Michigan lawmaker hates time change, says let’s end it – USA TODAY
The time of year has come, and soon clocks will ‘Spring’ forward! Daylight saving time starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.
DETROITÂ â He’s fine with Eastern Standard Time, and he’s good with daylight saving time.
What Michigan state Rep. Pete Lucido hates is switching back and forth twice a year.
“It’s not about the actual time. It’s about changing that hour. That’s what causes all the trouble,” said the Republican from Shelby Township, Mich., about 25 miles north of Detroit.
He greets what is coming at 2 a.m. Sunday â when most Americans must set their clocks ahead one hour â with a mix of dread and chagrin.
By “all the trouble,” he means everything from more traffic accidents; more on-the-job injuries; more seizures, heart attacks and strokes; as well as drowsy schoolkids, upset dairy cows and now, according to a study out in February fromÂ Boston University Medical Center, higher miscarriage rates among women undergoing in vitro fertilization.
“Anybody who wants to continue this is cuckoo,” Lucido said.
âº Spring forward:Here comes the sun; daylight-saving time starts Sunday
âº Or not:Why Arizona doesn’t observe daylight-saving time
The long list of Michigan politicians from both parties who’ve tried and failed to get what heâs after does not deter him.
The very thought of the time change had Lucido sounding like he’s short of sleep. Get him started on this,Â and you might want to take off your watch, pour some coffee.
“This has bothered me as long as I can remember!â he fairly shouted into the phoneÂ before reciting a litany of rationales and studies for ending the time changes that began, on and off, more than a century ago.
Lucido said he became persuaded of the needless expense and human cost of the time change while working for 30 years as a lawyer advising his familyâs insurance company about the rash of workers’ compensation cases that arose from workplace injuries after each time change.
“If youâre working with heavy equipment, or on an assembly line or even just doing an intense mental activity, youâre not on your game” after the time shift, he said.
The reason: Humans and most other mammals have very specific body clocks, and when they’re suddenly disrupted by an hour â in either direction, but especially in March’s sleep-depriving change â what breaks loose is a behavioral form of all H-E-double-hockey-sticks,Â sleep researchers say.
Lucido is trying his idea againÂ in this year’s Michigan legislative sessionÂ but with a new twist. Unlike previous lawmakersâ attempts, he won’t try to eliminate daylight-saving time. Instead, he would keep it all the time.
Imagine being on the same time as Nova Scotia in the winter.
Makes sense, said former state Rep. Jeff Irwin, a Democrat from Ann Arbor, Mich.,Â who in two previous legislative sessions sponsored a bill to end daylight-saving time.
“I must say, the recreation industry got to me and said, ‘Why not go to daylight saving all year? That would be good for golfing and outdoor cafes and all kinds of activities because you’d have more evening hours’ ” of light, Irwin said.
His bill went nowhere. Yet, this year at least 21Â state legislatures â California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, according to the blog Time Zone Report â have bills that would #locktheclock one way or another.
“I think we’ve reached the tipping point” for ending the time changes, said Scott Yates, 52, a Denver dot-com millionaire who is semi-retired and devoted to ending time changes. Yates operates the websiteÂ sco.tt/timeÂ that lists studies showing the fallacies and pitfalls of the fall-and-spring time changes.
Last week, Yates testified before the Nebraska Legislature about why the time change doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do â help farmers and save energy. He spoke right after a teenage boy told legislators that he has had 13 grand mal seizures in his life, nine of them soon after a time change.
Next week, Yates said he plans to speak about the futility of the time change before a committee of the Colorado General Assembly.
“A lot of people think we do it for the farmers,” Yates said, as he drove home through 300 miles of rural Nebraska. “Actually, the farmers all hate it. The dairy farmers really hate it. Their milk production is all goofed up for the week after every time change,” he said.
The time shifts, first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, first were put into practice in July 1908Â in Port Arthur, called now Thunder Bay, Ontario.
It began in earnest during World War I in Germany, supposedly to save energy during a wartime coal shortage, Yates said. And some energy studies do indeed show a savings, including a prominent one that the U.S. Department of Energy financed. But that one is called a “heuristic study,” meaning it was an educated guess based on data from large and small electric utilities, and it studied the effect of just the four extra weeks that Congress had added that year, 2007, to daylight-saving time.
Two economists published aÂ better study in 2011, looking at Indiana because it was a perfect test tube. Indiana for years allowed counties near out-of-state metro areas to use daylight-saving timeÂ while most of the interior ignored the time change.
But in 2006, Indiana required all of its counties deal with daylight-saving time, creating an ideal comparison of before and after. The authors, economists from Yale and the University of California at Santa Barbara, did not mince words.
“Our main finding is that, contrary to the policy’s intent, DST increases electricity demand. … We estimate a cost to Indiana households of $9 million per year in increased electricity bills,” the study from Matthew Kotchen and Laura Grant concluded. “We also estimate the social costs of increased pollution emissions between $1.7 (million) to $5.5 million per year.
They used data from more than 223,000 homes, showing that although energy consumption for lighting dropped slightly when daylight-saving time was in effect, consumption for heating and cooling increased by 2% to 4%. Bottom line? No energy saving.
Despite that finding, many of those with strong feelings said they would like to stay on daylight-saving time all the time, ignoring the energy cost in favor of the practical benefits. Well, except maybe for the 9 a.m. sunrise that Lucido would experience at home on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, if he were saving that daylight.
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Like Michigan’s lawmakers Lucido and Irwin, Yates said his several years of reviewing data led him to think that most states shouldÂ stay on daylight-saving time.
Michiganders, at the western edge of the nation’s Eastern time zone, are an exception. ResidentsÂ might prefer staying with Eastern Standard Time year-round, he said.
“If Michigan did that, you’d have the same daylight that Boston or New York have on savings time,” Yates said.
Heading to year-round daylight-savingÂ time might not go over well inÂ Merriweather, Mich., almost 450 miles northwest of Detroit and with considerably fewer residents â 1,500 or so. It is probably the most populated placeÂ farthest west in the Eastern time zone, and sunrise on December’s winter solstice would be at 9:40 a.m. EDT.
Either way, sticking with one time or the other would end the accident-prone spring-and-fall time changes. And that would mean, in Yates’ view, that we’d no longer “impose the equivalent of jet lag twice a year on the entire population.”
FollowÂ Bill Laitner on Twitter:Â @Bill_Laitner