Since 2016, Wyoming Rep. Dan Laursen has made it his mission to permanently shift Wyoming to daylight saving time.
Going into the 2020 session, the Powell Republican hopes the fifth attempt will prove to be the charm.
House Bill 44 proposes Wyoming making a permanent shift to Mountain Daylight Time, ending the Equality State’s compliance with a practice dating back to the initial passage of daylight saving time in 1966.
If passed, the bill — which counts several members of House and Senate leadership as sponsors — would essentially add an extra hour of daylight between the cold months of November and March, a change the bill’s sponsors believe will have a tangible economic and social impact for the people of Wyoming.
“The residents and businesses of the state of Wyoming have become more habituated to the eight months of daylight saving time per year than the four months of standard time per year,” the legislation argues. “The biannual change of time between mountain standard time and mountain daylight time is disruptive to commerce and to the daily schedules of the residents of the state of Wyoming.”
Even if state lawmakers choose to make the shift to Mountain Daylight Time, the change would not take effect immediately. Laursen’s bill closely resembles a similar piece of legislation he proposed during the 2019 legislative session, which passed the House of Representatives on a 35-21 vote.
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That bill — which failed on two consecutive 15-15 votes in the Senate — would have allowed the state to permanently shift to Mountain Daylight Time only if neighboring states like Montana, Idaho, Utah and Colorado decided to make the shift as well. Even then, the federal government would have had to ratify the change as well before the shift was made.
Though the concept may have been far-fetched in the past, there has been growing momentum in statehouses around the country to permanently make the move to daylight saving time. All three Pacific Coast states have seriously begun to discuss the implications of a time shift after both Oregon and Washington elected to make the shift to daylight savings a permanent one in their 2019 legislative sessions. (Congress has yet to accept those decisions, while California has yet to take up their version of the bill after voters rejected it by a wide majority in 2018.)
The idea is not too out of bounds, however. Nationwide, 26 states have already considered some form of legislation abandoning the annual change to standard time, including more than a dozen in 2019 alone.
Even if Wyoming decides to move ahead with the change, the gesture would largely be symbolic. Unless Congress changes federal law, states can only opt out of daylight savings time, and only if that state inhabits a single time zone. To date, only Hawaii and Arizona have chosen to take that step.
If there’s a time to try, however, it’s 2020. Later this year, the U.S. Congress could potentially be taking up a resolution sponsored by California Assemblyman Kansen Chu — the sponsor of the bill currently working its way through the gauntlet in Sacramento — arguing the changeover reduces crime, saves electricity costs (a point most research refutes) and a potential increase in spending due to the extended daylight hours.
The Legislature meets in Cheyenne beginning Feb. 10.