RARELY do congressional Republicans and Democrats find something they can agree on. But daylight-saving time evidently transcends partisan politics. Congress may soon emerge from the darkness and put the country on daylight-saving time for an additional two months each year - from early March through late November.
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, is responsible for adding this provision to the new massive energy bill. The House has enthusiastically passed it, and the Senate is expected to follow suit.
If it becomes law, daylight-saving time would begin in late winter, on the first Sunday in March, instead of April, and continue through the last Sunday in November, instead of October.
There are several benefits - foremost among them is energy savings. The government says that such an extension could save more than 10,000 barrels of oil a day. That's about 1 percent of the total amount of energy consumed in this country, according to the U.S. Transportation Department.
Conserving energy is just one plus to extending daylight-saving time.
U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and co-sponsor of the bill, says the change could result in less crime, fewer traffic fatalities, increased economic activity, and more recreation time. And there's yet another benefit: People with seasonal affective disorder might do a little better in the extra daylight. SAD sufferers face some physical changes when the seasons change, and sometimes battle depression.
Most people feel better psychologically on a sunny day than a rainy one, and for many it's the same with daylight and darkness. Some early-to-rise working folks in our area already know that in mid-winter, they don't see their houses in daylight until the weekend.
Some parts of the country have resisted daylight-saving time and presumably will continue to do so. Arizona bucks the trend in order to minimize the hours of exposure to the intense summer heat in the desert. But on Thursday, Indiana lawmakers agreed to join most of the rest of the nation by beginning daylight-saving time next year.
States will still have the option to stick with standard time if the new measure becomes law. The Uniform Time Act of 1966 does not require every state to observe daylight-saving time.
The change, if it happens, will force a bit of revision to the old catch-phrase we all use to remember which way to turn the clock hands. "Spring forward, fall back," will technically become "winter forward, fall back."
No, it doesn't have the same catchy double meaning, but America will adjust.
And there is one other issue. With nearly nine months of daylight-saving time, will we still want to call the remaining months "standard time"?
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