Archive for Friday, March 11, 2016

Kansas senator seeks to end daylight saving time

March 11, 2016

When you get elected to the Kansas Legislature, you can introduce any bill you want. And when you're the head of a powerful budget committee, you can be pretty confident that your bill will get a hearing.

But even some Statehouse veterans were a little surprised that Sen. Ty Masterson, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, chose to introduce a bill to do away with daylight saving time in Kansas.

Actually, Masterson said during a hearing Thursday that he doesn't care whether we do away with standard time or daylight saving time.

"I would just like to not have the shift," he said. "I'm ready for the clock to stop changing, along with many of my constituents."

According to the website, daylight saving time began in Europe during World War I as an energy-saving strategy in the winter. By moving clocks forward one hour, offices and factories didn't use as much fuel to light buildings in the late afternoon.

The United States didn't adopt the practice until 1918, but it soon proved to be unpopular, because people in those days rose earlier and went to bed earlier, and it was soon repealed, with a congressional override of President Woodrow Wilson's veto.

During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt reinstated daylight saving time year-round, referring to it as "war time." But there was no federal law mandating it, and so when the war ended in 1945 states were free to keep it or not, and its use was inconsistent across the country.

That apparently caused problems for the broadcasting industry, not to mention airlines and railroads. And so in 1966, Congress adopted the Uniform Time Act, calling for daylight saving time to begin and end on specified days. It's been amended a few times since then, most recently by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, when Congress decided it should run from 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March (which is this coming Sunday) until 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November.

States, however, retain the right to exempt themselves from daylight saving time by an act of the legislature.

Masterson said he thinks there's no justification for daylight saving time anymore.

"It's not about whether you're on daylight savings or standard time. It's about messing with clock changes," he said. "There are studies that show productivity changes. There's not an energy value with it anymore. All your tractors have headlights on them; you can get out there and plow in the dark.

"The purposes have changed; the popularity has dropped. States are moving in that direction. And with as many children as I have, I see a lot of production drop that week," he said.

Masterson did acknowledge that one of the biggest reasons to vote against the bill might be the criticism lawmakers will take for dealing with such a trivial matter in the midst of all the other issues facing Kansas.

Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, who chairs the Federal and State Affairs Committee where the bill was heard, said he initially didn't think the bill was a priority when Masterson first introduced it last year.

"And then I traveled my district, and people back home have noticed that bill is in my committee, and they're asking me, 'So why don't you at least have a hearing on it?'" Ostmeyer said. "Well, I decided to have the hearing, and now people from home are saying, 'Is that all you guys have to do? Get your butts back home."

Sen. Kay Wolf, R-Prairie Village, said she supported the bill "because I too hate changing."

"Either way, if we can stay the same, I'm very supportive of it," she said.


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