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Utahns have a love-hate relationship with daylight saving

Published July 11, 2014 7:17 am

Debate • State agency holds public forum where grievances, defenses of adjusting the clocks in the spring and fall are aired.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The way Rick Gregory sees it, he burns more than half an hour just having to adjust the 12 clocks throughout his house twice a year for daylight saving time. It feels to him more like a waste than a time savings.

Gregory wants Utah to switch to Mountain Standard Time year-round without changing the clocks in the spring and fall for what he mocks as "daylight stupid time." He, along with about 50 other Wasatch Front residents, participated in a public forum Thursday staged by the Governor's Office of Economic Development (GOED) to discuss potential changes to Utah's time standards.

Patrons gathered in the Clark Planetarium's dome to experience a 360-degree visualization of how the time of sunrise differs between daylight saving time and a set Mountain Standard Time. Arizona is the only state in the continental U.S. that does not observe daylight saving time and a majority of the residents at the forum advocated for a similar plan for Utah.

Clark Larsen, who lived in Arizona before moving to Holladay, prefers the set time because he doesn't experience the same "jet lag" as he does with daylight saving time.

"It's not a savings, it's a cost," Larsen said of the time changes.

GOED was assigned to sample public opinion on daylight saving in accordance with HB197, legislation authorizing a study of the issue. State Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, sponsored the bill, the fifth attempt in as many years aimed at tweaking Utah's time.

Menlove said residents have come to her with petitions and concerns about safety and health issues caused by daylight saving, and she wanted to address the issue before she retires in January.

"Those are my constituents who want to be heard and they're concerned about this issue," Menlove said in an online Trib Talk program after the forum. "They feel like the [time] switch is detrimental to them." She cited complaints from people struggling with adjusting mentally and physically to the time change.

Michael Sullivan, spokesman with the GOED, said about 20,000 people have voted in an online poll and more than 10,000 have commented about the potential changes. Residents are given three options in the poll: stay with daylight saving time, switch to a set Mountain Standard Time or create a new version of daylight saving that could potentially change clocks in the summer or winter.

The poll trends according to age, he said. Senior citizens want a set time with no time changes. Parents with young children also want a standardized time because they worry about their kids walking to school in the dark. These two populations amount for the almost 70 percent of voters who want to get rid of daylight saving.

However, residents working a day job in most Utah industries, besides technology, voted in the poll to retain daylight saving time. Sullivan said this trend is because of the opportunity for recreation after work, while it's still light outside.

But Dick Andrew has another concern. The executive vice president of marketing for Lagoon amusement park in Farmington says the switch to Mountain Standard Time would harm Utah tourism.

"Doing away with daylight saving time would be a major blow to this entire industry," Andrew said. "We cherish that extra hour of daylight in the summer. It is very important to us."

Daylight saving is intended to shift available daylight hours in a day to a position when more residents can use them.

And Andrew says it works for Lagoon to save money and allow families to spend more time together.

With such a divisive issue, state Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, who also attended the planetarium forum, said the issue could ultimately end up on a ballot initiative for voters to decide — a possibility Gregory, who has previously worked as a poll manager, hopes to see come about.

"It'd be interesting to see what the turnout was," Gregory said, "if people would come out and vote or not."