BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — If Alabama has passed legislation to stop the clocks from losing an hour every year, then why is Alabama still required to “fall back” on Sunday?
To understand that you’d have to go back to World War I.
According to the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB), the U.S. first observed daylight saving time in 1918 as a means to conserve energy during the first world war. However, the following year, it was repealed after the war had come to a close, according to the UCB.
Daylight saving time was reinstated in 1942 during the World War II, according to the UCB. It wasn’t until 1966, however, that Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, making the bi-annual changing of the clock mandatory — with the exception of Hawaii and Arizona, according to the UCB.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon signed an emergency daylight saving time bill into law, making the time change permanent year-round, in a move to combat a national energy crisis in the U.S.
Yet, by the following year, public opinion on permanent daylight saving time had drastically changed, and President Gerald Ford signed a bill returning the nation to standard time for four months of the year. Hence, every year, the U.S. turns its clocks forward an hour in the spring and back an hour in the fall.
More recently, in January 2021, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., first introduced the Sunshine Protection Act, which advocates for a permanent daylight saving time — meaning clocks would not “fall back” after the country had “sprung forward.”
In March 2022, the act was reintroduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
According to The Hill, Rubio said “strong science” shows that time changes can lead to heart attacks, car accidents and pedestrian accidents among other issues.
“The benefits of daylight saving time has been accounted for in the research: Reduced crime as there is light later in the day, decrease in seasonal depression that many feel during standard time and the practical one,” Rubio said on the Senate floor last year.
In 2023, Rubio filed a bill that would make daylight saving time permanent.
This year, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., introduced a bill that would grant states the right to observe daylight saving time year-round. It was later referred to the Subcommittee on Innovation, Data, and Commerce in March and remains there.
At the end of the day, states cannot stop the time changes without federal action from Congress.
Under the Uniform Time Act, passed in the 60s, the U.S. only has two ways it can enact change: Congress enacts a federal law, or a state or local government gets permission from the Secretary of Transportation to stay on permanent standard time — currently observed from November to March.
“This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid,” Rubio said in a statement last year. “Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support. This Congress, I hope that we can finally get this done.”
As of September 2023, states that had recently enacted legislation or resolutions to change daylight saving time included Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.
This year, clocks will shift back an hour on Sunday.