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The clock keeps running out on Illinois efforts to end time changes


The debate to end transition between Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time has been ongoing for years. As you prepare to set your clocks back one hour this weekend, you’re likely to hear complaints about the time shift.

Lawmakers have heard those complaints too. Twenty states, including Illinois, have legislation proposed that would make Daylight Saving Time permanent.

Since 2019, the Illinois House had five bills filed, three of which were during the 102nd General Assembly. Currently, Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Highwood) has introduced the latest proposal.

"It became more acute for me when I had children and my children's internal clocks didn't change with the clocks we'd manually change," he said.

That hangover effect is one of the main reasons many find the time change such a disruption. But those pushing to make Daylight Saving Time permanent see other reasons, including driver safety and economic benefits.

But not everyone is convinced. Sen. Craig Wilcox (R-McHenry), who voted against a 2019 bill, is skeptical. He also sees a problem for kids going to school, as there would be less daylight during that period in the winter months.

"I asked how many more children would spend time at a bus stop in the dark." he said.

There’s no clear-cut mandate from the public.

A national YouGov poll this year found 62 percent of those surveyed want to stop the changing of clocks entirely. But the polling is split when it comes to which solution is preferred.

Of the reasons given for keeping Daylight Saving Time, most indicated later sunsets improve people’s moods and allow for increased productivity in the evenings. Supporters of permanent standard time say it is most in line with circadian rhythms and sleep cycles.

Wilcox believes that some of the effects of the transition can be personally regulated without a law.

"Like a majority of the population, we tend to have a wake up time that is relatively structured. But our bed time is significantly varied," he said. "And if we do, routinely on our own short ourselves and hour or two or three of sleep depending on when we go to bed, why is daylight saving fall back or spring forward any different?"

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states have passed bills or resolutions to adopt permanent Daylight Saving Time. Many other are currently debating the issue and have pending legislation. Arizona, Hawaii, and the U.S. territories do not observe DST.

This year marks 50 years since then President Richard Nixon signed a Daylight Saving Time law. It was done during a national energy crisis – the theory that it would reduce demand as it would stay light longer in the day. It had widespread public support and was made permanent.

But that would soon change, amid safety concerns, and Standard Time was brought back a year later – at least for some months.

So even if Illinois agreed to adopt year round Daylight Saving Time, it’s not that simple. Congress would need to okay the change.

"I think Illinois could take the lead and speak with one voice about what's best for us and join with other states that agree with our approach," Morgan said.

For now, the only thing to do is keep changing your clocks.

Cole is a graduate student reporter enrolled in the Public Affairs Reporting program at UIS.
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