CLEVELAND – Sunday’s time change could mark one of the last times Ohioans change clocks forward or backward.
Senate Bill 119 would make Daylight Saving Time permanent in the state.
Under the proposal, Ohioans would no longer set clocks back to Standard Time in the fall, so it would stay light later at night through the winter.
Senator Kristina Roegner, a Republican from Hudson, said she introduced the bill after hearing support from constituents.
“We should've eliminated this many years ago because of the injuries, the accidents, the illnesses it causes.
It's even shown to increase heart attacks in people, so time change acrobatics is no good for anybody,” Roegner said.
Under permanent DST, sunrise in Cleveland would occur as late as 8:53 a.m. in early January.
The earliest annual sunset would not happen until 5:56 p.m. in December, as opposed to 4:56 p.m. under Standard Time.
Opponents of the proposal argue it would involve students going to school and people arriving to work in darkness for months.
They also say it could have a negative effect on interstate business and travel, particularly if surrounding states remain on Standard Time from November through March.
Supporters say eliminating time changes will reduce the negative consequences of changing sleep patterns.
Potential benefits of permanent DST include reductions in certain types of crime due to the later ambient light and increases in outdoor activity.
“When people come home from work or come home from school, there will still be time to work in the yard, do a sport, get some exercise,” Roegner said.
Miami University Assistant Professor of Economics Austin Smith studied the impact of time changes on fatal crash statistics nationwide in his 2016 report, “Spring Forward at Your Own Risk: Daylight Saving Time and Fatal Vehicle Crashes.”
Last month, he testified before a Senate committee reviewing the bill.
“What we found was an increase in accidents right after the transition in the spring,” Smith said. “Other studies have shown that that leads to sleep disruption and sleep loss, and it takes people a little while to adjust, so I found an increase in fatal crashes of about five to six percent that lasted for about a week.”
He said there are benefits to choosing a single time regime instead of switching back and forth, and there are tradeoffs in the choice between Standard Time and permanent DST.
“You're making evenings lighter, but at the expense of darker mornings,” he said.
Under permanent Standard Time, the sunrise would occur at about 4:53 a.m. in Cleveland on June 21, with sunset at 8:04 p.m.
Roegner said she is amenable to either.
“I think at the end of the day we should just pick one and stick with it, whether it's Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time, just stop changing the time,” Roegner said.
Legislatures in several states, including Florida, have already voted to make DST permanent, but the laws have not taken effect because federal approval is required.
In March, President Trump tweeted his support for permanent DST, and Congress is considering legislation that would make the change.
Roegner said she plans to introduce legislation urging Congress to act, and she also plans to introduce an amendment to SB 119 that would delay its effective date by several years, giving surrounding states more time to consider making a similar change.