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Bill would eliminate daylight savings in Pennsylvania

Daylight Saving Time.

Do we need it?

A bill working its way through the state House of Representatives answers that question with an emphatic “no.”

Daylight Saving Time (DST) — the one hour spring forward in spring, fall back in fall — was set at the federal level but the states were given an opportunity to opt out.

Russ Diamond, a Lebanon Co. Republican, wrote in a legislative memo that DST “launched during World War I as an attempt to save energy” but has “outlived its usefulness.”

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, DST is an energy saver.

“During Daylight Saving Time, the sun sets one hour later in the evenings, so the need to use electricity for household lighting and appliances is reduced,” the DOT suggests.

“People tend to spend more time outside in the evenings during Daylight Saving Time, which reduces the need to use electricity in the home. Also, because the sunrise is very early in the morning during the summer months, most people will awake after the sun has already risen, which means they turn on fewer lights in their homes.”

The DOT also highlights a decrease in traffic injuries as people during DST travel during daylight hours as well as a reduction in crime.

But Diamond argues that the energy savings “has historically been negligible at best.

“Due to the proliferation of air conditioning, energy usage during DST may actually increase. The phase-out of incandescent bulbs further minimizes energy differentials. …. There is no national crisis that changing clocks helps to alleviate.”

The bill itself “declares that the sole and uniform legal standard of time throughout this Commonwealth, including municipalities of this Commonwealth, shall be eastern standard time and that daylight saving time shall not be used as a standard of time.”

Procedurally, it’s an amendment to an 1887 Act “for the establishment of a uniform standard of time throughout the Commonwealth….”

Diamond’s memo highlights negative side effects from DST.

“Studies have shown that automobile accidents, workplace injuries, heart attacks, strokes, cluster headaches, depression, and suicides all increase in the weeks following clock changes,” he wrote. “These government-mandated interruptions of natural biological rhythms and sleep cycles can wreak havoc on job performance, academic results, and overall physical/mental health. Clock changes require farmers to make needless adjustments, as crops and animals live by the sun, not a timepiece.”

Diamond suggests that “because ‘we’ve always done it that way’ is not enough reason to continue the practice.”

He said legislation proposing to end DST has been introduced in excess of a dozen states.

The bill was approved by the State Government committee in a 15-9 vote on Nov. 8. The outcome was largely partisan — one Republican broke ranks to vote no while two Democrats crossed the aisle to support the measure.

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