Lawmakers support daylight saving time year-round

LINCOLN — After years of trying, the Nebraska Legislature appears poised to take a first step toward ending the tyranny of the twice-yearly clock change.

State Senator Tom Briese of Albion has again proposed keeping Nebraska with DST if Congress and a third neighboring state join with Nebraska to pass that law.

Legislative Bill 143 had its hearing Wednesday before the Committee on Governmental, Military and Veterans Affairs.

“It seems like everyone in the state hates changing their watch twice a year,” Briese said. “This practice, changing our watches, is actually hurting and killing people.”

Researchers have blamed the annual shifts between standard time and daylight saving time for the increase in the number of automobile accidents, heart attacks, workplace injuries and medical dosing errors.

Add to that the general disdain for weather changes from parents with young children and workers who are cranky about lost sleep, and you have a recipe for change, Briese said.

Beyond that, Briese and his advocates argue that adding another hour of sunlight a day during the winter months has potential economic benefits. First of all: people could make more purchases.

Briese cited a JP Morgan study that found people make nearly 2 percent more purchases on their credit cards in cities that got an extra hour of daylight during the winter.

Consumers spend about $80 billion a year in Nebraska, he said, so retailers, businesses and the state’s tax purse could see the impact of people spending another $530 million.

Joe Kohout of the Nebraska Golf Alliance said an extra hour of daylight in the evening means more people would play golf at Nebraska’s more than 300 9- and 18-hole courses.

One opponent, Nebraska Broadcasters Association president Jim Timm, testified that television and radio stations whose audiences cross state lines, in places like Chadron and Omaha, would have difficulty scheduling shows under a patchwork of state laws. Timm said the broadcasters’ association would prefer federal action, for uniformity.

LB 143 continues to garner bipartisan support, including Senator Megan Hunt of Omaha, Senator Danielle Conrad of Lincoln, Senator Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha, and Senator John Lowe of Kearney.

Hunt said the drive to stop changing watches generates more support calls than any other issue. The public wants change, she said, and so do you.

“It’s a real bipartisan bill,” Hunt said.

In written testimony, the committee received 22 letters of support, nine against, and one neutral.

What’s different this year is the momentum from 19 other states that have passed similar laws, Briese said.

LB 143 requires two things to happen before Nebraskans can stop changing their watches.

First, Congress must pass a bill that gives states the flexibility to choose to keep daylight saving time year-round. Currently, federal law allows states to change their clocks or choose standard time.

Congress has proposed several bills in recent years to that effect, Briese said, and the likelihood of passage increases every time a new state like Nebraska enters the picture.

Last year, the Senate passed a bill allowing for the change in March 2023, but the House did not.

Second, LB 143 requires three neighboring states to pass a similar law. Wyoming and Colorado have already done it, so it’s up to Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri or Kansas.

All four introduced legislation last year to enact the change, but like Nebraska, they have yet to pass it.

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