Are you feeling groggy or grumpy because you have sprung forward in the Spring to Daylight Saving Time? Perhaps then today is the day to call on the House to suspend all necessary rules to take up and consider House Bill 150 exempting Texas from DST.
To some degree, you can thank two Texas presidents for the sleepless state you are in, having lost an hour in the wee morning of Sunday.
Congress in 1966 passed a uniform time law under which President Lyndon B. Johnson established DST to take effect on the last Sunday of April through the last Sunday of October. Apparently, there just wasn’t enough recreational sunlight left at the end of the workday, so President George W. Bush in 2005 extended DST from the second Sunday of March through the first Sunday of November.
Now, riding in from Northeast Texas to save us from this annual disruption to our circadian rhythms is state Representative Dan Flynn, R-Canton, with House Bill 150 to exempt Texas from DST. The legislation is set for a hearing Wednesday in the Government Transparency and Operations Committee.
If you want one person to blame for Daylight Savings Time, that would be New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson. He worked as a postal clerk during the day and wanted extra hours of daylight so he could collect insects in the evening. He first proposed the idea of DST in 1895. The world wisely did not immediately jump onto Hudson’s idea like a duck onto a June bug.
Congress briefly established DST at the end of World War I to conserve fuel, but it was so unpopular that it was voted out as quickly as the League of Nations. As a fuel conservation measure, DST was readopted during WWII. President Roosevelt called it “War Time.” With the Axis powers defeated, DST rode off into the sunset.
Standard Time marched on until Congress in 1966 decided the nation’s patchwork of local times needed consolidation. President Johnson then established our first permanent pattern of DST. The recreation industry loved it. It was hated by restaurants, theaters, drive-in movies, dairy farmers and the parents of small children who had to go to school in the dark during the dying days of Winter.
The reaction in Texas was swift. State Representative William Smith of Beaumont in 1967 tried to persuade the state House to adopt Texas Exceptional Time, hoping to exempt us from Daylight Savings Time before the official first spring-forward that year. Leading the charge in opposition to the bill and in favor of lost sleep was future Speaker Billy Wayne Clayton of Springlake in West Texas. Clayton persuaded the House to kill Smith’s bill on a 90-56 vote on March 28, 1967. The House later that year passed a resolution in Clayton’s honor.
“This gallant legislator showed his fervent and persuasive power by victoriously defending his stand against passage of the so-called Daylight Savings Time proposal so that All Texans…should have equal opportunity and joy of arising one hour Earlier every morning until late October; now, therefore be it
“Resolved, That our estimable colleague be designated and he is hereby so designated as ‘Keeper of the Clock’ and he is further charged with the responsibility of being bodily in the House Chamber at exactly 1:59 ante meridian on Sunday, April 30, 1967, A.D., and shall at the exact stroke of Two, turn the House of Representatives’ clock Forward One House; thus by the stroke of His Hand shall be given All Texans, including those of the renown District Number 78, One Hour Less Sleep.”
Now, forty-eight spring-forward-in-the-springs later, it is Representative Flynn’s chance to turn back the clock.
When Flynn pre-filed his bill last year, he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Anna M. Tinsley that people in his district were tired of adjusting their clocks and mothers complained of sending their children to school on dark winter mornings.
“It seems that every time we have to change the time, we get lots of complaints in our office,” Flynn said. “A lot of people are just upset about the hassle of turning the clock forward and backward. … It seems as though I have had more calls than ever this year.”
The time has come to let your voice be heard! Are you with the Will Smiths and Dan Flynns of the world or the Billy Claytons? Your comments will be duly noted.