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Year-round Daylight Savings Time has its advantages

If passed, school official may reconsider start time

If Daylight Savings Time was adopted year-round, a bill that passed the state Senate and received discussion across the state, sunset would occur an hour later from November to March than it has under current time guidelines.
If Daylight Savings Time was adopted year-round, a bill that passed the state Senate and received discussion across the state, sunset would occur an hour later from November to March than it has under current time guidelines.

Illinois lawmakers have laid the groundwork to move clocks one hour forward in March 2020 for Daylight Savings Time, then leave them be.

No more moving them an hour back. No more time changes.

The bill, however, won't take effect without further action from the federal government, according to its sponsor.

“The only way it would change for Illinois by itself is what Arizona has done, and Congress has given them an exemption from federal law,” said State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, in a Capitol News Illinois report. “This doesn’t seek that. This just says one of two things should happen: There should be a national change or, if Congress were to begin to give states exemptions, that obviously would be a different conversation here on this floor. This doesn’t say that we should ignore federal law.”

By staying on Daylight Savings Time, Illinois would gain an hour of daylight later in the day and lose one in the morning. For example, Wednesday's sunrise was 6:41 a.m. and sunset was 4:38 p.m. on Daylight Standard Time. If Illinois had been in savings time, sunrise would be at 7:41 a.m. and sunset at 5:38 p.m.

Daylight Savings Time started in 1908 in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada as a way to get more daylight after a traditional workday and save energy. The idea spread to the U.S. during World War I, disappearing after the war and reappearing during World War II.

The time change was put into effect during a different time for the world; Streator farmer David Isermann said it was an effort to conserve products that aren't in use anymore.

“They started that back around World War I where they were trying to save fuel,” said Streator farmer David Isermann. “At that time, farmers all had livestock and they had to get up early in the morning to milk their cows. They wanted to save fuel so people weren’t lighting kerosene lamps to try and do their chores. Nobody’s doing that anymore.”

Isermann said he’s out in the fields before the sun comes up and after it goes down every day this time of year anyway, so the change won’t affect agriculture much at all.

While Daylight Savings Time started mostly to aid farmers during war time, it went on to affect other aspects of life, such as policing. 

“I really think this is going to be a welcome thing for us in Peru from a policing standpoint,” said Peru Police Chief Doug Bernabei. “As the retail hub of North Central Illinois, our busiest time of year has people driving in the dark.”

Bernabei said it gets so dark by 5 p.m. every night the heaviest traffic flow is happening at the darkest time. 

“Having an extra hour of light will be particularly beneficial,” Bernabei said. “It’s a welcome thing for us. People stopping at shopping centers and restaurants are something we’re really happy about but that extra hour of daylight is going to be greatly appreciated by our police on the street.”

The switch also would put Illinois on Eastern time from November to early March, meaning national primetime television programming will be at 9 p.m., instead of 8. This also affects NFL kickoff times, moving from noon to 1 p.m., 3 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 8 p.m. for November and December games.

Time change may benefit health

Ottawa Psychiatrist Joseph Chuprevich, who is affiliated with OSF Health Care, said doing away with the time skip and push back would help people keep their circadian rhythm; after a skip or a push back it can take three weeks or more to adjust.

“I see the benefits a lot, psychologically,” Chuprevich said. “I think we all get affected by the seasonal affective times. Five percent of the population gets a major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern but I think we’re all affected.”

Chuprevich said the change will allow people more time to be active and social. He said after five years they’ll have concrete numbers on the affects of Daylight Savings Time.

If it turns out it’s affecting people negatively, lawmakers can change it back. 

As for a treatment to aid those coping with seasonal depression, Chuprevich said there’s Bright Light Therapy, which requires a fluorescent light.

“It’s like a spotlight, you’ll feel more animated,” Chuprevich said. “There aren’t any side effects as long as it’s a white, fluorescent light. During the winter time, we put out more melatonin and it makes us tired, lethargic and it also makes us crave carbohydrates.”

Time change may affect morning school commute

Unit 2 Superintendent Spencer Byrd, which oversees Serena, Harding and Sheridan schools, sees the proposed change to Daylight Savings Time as a safety issue. 

A later sunrise means students could be standing at a bus stop in the dark, waiting for their ride to school.

“I do think for parents that have elementary age students, the thought of having your kids stand out on a corner in pitch black is a safety concern,” Byrd said. 

He said this is a change the school board would be able to combat themselves by moving back the school start time.

“There is some evidence that a later start time is better for smaller children’s brain development,” Byrd said. “This might prompt that change. It would be the natural reaction.”

Unit 2 schools start at 8:10 a.m. every day and buses start their pickup before that; had the change went into effect Wednesday, students would have been waiting in pitch black. 

“We’ve considered a later start already,” Byrd said. “The board of education would have to come to that conclusion.”

Senator wants an amendment

The bill passed with 44 votes in favor, two against and two voting present. Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, and Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, voted in favor of the bill, but Rezin would like to see an amendment.

"I voted in favor of this legislation in hopes that an amendment will be filed to keep us on Standard Time instead of Daylight Saving time," Rezin said in a statement. "Medical studies show that eliminating an hour of sunlight in the morning is not good for our biological clocks, putting people at great risk for heart attack, stroke and other harmful effects of sleep deprivation."

State Rep. Lance Yednock, D-Ottawa, said he will support the bill in the House.

Capitol News Illinois contributed to this report

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