DENVER — The clocks officially moved forward by one hour over the weekend, following the longstanding tradition to "spring forward." However, some Colorado lawmakers are trying to get the clock to stop changing twice a year, with a bill to end daylight saving time in the state.
Senate bill 22-135 works to change Colorado to standard time permanently. However, the move would need to first be approved by the state legislature and then voters before the move would happen.
However, numerous state lawmakers, both Republican and Democrats, have tried unsuccessfully in previous sessions.
The implications of the time change
Health experts say the time change costs people an average of 40 minutes of sleep and can take a couple of weeks to fully adjust to because it disrupts a person’s natural circadian rhythm.
“It makes it potentially harder for us to fall asleep at night because our natural bedtime is all of a sudden, not the time that we need to fall asleep in order to get a full night of sleep,” said Dr. Katherina Green, the medical director of the sleep center at the University of Colorado.
Green is in the process of running several studies at her center looking at the impacts of poor sleep quality.
She says numerous other studies have been done around the effects of daylight saving time that show the change can be dangerous to overall health.
“There's a spike in emergency room visits and missed doctor's appointments the Monday after spring, daylight saving shift, and there's actually a huge spike in motor vehicle accidents and workplace accidents,” Green said.
From a strictly sleep and health perspective, Green agrees that getting rid of the time change could be beneficial.
The case for stopping the clock
In running the bill, Sen. Jeff Bridges, D-Greenwood Village; Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction; and Rep. Kathy Kipp, D-Fort Collins; join a long line of lawmakers who are trying to change the clocks through legislation.
SB-135 would stop the clock on standard time, which is the time the state observes during the winter. It means that there will be more daylight in the morning and less in the evening.
“For me, it's not about whether daylight time is better than standard time, I genuinely don't care,” Bridges said. “Just pick, we just need one or the other and we don't need to be changing the clocks.”
Because of the Uniform Time Act of 1966, though, states are only allowed to change to stay on standard time year-round.
However, 18 states in the country have passed legislation in recent years saying that if Congress allows them to switch to daylight saving time permanently, they will make the move. Those states are: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, South Carolina, Delaware, Ohio, Maine, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Idaho and California.
Colorado’s bill calls for a referred measure to be placed on the ballot for voters to decide whether standard time is acceptable.
A second yet to be introduced bill would take similar measures to other states saying that if Congress allows Colorado to switch to daylight saving time permanently, the state would do so.
“This is this irritating thing that you have to do twice a year because the government makes you do it,” Bridges said. “I just want to stop the madness. I just want the clocks to stop changing.”
The case against stopping the clock
Stopping the clocks may sound simple, however, for years business groups have been fighting against the idea and saying the change will affect the state’s economy.
Recreation industries have historically been opposed to the idea because of what it could mean for their bottom lines. The ski industry has been fighting against the idea in Colorado, both to a switch to year-round standard time and year-round daylight saving time.
The industry argues that changing the clock so that the sun rises later could be dangerous for their operations, forcing employees to start performing their early morning lift safety procedures, avalanche mitigation and terrain checks in the dark.
“This could cause skiers up to an hour of business that they're unlikely to make up at the end of the day and disappoint our core customers,” said Colorado Ski Industry director of public affairs Chris Linsmayer during a 2020 committee hearing on a previous bill attempt.
Linsmayer also expressed concerns during that 2020 testimony about the effect switching to standard time would affect the mountain resorts’ summer operations and limit its business. So year after year, ski industry lobbyists have advocated for the current time scheme to remain in place.
The golf industry has also historically opposed changes to the state’s current time scheme, arguing it would also negatively impact its bottom line.
Matt Bryant is the PGA general manager of the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club and says the sport has gotten a lot more interest over the past couple of years with the pandemic. Longer sunlight during the days means more tee times are available.
Bryant worries that switching to standard time year-round would cost the golf industry and his club an hour of business each day.
“Instead of the sun coming up at roughly 5:30 In the morning in the summertime, that would mean 4:30 a.m.,” he said. “You're not going to be filling those and then you start making you know any your neighbors not so happy when you get mowers and things like that out earlier in the morning.”
Golfers would also be losing an hour on the back end of the day since the sun would set earlier. Bryant would prefer if the clocks were either kept the way they currently are or switched to daylight saving time year-round.
Golf organizations have not yet taken a stance on the 2022 version of the bill. Numerous other organizations have come out in opposition, though.
Colorado Ski Country USA, the Colorado Competitive Council, Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Industry of Colorado have all come out in opposition to the bill.
“CHLA is opposed to SB22-135 to support our ski industry and airline partners. There really isn't much direct impact on hotel operations, but we need our ski areas and airlines to thrive and since they have concerns we are opposed,” a Colorado Hotel & Lodging Association spokesperson said in a statement.
Denver7 reached out to Colorado Ski Country multiple times to ask for either an interview or a statement and was denied.
If there’s one person who knows a lot about unsuccessfully running a time change bill, it’s former state Sen. Greg Brophy.
He began running bills to stop the time change after putting up a Facebook post several years ago and seeing the massive response from the public.
“I think I ran the bill three or four times. I tried it multiple different ways. I tried to do it as a referred measure,” Brophy said.
Each time, though the opposition was the same. Brophy says he doesn’t understand why the industry opposition to the idea is so prominent.
“It's a classic example of concentrated interests versus diffused interests. So, the diffused interests are all of us who were annoyed by it and the concentrated interests is one powerful group at the Capitol,” Brophy said.
Other attempts were made in 2011, 2017, 2019 and 2020 by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers as well as a ballot attempt.
Senate bill 135 is not a new idea. If it passes, though, it could have widespread impacts on sleep and the state economy. The bill faced its first committee test earlier this month where it was discussed but no action was ultimately taken. The committee will discuss it once again in the coming weeks.
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