Plan to stop Michigan clock shifts gets panel hearing

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing — After a year of crusading to stop Michigan’s biannual time changes, a state lawmaker finally got a House hearing.

Some lawmakers have been trying for years to get the state off of Daylight Saving Time – the annual ‘fall back’ and ‘spring forward’ time shifts in the fall and spring of every year – to no avail. But Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, told a House hearing on Tuesday that Michigan should have a uniform, year-round time.

Lucido argues medical studies have shown the biannual shifts disrupt sleep patterns and increase the number of car accidents, heart attacks, strokes and work-related injuries on the Monday after losing an hour of sleep. Productivity and work quality also degrades because of lost sleep, he said.

“If we do this, we’re only helping ourselves in this state,” Lucido told a House committee Tuesday. “New York is on a different time than we are; Chicago is on a different time. Everybody’s on different times all over the states. I’m asking that this state recognize either Daylight Saving Time or Eastern Standard Time, and the consensus is stay on Daylight Saving Time because we get more sunlight.”

Lucido’s bill would put Michigan on Eastern Standard Time year-round, but plans to amend it to keep the state on Daylight Saving Time all the time.

The committee did not vote on the legislation.

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.

But a 1970 study from the U.S. Department of Energy found that switching the clocks saved minuscule amounts of energy.

“If time is an agreement between people, that agreement shouldn’t be deadly to people,” said Scott Yates, a Daylight Saving Time activist.

But in Michigan, switching to a uniform Daylight Saving Time could be more politically challenging than sticking on Eastern Time year-round because it would violate the federal 1966 Uniform Time Act. The governor would have to ask the federal government to approve changing the state’s time zone, which is set federally with the rest of the states across the nation by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Staying on Eastern Time is easier because it doesn’t require the same federal approval. States are allowed to opt out of Daylight Saving Time without much trouble, as Hawaii and Arizona have done.

But the state’s golfing industry indicated it doesn’t want to lose evening twilight hours. The Michigan Golf Course Owners Association opposes Lucido’s current bill but backs his planned changes.

Lucido’s revised bill would put Michigan on Nova Scotia time, while the Upper Peninsula’s four counties, which are currently on Central Time, would be a time zone unto themselves.

“Are we trying to accommodate something that’s easy or are we trying to accommodate something that we all love, which is a lot more sunlight at night so we can go out and do what we do after we get out of work?” Lucido said.