BISMARCK – North Dakota’s Senate has passed a bill to allow the state to observe daylight saving time year-round if the U.S. Congress allows the change.
The bill would also require the neighboring states of Minnesota, Montana and South Dakota to take the same step.
Sen. Jason Heitkamp, R-Wahpeton, told the chamber that North Dakotans dislike changing their clocks. “Once again, I am here to announce that people do not like springing ahead and falling back on a yearly basis,” he said. “The citizens of North Dakota want to spring ahead and stay there.”
Heitkamp said he heard from multiple constituents before the vote that they were in favor of this legislation.
“Minnesota has a bill and a resolution that is being worked on right now to enact daylight saving time, South Dakota tabled their bill on the last day of the legislative session ... and is looking to enact daylight saving time in the next session,” he said. “Montana is currently working on a bill right now and is looking to pass.”
Although the bill passed by 39-8, opposition to the bill referenced the sun rising too late and other issues.
Jay Pea, founder of Save Standard Time, testified to the Senate Political Subdivisions Committee against the bill. “For nearly half the year, from early October to mid-March, this bill would force hundreds of thousands to start school or work in the dark,” he said.
Pea said permanent daylight saving time can never make the winter like the summer, and believes permanent standard time would be better.
“(It) keeps most sunrises before 8 o’clock, saves morning daylight, which doctors tell us is most necessary for mood, health, safety and productivity,” he said.
The bill will now have to be sent back to the House as the Senate’s proposed amendments, requiring neighboring states to adopt the change, needs to be approved.
On March 10, the House killed Senate Bill 2201, sponsored by Heitkamp, which was identical to the amended HB 1371, as they did not want legislation hinging on other states.
During the Senate’s committee hearing on HB 1371, Sen. Diane Larson, R-Bismarck, brought up this concern. However, the bill likely will go to a conference committee, a committee of both House and Senate members, which could give it a greater chance of being passed.