Could Kansas abandon daylight saving time?


State News

January 24, 2019 - 10:17 AM

A bill before state lawmakers would exempt Kansas from daylight saving time. (Elena Elisseeva/Dreamstime/TNS)

TOPEKA, Kan. — Imagine no longer “falling back” or “springing ahead.” Imagine a world where you don’t have to figure out how to set your microwave or dashboard clock.

If you live in Kansas, imagine it’s a day that may be closer than you think.

A bill before state lawmakers would exempt Kansas from daylight saving time. Beginning after 2 a.m. on Nov. 3, 2019, there would be no more clock-turning twice a year. The state would remain on standard time.

Rep. Kristey Williams, an Augusta Republican, said she decided to introduce the bill after hearing from constituents.

“I think they don’t like switching back and forth. That’s the tough spot, going back and forth,” Williams said.

Before you decide it will never happen, consider this: the Sedgwick County Commission, which represents the state’s second most-populous county, has also officially adopted elimination of daylight saving time as a legislative priority.

David Dennis, a Sedgwick County commissioner, pointed out that despite its name, the amount of daylight remains constant.

“We really don’t save any daylight whatsoever,” Dennis said.

Advocates say it is more than a matter of personal convenience. They cite evidence that the twice-yearly time shift is costly and a possible health hazard. Studies in the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Cardiology report increased hospital admissions for heart attacks on the Monday after time shifts.

Chumra, a Washington economics and analytics firm, estimates that health issues, workplace accidents and “cyberloafing” immediately following time changes cost businesses $430 million a year.

But if opting out of daylight saving time is such a great idea, why have only two other states — Arizona and Hawaii — actually done so since Congress standardized the system in 1966? Opponents say there are compelling reasons.

While it is widely assumed that daylight saving time was created to help farmers to stay in their fields, it was actually a World War I-era measure devised to save electricity. And the energy savings are significant. The U.S. Department of Energy says that the four-week expansion of daylight saving time in 2007 saved 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours — the amount needed to power 100,000 households for an entire year.

Perhaps most compelling is the potential for the confusion it could bring to a metropolitan area of more than 2 million spread across two states — one that is daylight saving-observant and one that is not.

Like, say, Kansas City.

“I’ve got meetings in Missouri all the time and for me to try to keep that one figured out, that would really be something,” said Sen. John Skubal, an Overland Park Republican.