Should Texas give up daylight saving time? This is a question one state lawmaker is asking at the Capitol this legislative session. State Senator Jose Menendez (Democrat, San Antonio) has proposed a bill that would do just that.
Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?
Daylight saving time begins at 2:00 AM on the second Sunday in March every year, and lasts until 2:00 AM on the First Sunday in November. It began in 1918 as a fuel conservation effort for World War I. The concept was that, if more of our waking hours coincided with daylight, people wouldn't have to burn as much fuel in the evenings.
If you're like me, then you probably haven't questioned daylight saving time too much. Most of us just go along with being robbed of an hour every spring and let out a sigh of relief each fall when we get that hour back. However, daylight saving time is actually enshrined in our laws.
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 created the standard time zones and daylight saving time that we all use today. In fact, daylight saving time has been legislated several times in the history of our country. The first time was the Standard Time Act of 1918, which created the designation of standard time and daylight saving time. Most recently congress enacted the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which extended daylight saving time for two extra weeks.
Can Texas opt out?
Now, that doesn't mean that Texas choosing to opt out is illegal. There are provisions within the federal law to afford for states' rights in choosing how to view time. According to the Uniform Time Act, states can become exempt from the federal law by passing a state law if the entire state lies within one time zone. Or, if the state is divided by time zone, the law must apply to the entire state on one side of the time zone divide.
You might not be aware of it, but Texas does incorporate two time zones. The far west corner of the state that borders New Mexico to the West and Mexico to the South is actually a part of the Mountain Time Zone. The rest of the Lone Star State is in the Central Time Zone. The wording of the law that Senator Menendez is proposing would affect both time zones within the state.
If it sounds weird to just eschew daylight saving time altogether, then consider Arizona and Hawaii. Neither of those two states abide by it. Maybe it's not so weird for Hawaii, given that they're an island all by themselves in the Pacific, they're not really beholden to the whims of the rest of us. For Arizona though, it does seem a little weird. According to USA Today, the people of Arizona love it and wouldn't have it any other way.
Should Texas opt out?
Having never lived without daylight saving time, it's easy to see the appeal. No confusing time change, no loss of sleep. No return to standard time that makes people show up to church an hour early. You can almost hear Chris Crocker yelling "Leave the clocks alone!"
On the other hand, it's also hard to imagine what repercussions might crop up. Also, do we really want to be an hour off from the rest of the Central Time Zone for more than half the year? Texans have never been ones to go along to get along, but this might be one situation where it behooves us to do. It's also important to note that a similar bill was proposed in 2015 that never made it out of committee. A lot changed in 2016 though, so who knows what the legislature will think of the proposal this time around.