans to introduce federal legislation to do just that. And the governor at the time is now the Senator from Florida, and he is now helping Rubio to get that bill passed in Congress.
I have spoken to senior staff in Sen. Rubio’s office, and I can tell you that they are going to be working on this issue very seriously, and I think you can expect to see some significant bipartisan support in the coming days.
And the president recently tweeted support for the idea of year-round DST.
Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2019
Supporters of the president and fans of clock sanity were elated at the tweet, naturally. But even some of the president’s detractors welcomed him to their way of thinking.
My official statement on President Trump supporting permanent DST - "Permanent Daylight Saving Time is picking up momentum throughout our country and is not a partisan issue...just an issue whose TIME has come. Additionally, a broken clock is even right twice a day." #waleg https://t.co/2mHKR274cO— Marcus Riccelli (@marcusriccelli) March 11, 2019
When I testified in Lansing two years ago, I spoke at great length about the health consequences of changing the clocks twice per year. All that research still stands, and is available here.
Now that the notion of this happening is gaining traction, some arguments against change are re-surfacing.
Chief among these is the idea that it might be dangerous for school children to have to go to school in the dark. Allow me to address that one directly.
In short, there is no scientific evidence that children are put in more danger. None.
People often say that when this was “tried” in the 1970s, that “thousands” of school children were killed or injured. That simply is not true.
It is true that the experiment in 1974 was a colossal failure, but that’s mainly because the government mandated a switch to DST starting in January. Switching clocks in the middle of the winter was then, and is now, a rediculously bad idea.
The U.S. Department of Transportation studied the issue extensively, and there was no evidence that bus-stop deaths went up at all, in spite of the change in the middle of winter.
Mich. House Bill 4303
I understand that you have decided to amend your bill so that it would allow Michigan to stay in Daylight Saving Time year-round. I take no position on that vs. staying in Standard Time year-round. I do think that it is proper for the Michigan legislature to make that determination for the people of your state.
If schools know that such a change is coming, you might encourage local school boards to be able to have a science- and data-based discussion about bell times. The trend there, clearly, is that later start times, especially for high school, makes for more rested students and more learning.
In conclusion, you have an opportunity to pass a bill that will save lives, improve business conditions, and end a source of frustration for so many Michigan residents. You will also be in a position to be among the first states to be able to take advantage of any potential changes to federal law, giving your state more time to properly plan for changes that will be coming nationwide.
In short, you can be part of making history, rather than having to catch up to the changes that are, inevitably, coming.