Efforts to keep daylight saving time permanent on state and national scale

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Wyndmere Senator Jason Heitkamp has heard from constituents supporting his efforts to keep daylight saving year-round.

“I was getting a lot of moms with kids, and so they’re very excited about it because they get that extra hour at night when the kids come home and they can enjoy the kids,” Heitkamp said.

He sponsored a bill to have North Dakota spring forward — and stay there — joining 15 other states with similar legislation.

“It’s gaining traction across the United States, and that’s fun,” Heitkamp said.

His initial bill failed, after those who live on the state’s borders were concerned they’d be dealing with two time zones when going to work. That includes Darren Schimke, who represents about 415 firefighters across the state.

“It would affect, in my estimation, 8 to 10 percent of firefighters that live on the borders of the state in North Dakota,” Schimke, who’s President of the Professional Firefighters of North Dakota, said.

But with an amendment, the bill now would take effect only if surrounding states passed the same legislation, and so far, Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota are considering it. With that change, Schimke says he’s on board. But even if North Dakota passes the bill, Congress would have to give states the OK to make it possible, and there is some support for that on a national scale, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s Sunshine Protection Act.

However, Save Standard Time Founder Jay Pea says daylight saving time has detrimental health effects, and keeping standard time permanent is the way to go.

“That’s when we see the jump in heart attacks, stroke, traffic accidents, workplace accidents. But also leaving the clock on the wrong time leads to chronic sleep deprivation. It’s estimated we sleep 19 minutes less every night we’re on daylight saving time,” Pea said.

Pea says economic interests are driving the push for daylight saving year-round, since that extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day leads to more spending.

“The people promoting permanent DST are the chambers of commerce and golf industry, and the people promoting standard time are the national safety council, national PTA, every group that cares about your health and well being is asking for standard time,” Pea said.

Heitkamp says the Senate will consider the bill this week.

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