While it’s nice to get some extra sunshine on summer evenings, many people dread the time changes that Daylight Saving Time necessitates in March and November. Sleep schedules become disrupted, coffee consumption skyrockets, and many people show up to work and appointments an hour early or an hour late, depending on which way the clock is moving.
And that’s why one California legislator wants to put an end to Daylight Saving Time in California.
We’ll let Craig give some background and give a brief history of Daylight Saving Time: “Let’s go ahead and talk about this new bill, 2496, which is gonna do away with Daylight Savings Time… So essentially, Daylight Savings Time is the second Sunday in March, then we spring forward an hour. And then the first Sunday in November the clocks go back an hour.
“The idea is that the history of it… it was first used in [parts of] Canada in 1908… and then Germany was the first country to use Daylight Savings Time [throughout the entirety of the country]. They did it April 30, 1916, and the rationale was to minimize use of artificial lighting in order to save fuel during World War I.
“The Romans actually had some form of [time changes]. The Roman water clocks used different scales for different months of the year, because daylight changes… the winter solstice is December 21st, and then we get more daylight, two minutes a day, up until the [summer solstice], which is in June. And then at that point after June, the days get shorter.
“So then, Ben Franklin was a proponent of it, and he joked to the Parisians that they could economize their candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier.”
Ed Schade broke in to teasingly point out the hypocrisy of Franklin’s suggestion: “This from a man who slept in notoriously, despite his [advocation of] ‘early to bed, early to rise’… he was never up early.”
Craig then went on to detail the start of Daylight Saving Time in the United States: “So then, Daylight Savings Time was used in the United States for the first time in 1918, Woodrow Wilson began that at the end of World War I. And then it was repealed seven months later. And then we had Daylight Savings Time which was called ‘War Time.’ And that was from February 9th, 1942 through September 30th, 1945, because of World War II. So we had Eastern War Time, Central War Time, Mountain War Time, and Pacific War Time.”
When ‘War Time’ ended at the end of World War II, the states were allowed to control time within their borders as they liked. In fact, in some states, individual cities instituted time change policies, while the rest of the state within which they were located did not.
Craig: “And then basically, we didn’t have uniformity, and it was kind of hard because we had all these saving times, and some used them, some didn’t. And so there was a problem with buses, and trains, and planes, and broadcasting. Because, if you said it’s on at 7, you didn’t know exactly when that was because there wasn’t unanimity as to who had what time, right?
“So from 1945 to 1966, there was a bit of confusion. And then ultimately it was codified [at a national level], and now we have the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which controls [Daylight Saving Time and dictates that it] starts on the second Sunday of March. But the thing about that federal law, because there’s supremacy, they said the states can make their own choices. If they don’t want to go to Daylight Saving Time, they don’t have to.”
“And now the proposal in California is AB 2496, to say, ‘Hey, we don’t need Daylight Savings Time anymore.’”
Ed Schade: “I would agree with it. I think Arizona doesn’t use Daylight Savings Time, nor does Hawaii.”
Craig: “So Proposition 12 in 1949 is what gave us Daylight Savings Time in California. And the people that were in favor of it said that, ‘It’s for public health, we’ll have industrial efficiency, we’ll limit juvenile delinquency, we’ll save water, we’ll aid farmers’… and then the opponents said, ‘It’s going to burden housewives. The feeding schedule of their children will become disarranged. It will disrupt railway shipping, cut into movie revenue, and lead to reduced church attendance.’ The arguments have changed quite a bit!”
It may well be that when most of the country goes to move their clocks back an hour on November 6th, that it will be the last time that California ever does so. Perhaps once again California will prove to be a bellwether, and soon much of the rest of the country will follow suit. Time will tell.