Lawmakers pursue uphill bid to rid Michigan of daylight saving time

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News
The architects behind Daylight Saving Time amid World War I believed it would save energy at a time when the nation was trying to preserve it for the war, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis. It was again used in World War II and during the 1970s energy crisis as a supposed energy saver.

Lansing — Twice a year, Marv Rubingh's dairy farm in Ellsworth has what he likes to call a case of "mad cows."

But the bovine bluster in March and November isn't so much a result of disease as much as it is linked to a federally required time change that delays the northern Michigan cows from milking, Rubingh told lawmakers Thursday in the House Commerce and Tourism Committee. 

“You’ve heard of mad cows,” Rubingh said. “Mine are mad every fall when they have to wait another hour before they get relieved of their milk pressure.”

Rubingh's testimony came as some Michigan lawmakers Thursday pushed again for a bill to rid the state of its biannual time change. 

Rep. Michele Hoitenga's initial proposal would exempt the state from following daylight saving time so as to remain on Eastern standard time year round. But the Manton Republican said Thursday she plans to amend the legislation based on resident feedback so the state stays on daylight saving time year round.

“This was by far the most input I’ve received on a bill statewide,” she said. “People are ready for this.”

The bill’s appearance on the Legislature’s agenda is a nearly annual occurrence but has so far received little to no support. Hoitenga expressed hope that the initiative might gain traction this year, citing studies showing the time change hurts health and learning.

Michigan state Rep. Michele Hoitenga, R-Manton.

The change from standard to daylight saving time occurred Sunday at 2 a.m. across most of the United States, allowing daylight to last longer in the evening. The state will return to standard time on Nov. 3.

A 2005 wide-ranging federal energy law extended daylight savings time four weeks by moving daylight savings time from April into March and ending it one week later in the fall.

The time change is not observed in Hawaii and most of Arizona. The Florida Legislature recently passed similar legislation and is awaiting federal approval, Hoitenga said.

Hoitenga’s bill would require the state to seek an exemption from the U.S. Department of Transportation to allow Michigan to remain on one schedule year round.

“I do believe this is a federal issue,” Hoitenga said. “The more states who step up and do their own legislation, they’re going to pay attention to us.”

Some lawmakers expressed concerns about the potential impact of the change on residents who do business with other states that continue to comply with daylight saving time.

“They are very against this,” said Republican Rep. Pauline Wendzel of Bainbridge Township in southwest Michigan. “Being a border community and ag community, the farmers are angry, the schools are up in arms.”

Hoitenga said she is open to approaching other Midwestern states to form a compact like the one being developed among states on the East Coast so a time change in one state would not affect commerce with another.

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