When the Illinois General Assembly begins its legislative session Jan. 28, the House will have a bill to consider that has drawn the ire of Monroe Countians.
That legislation is Senate Bill 533, which would make daylight saving time the year-round time in Illinois.
That does not sit well with many in this area, as a large portion of people live in Illinois and work in Missouri and the change would mean Illinois would be an hour ahead of its neighbor for over four months each year.
“I have worked in the state of Missouri for all of my adult life (approximately 36 years), while living in the state of Illinois my entire life,” Sue Prader said. “Does (Gov. JB Pritzker) not realize the majority of people who live in Illinois near St. Louis do the same? What havoc that will bring to peoples’ schedules!”
Prader also questioned why elected officials would spend their time and energy on a proposal like this when there are other matters they could attend to.
That sentiment was shared by almost everyone who contacted the Republic-Times to voice their opinion on this matter. No one supported the time change.
“With a state that is experiencing billions of dollars in debt, an underfunded pension system and residents as well as manufacturing jobs leaving the state, it’s nice to see that our General Assembly is tackling the ‘tough issues’ head first,” Waterloo resident Gary Most said sarcastically.
Another Waterloo resident, Mike Duncan, said he would prefer eliminating daylight saving time if there would be any change.
“I am strongly opposed to year-round daylight saving time,” he said. “It’s bad enough that the government tricks us into getting up early for eight months of the year… This is ridiculous, and Illinois’ lawmakers should be ashamed that this is even being considered.”
The characterization of “ridiculous” was shared by Roger Osterhage, who pointed out the federal government tried the same thing in 1974 in an effort to save energy during an oil embargo.
That experiment was abandoned in 1975.
“Needless to say, it did not work,” Osterhage said. “We were going to work in the dark in January and that’s when we had an 8 a.m. start time. It also created a safety hazard with schoolchildren waiting at the bus stop in the dark. I see this as a problem now as it was back then.”
Tracy Hasler had even harsher words for the state’s election officials, calling this “more idiocy from the fools who treat the downstate Illinois residents like serfs.”
The measure still has a long way to go before it becomes law, as it has only passed the state senate.
It passed in November by a vote of 44-2 with two senators voting present.
State Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo) voted for the legislation.
The bill still needs to pass the house, get Pritzker’s signature and be approved by the federal government.
Arizona is the only state in the contiguous United States that has been given an exemption on daylight saving time. Like Arizona, Hawaii also does not observe daylight saving time.
The legislation, however, does not seek such an exemption.
Thus, State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), who co-sponsored the bill, said it would not take effect unless Illinois was granted an exemption or the federal government changed how time operates.
“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,” Manar said in November. “This doesn’t say that we should ignore federal law.”
While it may seem foolish to some people, Manar has articulated some reasons for this change, chief among them that it would be a boon for businesses.
According to timeanddate.com, which cited several scholarly studies when listing the pros and cons of daylight saving times, the tourism industry does profit from the extra hour of sunlight daylight saving time provides.
That is the case because it allows people more time to go shopping, out to eat, exercise or other events.
Other commonly cited benefits of daylight saving time are that it reduces the use of artificial light, improves road safety and reduces crimes like robberies.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, which regulates time zones, lists those last three reasons for daylight saving time on its website.
While the safety arguments have some data to back them up, most research, including by the U.S. Department of Energy, shows that daylight saving time has a negligible impact on energy savings of both electricity and gasoline.
Another common argument against daylight saving time that has some factual basis is that it can lead to more sickness, depression or other health risks due to lack of sleep and earlier darkness.
Finally, opponents of the time change argue that it can cost money due to a decrease in productivity after the spring transition, and some research backs that up.