Clock DST


Those dreams of never again having to wake up an hour early because of Daylight Saving Time will just have to stay dreams, for now.

On Wednesday, Democrats on the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, who apparently don't mind losing that hour of sleep in 10 days, shot down a bill that would put Colorado on the path to staying on DST year round.

Senate Bill 105, sponsored by Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, would have taken Colorado off the semi-annual clock switch to stick to Daylight Saving Time, pending approval of Congress. It died on a 3-2 party-line vote.

The bill was put off for 10 days after its originally scheduled hearing date in hopes of a bipartisan solution, including one that would put the decision into the hands of voters. But that didn't happen for Wednesday's hearing.

The bill's biggest opponent, as in years past, has been the ski industry, which has argued that leaving the state on Daylight Saving Time after March 1 would hamper ski operations, moving workers to do morning duties in the dark. The bill also drew objections from the hotel and lodging association, and broadcasters who said the move would shift programming an hour later. SB105 did have the support of a farmers' alliance. 

"I'm a member of a long club who have attempted to do anything about locking the clock," Scott told the state affairs committee. Scott's bill is the latest in an effort to end the clock change that dates back to at least 1988.

Time hasn't changed, but the big thing that has changed is that Congress "woke up" and noticed states were changing their laws, Scott said. At some point, Washington, D.C. will do something, and that could happen after the General Assembly adjourns. That's something that could happen with any bill in Congress, not just the ones specifically focused on DST. 

Scott said the ski industry draws most of its income from skiers, obviously, but resorts are also becoming a popular destination for mountain bikers "who kill themselves going downhill," Scott said, and the ski industry wants to have both and not make a decision.

That was confirmed by Chris Linsmayer, testifying on behalf of Colorado Ski Country. DST would be bad for business operations in the winter, and year-round standard time would be bad for summer business.

The time has come for them to make a decision, Scott said. "If they don't do it, and Congress does it for them, they'll have to like mountain bikers more than they like skiers, and that will be difficult for them."

Scott offered several amendments, including sending the issue to the voters, and another, a compromise with the ski industry, that would put the state on Mountain Standard Time year-round. That would be subject to the actions of a future legislature if Congress approves DST year-round. Only the voter amendment made it onto the bill. 

Kathleen Flynn, representing an Arvada environmental group that opposed SB 105, said year-round DST would drive up energy use, which she said would be bad for the environment. She also explained that it would make life hard for farmers and ranchers who work more than one job, and they'd have to feed their livestock in the dark.

However, Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, a farmer and rancher, indicated Flynn didn't know what she was talking about. "Agriculture feeds in the dark now before you do anything else, before putting the kids on the bus in the dark." 

Scott Yates of Lock the Clock, which advocates for not changing the clock twice a year, has been testifying around the nation, including in Wyoming on Monday. The committee that heard that bill making DST permanent approved it on an 8-1 vote, he said. That included a "yes" vote from the representative from the Jackson Hole ski area. Maine and Utah, both states with ski resorts, also have approved measures to stop changing clocks and without resistance from their ski industries. 

"It makes me wonder why the clocks in Colorado interact differently from any other state," Yates said. The government manages the clocks, he said, and pointed out there's lots of evidence that changing the clocks causes 28 additional deaths because of traffic accidents, as well as heart attacks and other health issues tied to the time change. 

The demise of Scott's bill means the last efforts in the 2020 General Assembly could come in the form of a resolution to Congress . Sen. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, says that action is being discussed by Senate Democrats including Jeff Bridges of  Greenwood Village, and Senate President Leroy Garcia of Pueblo.

Several states have already decided to go on DST permanently, including Washington, Oregon, Utah and Florida, although those measures also require Congressional approval. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is the sponsor of the Sunshine Protection Act (S. 670), which would put the entire nation on DST year-round. It's gained bipartisan support from Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Patty Murray, D-Washington.

An identical House bill, HR 1556, sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Florida, is also awaiting action and has bipartisan support. However, both bills are stalled and have been awaiting committee action for nearly a year.

None of Colorado's congressional delegation has signed onto either measure.

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