Howard Brown repairs a clock at Brown’s Old Time Clock Shop in Plantation, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
LINCOLN — After years of trying, the Nebraska Legislature appears poised to pass a first step toward ending the twice-a-year tyranny of changing the clock.
State Sen. Tom Briese of Albion again proposed keeping Nebraska on daylight saving time, if Congress and a third neighboring state join Nebraska in passing such a law.
Legislative Bill 143 had its hearing Wednesday before the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.
“It seems everyone in the state hates changing their clocks twice a year,” Briese said. “This practice, the changing of our clocks, is actually hurting and killing people.”
Researchers have blamed the annual shifts between standard time and daylight saving time for increased numbers of car crashes, heart attacks, workplace injuries and medical dosage mistakes.
Add to that the general disdain toward time changes from parents with young kids and workers who are cranky about lost sleep, and you have a recipe for change, Briese said.
Beyond that, Briese and supporters argue that adding another hour of sunlight to the day through the winter months has potential economic benefits. Chief among them: People might shop more.
Briese cited a JP Morgan study that found people put nearly 2% more purchases on their credit cards in cities that had an additional hour of daylight during the winter.
Consumers spend about $80 billion a year in Nebraska, he said, so the state’s retailers, businesses and tax coffers could see the impacts of people spending an additional $530 million.
Joe Kohout of the Nebraska Golf Alliance said an extra hour of daylight in the evenings means more people would play golf at Nebraska’s 300-plus 9- and 18-hole courses.
One opponent, Nebraska Broadcasters Association President Jim Timm, testified that TV and radio stations whose audiences cross state borders, in places such as Chadron and Omaha, would have a hard time scheduling shows with a patchwork of state laws. Timm said the broadcasters association would prefer action at the federal level, for uniformity.
LB 143 continues to garner bipartisan support, including from Sen. Megan Hunt of Omaha, Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln, Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha and Sen. John Lowe of Kearney.
Hunt said the push to stop changing the clocks generates more calls of support than any other issue. The public wants the change, she said, and so does she.
“It’s a real bipartisan bill,” Hunt said.
In written testimony, the committee received 22 letters in support, nine opposed and one neutral.
What’s different this year is the momentum from 19 other states that have passed similar laws, Briese said.
LB 143 requires two things to happen before Nebraskans can stop changing clocks.
First, Congress must pass a bill giving states the flexibility to choose to keep daylight saving time year-round. Currently, federal law allows states to either change clocks or choose standard time.
Congress has proposed several bills in recent years to do so, Briese said, and the likelihood of passage goes up each time a new state like Nebraska weighs in.
The Senate passed a bill last year allowing the change in March 2023, but the House did not.
Second, LB 143 requires three neighboring states to pass a similar law. Wyoming and Colorado already have, so it’s down to Iowa, South Dakota, Missouri or Kansas.
All four introduced legislation last year to adopt the change, but like Nebraska, they have yet to pass it.
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