Will this be the last year we turn the clocks back?

Molly Bilinski
The Morning Call (TNS)

York County residents get an extra hour of sleep thanks to the annual fall back of the clocks — but not everyone is looking forward to the additional shut eye.

“There’s no one that I know in my circle of friends that are happy that we’re turning the clocks back,” state Sen. Lisa Boscola said. “They do the Snoopy happy dance when we move forward, when we have more daylight so we can spend our time in more sunshine, and I think that’s better for us all around.

“Moving back and forth doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Boscola, of Northampton County, in March 2021 introduced a bill that would end Pennsylvania’s participation in the twice-yearly chore of changing the clocks at the start and end of daylight saving time.

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With many others pushing for change, both at the state and federal level, will this weekend be the last time Pennsylvanians fall back?

Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday. While pushing the clocks back makes room for more sunshine in the winter mornings, it also means the evenings get darker sooner. These differences often inspire passionate debate over energy usage, crime and economic trends — all of which have been pointed to as reasons for or against continuing to change the clocks twice a year.

A March Monmouth University poll showed the majority of Americans, 61%, would choose to do away with the twice-a-year time change, while 35% said they want to keep the current practice.

In this Thursday, July 25, 2019 photo, workers at the Electric Time Company in Medfield, Mass., test a 20 foot high clock, built for the a new train station in Bangkok, Thailand, prior to packing and shipment. The clock features a "9" in Thai number script. Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. local time Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019, when clocks are set back one hour. Losing an hour of daylight sounds like a gloomy preview for the dark winter months, and at least one study found an increase in people seeking help for depression after turning the clocks back to standard time in November _ in Scandinavia. But far more research says that the springtime start of daylight saving time may be more harmful, linking it with more car accidents, heart attacks in vulnerable people and other health problems that may persist throughout the time change. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Changing clocks seasonally is disruptive to sleep health and should be eliminated, officials at The National Sleep Foundation argue. The nonprofit works to improve health and well-being through sleep education and advocacy.

“The human circadian system does not adjust to annual clock changes,” according to the organization’s website. “Sleep becomes disrupted, less efficient and shortened. [Daylight saving time] forces our biological clocks out of sync with the rising and setting of the sun (the sun clock). The link between our biological clock and the sun clock has been crucial to human health and well-being for millennia.”

More than 60% of the globe uses standard time, the organization notes. Advocates argue this shows the international community understands the negative effects of daylight saving time on residents’ health.

Boscola’s bill, SB 384, is one of three working its way through the state Legislature. Her proposal would prohibit the use of daylight saving time by adopting Atlantic Standard Time.

Atlantic Standard Time is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and is observed in some parts of northeastern Canada. While this time zone is not observed anywhere in the continental U.S., both Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands use it. Last year, lawmakers in Connecticut and New Hampshire both lobbied to change to the Atlantic Standard Time Zone.

Her bill is a “unique” approach to the issue, Boscola said, petitioning the federal government directly to change the state’s time zones. Two other bills, HB335 and HB846, argue for a permanent daylight saving time and eliminating it, respectively.

“Twice a year, Pennsylvanians are subject to adding unnecessary stress to our lives by changing our clocks between daylight saving time and standard time,” said state Rep. Ryan E. Mackenzie, sponsor of HB335. “The 1966 Uniform Time Act brought some order to the country’s clocks by creating a uniform standard of time and creating several time zones. The act allows a state to become exempt from DST but does not allow permanent DST unless certain conditions are met.”

Boscola’s bill would move the entire state a time zone ahead.

“So we’re ahead all year round, literally putting us into daylight saving time permanently,” Boscola said. “Because the state can’t do it, the federal law has to allow us to do it. … Let’s go into the Atlantic time zone. Because that will keep us in daylight, like most people want more permanently.”

So far, more than a dozen states have passed year-round daylight saving time legislation, including Ohio, Delaware and Florida. But for such a change to actually happen, Congress would need to act.

Most recently, the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent starting next year. For it to become law, it would have to be passed in the House, where it faces an uncertain future, and then signed by President Joe Biden.

“There’s a lot of senators and representatives that want this change,” Boscola said. “But we’re demanding the change because the people want it. Everybody I know [asks] ‘Why do we have to change the clocks again?’ It seems like it’s an antiquated system from 100 years ago that makes no sense anymore.”