We are an increasingly divided country.
But maybe, just maybe, we can all agree that daylight saving time is terrible and should die.
That’s what Rep. Mike Freiberg (DFL-Golden Valley) is hoping, anyway. He’s one of several legislators trying to reintroduce a bill to make the time change permanent and year-round. He says the inspiration is fairly… personal.
“I have kids that are seven and 10 years old, now, but sleep training was quite a production for them,” Freiberg says. After painstakingly getting them to settle into a routine and sleep through the night, boom—for “no reason”—the clocks would have to change, and they’d have to start all over.
It wasn’t until after Freiberg got involved in this bill that he learned various studies have shown interrupting your sleep schedule this way can be bad for your heart, your brain, and anything you plan on doing with the next 14 waking hours. A few have even linked the start of daylight saving time in the spring with a brief spike in car accidents, probably due to drivers being improperly rested.
“It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose in modern society,” Freiberg says—except routinely screwing up our lives. In fact, there were two bizarre weeks in 1965 when Minneapolis was literally an hour behind St. Paul thanks to a daylight saving time quirk. Some businesses refused to move their clocks ahead, nobody knew who was late and who was early, and pretty much everyone hated it until Congress passed the Uniform Time Act and got them back on the same page.
Freiberg's proposal has bipartisan support, and might just be one of those issues that transcends politics and party loyalty. Even so, it failed to get much traction last year, possibly due to the more pressing efforts to pass the state budget. With no budget to worry about this year, he and his comrades are hoping the bill has a better chance.
So far, so good.
"The bill is moving," Senate sponsor Melisa Franzen (D-Edina) says. It can be taken up on the House floor at any time, the (Republican-controlled) Senate is not far behind, and neither Freiberg nor Franzen has encountered much resistance to the idea.
"I have received emails [from] folks concerned about the darkness in the morning, but I think that in Minnesota, we are quite famliar with less light during certain times of the year," Franzen says.
Freiberg mainly hears from people who have different opinions on whether we should switch to daylight time, and get that extra hour in the evening, or opt for standard time and get lighter, brighter mornings.
“I’ve heard from a few early risers, but they seem to be in the minority,” he says.
He’s hoping that, with any luck, his bill will hit the House floor right around the time we set our clocks forward—March 8 this year—and collectively wonder once again why the hell we do this at all.