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Debate focuses on changes to the way Utahns divide up each day

Posted at 5:09 PM, Oct 15, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- There has been great debate on the issue of daylight saving time and whether or not the long-standing practice should continue, and Utah has passed legislation to study the impact of the practice and determine how citizens fell about proposed changes to the status quo.

Most people’s body clocks accommodate the change within a day or two, but it remains a polarizing issue.

Wednesday’s debate at the Utah State Capitol is looking at two options for the state. One option is to eliminate the time change all together, as Arizona and Hawaii have done. The other option is to keep daylight saving time in effect all year long.

Brian Anderson is in favor of keeping daylight saving time, claiming the later sunset provides more time for family activities.

“I have time to be with my family to golf, to bicycle, to hike, to fish, go to a park--whatever we may choose to do,” he said.

Previous legislation allowed the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to conduct an online poll to get the public’s opinion, and about 27,000 people responded. The result of the poll was mixed, but most were in favor of dropping the time change altogether.

Marketing Director Michael O’Malley spoke about the results of their office's survey.

“Of those 27,000 people, about 65 percent were interested in going with Mountain Standard Time, which is fall back and stay back the entire year,” he said.

Some of those in the tourism and recreation industries, including Utah’s ski and golf associations, argue that longer days mean more hours of daylight for patrons to enjoy the outdoor activities vital to the state’s economy. State Senator Aaron Osmond said there is no dispute on that.

“There is no doubt about the fact that businesses believe that more daylight in the evening has a significant economic impact,” he said. “There is lots of data, anecdotal and qualitative, that we have that we can see that that’s the case.”

Estimates put that extra spending at about $25,000 annually. A final decision is still awhile away. Whatever the studies show, Senator Osmond said when all the information has been gathered, a definitive recommendation will be reached and will be presented in the upcoming general session.

“We’re going to get more feedback from business interests, as well as individual residents and citizens who’ve commented in the past, and from there we’ll recommend one of the two outcomes, but one of the two will be proposed,” Osmond said. “Either we eliminate daylight saving time altogether, or we stay on daylight saving time will be part of the proposal.”

There are two other sectors weighing in. Teachers and parents believe daylight saving time results in sleepy students. Officials with the Department of Transportation are concerned with how a later sunrise might lead to more drivers commuting in the dark, which could result in an increase in accidents.

Then there's the energy issue. Studies have been mixed on whether daylight saving time really saves energy use or simply transfers it to another part of the day.

For more information about Utah’s study regarding the impacts of daylight saving time and the responses collected by their survey, click here.