A unanimous Senate vote is not always wise
Does the Senate have nothing better to do than meddle with the annual nuisance of changing our clocks from standard time to Daylight Saving Time? Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), whom I generally admire, was the lead sponsor of the bill to make Daylight Savings Time (DST) permanent and immediately got a unanimous U.S. Senate vote. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) was the lead Democratic sponsor. Achieving bipartisanship is a good thing — right?
Have they never heard of unintended consequences? The bill is now in the House for consideration.
I was unaware of the Senate approval until receiving the following email survey last week from my Virginia congressman:
The U.S. Senate recently passed a bill that would make Daylight Savings Time permanent.
What do you think of this idea?
Do you want to make daylight savings time permanent? Do you want to make standard time permanent? Do you want to keep going back and forth, like we do now?
Keep the Status Quo, Change Time Twice a Year
Make Daylight Savings Time Permanent
Make Standard Time Permanent
Doesn't Matter Which Time is Used, Just Pick One and Stop Changing Back and Forth
Although A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) has accomplished little to my liking, unlike his Senate colleagues, he at least had the forethought to ask for input from some of his constituents. I voted for option #1 "Keep the Status Quo, Change Time Twice a Year." However, an article in the Hill supported making DST permanent. Was I wrong in my opinion sent to McEachin?
I lived through the previous experiment with Congress making DST permanent in 1974. My logic for leaving it alone this time was best articulated by an article in the New York Post:
"Our current system, spring-to-fall DST followed by standard time in winter, is an excellent compromise. It provides DST's numerous benefits most of the year and avoids winter DST's many problems in the darkest, coldest months.
The Senate plan passed Tuesday, permanent daylight time, is not a new idea at all. It has already been tried across the entire United States, proved quite unpopular nationally and was quickly discontinued.
During a national energy crisis in 1974, the federal government initiated nationwide permanent DST for two years. But winter DST rapidly lost favor. People disliked going to work on very dark winter mornings. They especially detested sending children to school on very dark mornings, walking dark streets or waiting for buses on dark roads.
Polls showed DST popular for most months — but not November through February. Congress agreed with the national judgment and eliminated permanent DST — though the program would've automatically terminated after one more year.
Permanent daylight time makes already-late winter sunrises one hour later — New York, Chicago and San Francisco sunrises about 8:30 a.m.; Minneapolis, Detroit and Seattle sunrises about 9 a.m.; in some US areas sunrises after 9:30 a.m. Many would leave for work or school in full darkness.
Furthermore, under winter DST, mornings would also be colder — unpleasant everywhere and especially in more frigid areas. Many people would be out before sunrise, when it's coldest. (snip)
Permanent DST and permanent standard time have many drawbacks. The current, very reasonable compromise DST system brings great benefits throughout the year — and gives us the best of both."
One issue the Post article omitted is the fact that most new cars have clocks that are preprogrammed to change automatically from DST to standard time and vice versa. I don't know about your car, but it is a royal pain to manually reset the clocks in my two cars. Many of us will be forced to dust off our car owner's manual if this déjà vu event passes the House.