State Rep. Jason Isaac never really understood why we have to “spring forward” and “fall backward” every year.
So the Dripping Springs Republican decided to weigh in on the growing daylight-saving time debate in Texas — and lead the charge in the House to abolish the twice-a-year time-changing ritual.
“There’s 24 hours in a day and that’s how many we should have,” he said. “A lot of people are impacted by this.
“This is a man-made creation,” he said. “Why we adjust twice a year, I don’t understand.”
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Isaac said he’s ready to take the baton on this issue from state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, who initially filed a bill to end daylight-saving time in Texas but now must focus on other issues since being named chair of the House Pensions Committee.
Isaac said he’s already heard from a number of Texans who want to eliminate the system created decades ago to make the best use of daylight and conserve energy.
If Texas opts out of daylight-saving time, it would be one of only a few states to do so. Areas that don’t participate include Hawaii, most of Arizona (the Indian reservations there do observe it) and U.S. territories such as American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Similar pushes to end daylight-saving time are going on in other states, including California, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, Washington and Wisconsin.
This year, daylight-saving time starts March 12 and ends Nov. 5.
“The fact is, daylight-saving time is an antiquated regulation that no longer serves our state’s needs,” Isaac said.
The Texas plan
Isaac recently filed House Bill 2400, which would exempt Texas from daylight-saving time.
He also said he would like to bring El Paso into the same time zone as the rest of the state, while he’s at it.
“Let’s unite and become all one time zone,” he said.
He said this is a bigger issue than some realize, since some studies suggest that daylight-saving time changes can lead to an increase in heart attacks and car accidents.
Not only that, but disrupting sleep patterns this way causes problems such as tardiness, fatigue, decreased motivation and decreased alertness, he said.
“A lot of people are impacted by this,” he said. “It does mess with our sleep patterns and it takes about a week to adjust.”
And the interest in this issue, he said, is “unbelievable.”
Flynn noted that he received texts, calls and emails from tens of thousands of Texans about this issue. And in recent weeks, Isaac said he’s received more than 20,000 responses.
“This is one of those things that everyone has an opinion on,” Flynn, who signed on as a joint author of Isaac’s bill, has said. “When you have so many people responding, you have to react.”
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, is among the lawmakers who have said they support ending daylight-saving time.
State Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, has filed Senate Bill 238, also to get rid of daylight-saving time, to be heard in the upper chamber. That measure has been referred to the Senate State Affairs Committee.
Dueling groups have even formed on Facebook — Campaign to Opt Out of Daylight Saving Time in Tx and Save Daylight Saving Time in Texas — and thousands of people are “liking” the pages, although more “like” the Campaign to Opt Out of Daylight Saving Time page.
‘Annoyance at best’
Supporters say daylight-saving time is no longer as useful as it once was and should end. They say switching to one time in Texas would help children heading to school in the morning and possibly help electric companies that update systems to account for the time change potentially avoid erroneously over-billing customers.
Critics argue that ending daylight-saving time would eliminate what some Texans say is their favorite part of the year — the extra time in the evening when it’s light outside. And they say Texans could end up using more energy year-round, hiking electric and gas use and potentially leading to shortages, blackouts and electrical failures.
Daylight-saving time traces back to when it was infrequently used during World Wars I and II as part of efforts to save fuel. President Franklin D. Roosevelt referred to it as “War Time” during World War II.
In 1966, Congress formally set one pattern for daylight saving time — under the Uniform Time Act of 1966. President Lyndon Johnson set daylight-saving time to begin the last Sunday of April and to end the last Sunday of October.
In 2005, President George W. Bush signed a broad energy bill that extended daylight saving time, starting it on the second Sunday in March and ending it on the first Sunday in November. Any state that didn’t want to participate could pass a law opting out of it.
Isaac said he doesn’t know if the bill to end daylight-saving time will pass or even reach the House floor for consideration this session.
But he hopes it does.
“Daylight-saving time has become an annoyance at best and a burden to our state at worst,” Isaac said. “It’s time to let the sun set on daylight-saving time.”