Kafer: Time for no change when it comes to Colorado’s daylight saving time change

There’s still time to change the time change. Three weeks from now we will lose an hour of precious sleep turning the clocks forward to daylight saving time. We should not go gentle into that short night. The Colorado Statehouse should pass Senate Bill 105 which would put the state on daylight time year-round with federal approval.

It’s an idea whose time has come. This week, the Utah Senate passed a bill to put the state on permanent daylight time. If it becomes law, our western neighbor will join states like Florida, Oregon, and Washington that have already done so pending congressional action. Next year, the European Union will ditch the time switch and let member states choose summer or winter time. If Congress passes the Sunshine Protection Act, U.S. states will have the same option. Currently, permanent Standard Time — as Arizona, Hawaii, and most U.S. territories have adopted — is the only alternative to the status quo. It’s time for a change.

Lawmakers believed, once upon a time, that a biannual time change would save energy during wartime. Following Germany’s lead, Congress adopted a spring forward-fall back law during World War I. Deeply unpopular, Congress repealed the law after the war ended only to revive it during the second world war. After the war ended, states and local jurisdictions adopted a hodgepodge of conflicting policies. Broadcasters, businesses, airlines, and nearly everyone else were having quite a time making sense of it all. Iowa, for example, had 23 different spring forward-fall back dates and St. Paul Minnesota sprang forward two weeks before its twin Minneapolis. To save time, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in1966 making the biannual time change standard across the country.

Unfortunately, people still have a hard time with it. According to a 2014 University of Colorado study, switching time twice a year was correlated with more than 300 deaths over a decade from auto accidents, heart attacks and other health issues. A 2012 University of Alabama Birmingham study found a 10% increase in heart attacks on the Monday and Tuesday after spring-forward Sunday. According to Finnish researchers, incidents of stroke are 8% higher during that Monday and Tuesday. The risk is greater for cancer patients and people over 65 years of age. The springtime change can also trigger migraines for those who are predisposed to them.

As for energy savings — the original justification for clock swapping — turns out it is negligible. Research shows the change saves a little on lighting, but electricity use for heating and cooling goes up.

Despite all the reasons for chucking the change, lawmakers have had a devil of a time doing it. Former Sen. Hank Brown, then Colorado’s 4th Congressional District representative, introduced bill in 1988 to grant states the ability to remain on summer hours. The bill languished. That same year then-state Rep. Jeanne Faatz and state Sen. Bill Schroeder proposed legislation to allow Colorado to remain on daylight time pending federal approval. It, too, went nowhere. Similar efforts failed in committee over the past couple of years. Perhaps they were ahead of their time.

Former state Sen. Greg Brophy, who has championed locking the clock since 2011, is hopeful that the time has come. “We may have finally hit critical mass,” he told me, “When the Democrats in committee are seriously considering a Republican bill, that’s something.” He also noted that legislation in Congress is supported by prominent Democrats and Republicans and the president. Such bipartisanship isn’t exactly commonplace right now. Brophy believes lawmakers are finally putting their constituents’ concerns over that of industries like the ski lobby which historically have opposed uniform time legislation.

Whether state and federal lawmakers can make these changes before March 8, time will tell. Since time and tide wait for no man, now is the time to act.

Krista Kafer is a weekly Denver Post columnist. Follow her on Twitter: @kristakafer.