OP-ED: Ask for a chance to vote to lock Texas clocks

Published 6:26 am Saturday, March 13, 2021

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Lyle Larson
Texas House of Representatives
R-San Antonio

As we prepare to “spring forward,” moving the hands of the clock as we do this time of year, let us once again ask ourselves why must we be forced to give up an hour of sleep?

Texans have been through a lot lately. From a global pandemic wreaking physical, emotional and financial havoc across our state to a record-setting winter storm that brought us to our knees. It’s time to give Texans a break and spare them from the inane ritual of changing their clocks.

This strange ritual that has become ingrained in our lives since 1918 started when the U.S. Congress decided to manipulate time by passing the Standard Time Act to save energy and create time zones. Back then, coal was our exclusive energy source and ensuring that Americans had more daylight working hours made sense.

Today, there seems to be no reason to continue this practice. In fact, in 2008 the U.S. Department of Energy determined that sticking with one time year-round could actually save about 0.5 percent of electricity each day nationwide.

The practice of changing our clocks has other significant drawbacks. The risk of heart attack increases 10 percent in the days following springing forward, most likely caused by sleep deprivation and the interruption of biological rhythms. Studies also indicate that we’re more likely to get sick, less productive and, frankly, just exhausted directly following the time change.

In the last 4 years, 15 states have elected to observe daylight saving time year-round, pending Congressional authorization. This year, legislators in 28 states have introduced 64 pieces of legislation to end the biannual clock change.

The nation is waiting for Texas to pick one — daylight saving time or standard time — and stick with it. If the voters elect standard time, the change will be automatic. If voters elect daylight saving time year-round, we will need Congress to amend federal law to allow states to remain on daylight saving time.

This is why we filed House Joint Resolution 78, which seeks to allow Texans to vote whether to stay on standard time year-round or daylight saving time year-round.

During the 2019 legislative session, my office filed this exact legislation. The bill passed the House 133-9. Frustratingly, once the bill reached the Senate, it was never referred to a committee. The proposal died in the Senate without even a word spoken about it on the Senate floor.

For the past century, Texas legislative efforts to do away with the biannual clock adjustment have been attempted many times. None of those efforts have come this close to passage. We believe that our approach of allowing Texas voters to pick between keeping daylight saving time or standard time year-round provides the compromise needed to get this done.

If you want a chance to vote to lock Texas clocks, we urge you to contact your state legislators, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott to implore them to move this legislation forward.

 Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, is a member of the Texas House of Representatives. He can be reached at lyle.larson@house.texas.gov or @RepLyleLarson.