Editorial Roundup: Permanent daylight saving time: An idea whose time has not come again

Published 8:50 pm Friday, April 1, 2022

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Minnesotans’ willingness to give permanent daylight saving time a try back in the 1970s was understandable.

Consumers were reeling from that era’s steep inflation. Energy prices were particularly painful, with oil shortages the fallout from Middle East producers flexing their might.

No wonder 68% of those surveyed in a Minnesota Poll published Dec. 2, 1973, said they favored a shift to year-round daylight saving time (DST). If a simple clock adjustment could reduce energy demand and yield savings, why not give it a try? That same rationale led the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to leave clocks one hour ahead year-round beginning in early 1974.

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Three months after this shift, Minnesotans had had a major change of heart. In a Minnesota Poll published March 20, 1974, 58% of those surveyed said they preferred standard time during the winter.

That historical reality should throw cold water on ill-informed modern-day proposals for a permanent DST shift.

If it didn’t work in 1974, it’s unclear why it would work now.

Yet there are bills with broad bipartisan support at the state and federal levels to make this switch again. One of them, the “Sunshine Protection Act,” cleared the U.S. Senate with little debate but unanimous consent on March 15. It would make DST permanent beginning in 2023.

At the Minnesota Legislature, there are bills, SF 149 and HF 72, calling for this as well. Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, has long been a champion of ending the current “spring forward, fall back” clock shift. A companion bill in the House has a list of authors that includes prominent DFLers and fiery conservatives.

The state legislation, if passed, would be dependent on a congressional approval, which is sensible. Things would get confusing if Minnesota made this switch but other states did not.

Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 26

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Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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