Daylight Saving: Just a matter of time

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  • LOREN BENOIT/Press The days are getting lighter and lighter toward the end of the afternoons, with sunshine-ish skies brightening the clock tower on Sherman Ave. at 3:50 p.m. Dueling legislation in Boise could change when — or if — North Idaho will spring ahead and fall back an hour each year.

  • 1

    Zito

  • 2

    Vick

  • LOREN BENOIT/Press The days are getting lighter and lighter toward the end of the afternoons, with sunshine-ish skies brightening the clock tower on Sherman Ave. at 3:50 p.m. Dueling legislation in Boise could change when — or if — North Idaho will spring ahead and fall back an hour each year.

  • 1

    Zito

  • 2

    Vick

There are those who go to great lengths to fight time. Cosmetic surgeries. Rec league football. Shopping sprees to Forever 21.

Idaho began its yearly fight with time Thursday — or, more specifically, with one particular hour of time.

Rep. Christy Zito once again introduced legislation that would exempt the people of Idaho from the shackles of Daylight Saving Time. The bill, HB 358, cleared the State Affairs Committee Thursday mid-morning (or late morning, depending on which Idaho time zone you happen to live in).

The three-paragraph bill sounds simple but is steeped in astrophysical chaos. Idaho — particularly North Idaho — has a complicated history with time, dating back to 1936, when Shoshone County workers nearly revolted over which time zone they should plant their flag. This kind of Timexifest-Destiny was actually commonplace until 1966, when the feds hit the snooze button on localities choosing their own time. The Uniform Time Act established time zones and gave states wiggle room with Daylight Saving Time.

Daylight Saving Time, for those who don’t ask questions and just change their clocks, is when timekeepers advance the clock forward to add an hour of evening daylight in the warmer months. The temporary period ends as winter approaches. The ritual begins March 8 this year and ends Nov. 1. Per federal law, states can exempt themselves from Daylight Saving Time, though they need permission to join it.

Idaho’s more recent entanglements with time have led its residents into dueling legislation in Boise. Zito has run this legislation in the past to strong opposition and sound defeats. Zito’s attempt last year failed 55 - 15.

That said, Zito claims her bill would positively impact the long-term health of its citizens. More specifically, she said it would eliminate the long-term harm she contends Daylight Saving causes.

“The research shows an increase in heart attacks and strokes when we change time like this,” she said. “It shows an increase in kids not going to school, an increase in vehicular accidents, an increase in pedestrian accidents, a drop in worker production: all for something that doesn’t mean anything to the people of Idaho.”

While the District 23 legislator representing the Twin Falls area said she didn’t understand the opposition, she said she fully understood her constituents’ motivations.

“I think people are tired of useless change,” Zito said. “So many people I represent want me to do this. I just have to represent them.”

North Idaho, however, plays by a different set of rules. The northern swath of the state falls under the Pacific Time Zone, while its southern counterpart runs on Mountain Time Zone’s time. Our economy complicates the clocks, as Coeur d’Alene’s and Sandpoint’s economy is more closely tied to Spokane, Wash. Washington passed a bill earlier this year that would move to full Pacific Daylight Time with Congressional approval, so long as Oregon did the same. Oregon passed a similar law, but the move likely won’t happen unless its southern neighbors vote to approve a similar bill. Lawmakers in Sacramento said they will make the change if two-thirds of its citizens vote to approve.

So really, this is all California’s fault.

Sen. Steve Vick, representing District 2 from Dalton Gardens, said Thursday he will likely introduce a bill next week that will sync North Idaho’s Daylight Saving Time conundrum with Washington. He has presented previous legislation supporting North Idaho’s time adjustment, though that move was non-binding.

“It was a letter of encouragement, really,” Vick said. “Since Washington passed their bill, I thought we should have a law, rather than just a resolution.”

Vick added the ideal scenario for the state is if North Idaho kept its eye on its own watch.

“In my ideal world,” he said, “southern Idaho moves off Daylight Saving year-round. They would sync up with Oregon, and we would sync up with Washington, and we’d all be on the same time.”

Vick added that both Zito’s bill and his own share one common denominator he thinks is refreshing.

“It’s not partisan,” he said. “This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s just time.”

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