Sun sets on Wisconsin duo’s plan to end daylight saving time

February 17, 2017 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The sun has set on a bid to eliminate daylight saving time in Wisconsin.

Rep. Michael Schraa, of Oshkosh, said Friday that he and Rep. Samantha Kerkman, of Salem, have decided to scrap the measure amid a social media backlash and will now actually push to make daylight saving time a permanent fixture in the state.

“Relatives are calling me and texting me saying, ‘What the heck are you doing? Don’t take away my hour of sunlight,’” Schraa said.

Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March and ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November. People move their clocks ahead an hour to make the sun set later and create an extra hour of light at the end of the day. The state then falls back an hour to standard time in November, which makes the sun set an hour earlier.

Daylight saving time was originally enacted as a way to save energy by creating more daylight in the evening. Most of the country observes daylight saving time; Arizona and Hawaii are the only states that don’t.

Some studies have questioned how much energy the time change actually saves, though, and still other studies show the change disrupts people’s health and biological rhythms. Eight states are considering measures this year to make standard time permanent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Seven other states are considering bills this year to make daylight saving time permanent, including Illinois. Federal law allows a state to exempt itself from daylight saving time but doesn’t allow states to adopt daylight saving time permanently.

Schraa and Kerkman, both Republicans, introduced a bill last week that would have exempted Wisconsin from daylight saving time. The change would mean the sun would set an hour earlier in the summer.

The lawmakers said in a news release that doing away with daylight saving time would save people the hour of sleep they lose in the spring, the time change causes general confusion and health problems and forces children to go to school in the dark. Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, a La Crosse Democrat, immediately scoffed at the bill, saying it was a “JV” proposal and Republicans should focus on “varsity-level issues.”

Schraa said the news release went out prematurely and triggered a flood of comments on social media. Comments on Facebook were ran three-to-one against the measure, he said. Most people said they wanted extra light in the evenings, particularly golf course owners and landscapers, he said. As a result, he and Kerkman decided to go the other way and draft a bill to make daylight saving time permanent. That would mean the sun would set an hour later in the winter.

“It does get confusing,” Schraa said. “This would be a lot better if we just stayed on daylight saving time.”

Kerkman said she just wants to eliminate the time change.

“You can’t get feedback on something unless you put it out there for conversation,” she said.

Moving to daylight saving time year round would require a federal waiver. Schraa and Kerkman said they plan to approach Wisconsin’s congressional delegation to see if they can gain any traction for permission. Schraa said if it doesn’t look like a waiver will happen they probably won’t introduce anything.


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