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Why Utah ski resorts oppose a bill to end daylight saving time

A bill that would keep Utah on Mountain Daylight Time stalled in committee.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pre-season skiers head for Alta's slopes and fill the parking lot of Goldminer's Daughter, Nov. 10, 2021.

A daylight saving time bill that would make Mountain Daylight Time constant in Utah stalled on Friday during a Senate Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee meeting.

The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, would eliminate turning back the clock by an hour in the fall but would maintain setting the time forward in the spring, resulting in long dark mornings.

“What you see developing across the country is everyone’s growing tired of the spring forward, fall back mentality or ... tradition,” McCay said, adding that the biannual time change is negative for an individual’s health and sleeping patterns.

Representing Utah’s ski industry, Mike Maughan, general manager for Alta Ski Area, spoke in opposition of the bill. He urged the committee to consider the impact the bill would have on industries that depend on daylight in the winter.

“We do not think it’s in the best interest of our winter recreation industry to make that change,” he said. Maughan said ski resort workers can’t conduct avalanche control in the dark and would push forward the resort’s 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. skiing schedule by an hour.

“We are concerned about the impacts that moving into permanent daylight saving time would have on this industry in particular,” he said. “If this changed, now it pushes the ability for us to do (avalanche) control work back an hour which in effect pushes the ski day back an hour which means our employees come later and they work longer.”

Maughan also expressed concern that it would magnify existing traffic congestion issues for skiers traveling up and down Cottonwood Canyon. Maughan added that he worried about school children waiting for buses in their neighborhoods in the dark.

Wade Garrett, vice president of strategic relationships and public policy at the Utah Farm Bureau, also spoke out against the bill.

“Utah Farm Bureau has long-held policy opposing changing the daylight saving time,” he said.

After public comment, State Sen. Ronald M. Winterton, who chairs the committee, said from all the feedback he’s received, there was not enough support to move the bill forward to the Senate and held the bill in the committee.

In 2020, then-Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill to change Daylight Saving Time in Utah. The bill, however, would require Congressional approval and for at least four Western states to adopt changing Daylight Saving Time.