WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The time to fall back is upon us, with most of the country getting ready to return to standard time.
This year, the day to roll clocks back by an hour falls on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. The official time for the change is 2 a.m.
Daylight saving time is supposed to more accurately reflect the actual daylight hours of the day. (In order to accomplish that, we spring forward an hour. This year, we did that on March 12.)
The practice has followed us since the early 1900s when it was introduced as a wartime measure during World War I. It was repealed in 1919, then brought back in 1942 during World War II. Congress later passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966 to make the bi-annual changing of the clocks the norm. We briefly tried daylight saving time year-round in 1973, but then-President Gerald Ford signed a bill in 1974 to put the U.S. back on standard time for four months.
Ever since then, we’ve had a strange history of grappling with daylight saving time.
Why do we still observe daylight saving time?
There have been numerous attempts to put a stop to daylight saving time, even within the last year.
In 2023 alone, lawmakers in 29 states introduced legislation to end the practice, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In most cases, those efforts have failed or stalled.
So far this year, legislation related to daylight saving time has been introduced in 29 states, the NCSL reports. While many are stalled in the state legislature, many failed to pass. A House bill in Texas has been stalled in the Senate since May. In Oklahoma, the Senate passed a bill to establish year-round daylight saving time and referred it to the House, which has taken no action on it. The state also adopted another measure supporting the federal Sunshine Protection Act (more on that in a moment).
Some of those states that have enacted legislation or resolutions within the last year also include Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Kentucky and Mississippi have approved legislation, while Massachusetts has commissioned studies on the matter. Voters in California authorized a change last year, but no legislative action was taken.
Regardless of whether the bills have or have not passed, or whether they want permanent daylight saving time or standard time, there isn’t much hope for states locking the clocks without Congress taking federal action.
Under the Uniform Time Act, there are only two ways the U.S. can ditch daylight saving time changes. Either Congress has to enact a federal law, or a state or local government has to get permission from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to stay on permanent standard time — which is what the U.S. observes between November and March — and not permanent daylight saving time.
There have been multiple bills introduced in Congress this year that would stop the changing of the clocks.
In March, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., brought forth the Sunshine Protection Act of 2023, which would make daylight saving time permanent, effective in November. The bill received bipartisan support in the Senate before being referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, where it has remained there ever since.
In a statement to Nexstar last month, Rubio said, “This bill has bipartisan support, and I’m hopeful that we can finally get this done.”
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., introduced a bill to allow states to observe daylight saving time year-round. Rep. Ralph Norman, R-SC, brought forth a similar bill that also called for a study on implementing daylight saving time year-round. Both were referred to the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce in March and remain there.
“It’s frustrating that the committee won’t bring it for a hearing or markup because it’s such a bipartisan, widely supported issue. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe, daylight savings affects everyone,” Norman said in a statement shared with Nexstar via email.
Rogers didn’t respond to Nexstar’s request for comment.
Ultimately, without Congressional action, a future without the twice-a-year tradition of changing the clocks seems dim.