Time Zone Report

Following Daylight Saving Time legislation in the US

Comments to Utah Legislature on SCR 1

Jack Duffy has been following Time Zone Report for a bit, and we’ve exchanged Email a time or two and spoken by phone.  He’s currently in Utah, and has been following the legislation there with keen interest.

During our phone conversation, it was evident to me that he has a wealth of information, including access to historical documents, and sounded like he might even possess a few of them.  Some are from the 60s, when the time zones were being standardized, and from the early 70s, when the US tried Year-Round DST for a brief period.

So when he told me he was planning to speak to the Utah legislature regarding SCR 1, their proposal to change from the Mountain Time Zone to the Central Time Zone, I wasn’t surprised.  He offered me a copy of this remarks, which are included here.



To Change Utah’s Designated Time Zone and Observance of

Daylight Saving Time

February 4, 2015

I am very concerned about a resolution calling for Utah to observe Mountain Daylight Time throughout the year. Advocates are evidently unaware of what happened when Utah went on year-round DST beginning Sunday, January 6, 1974.  The following Friday, less than a week in to its observance, a Deseret News headline read, “DST unleashes a storm of controversy.”  The Governor’s office received “numerous calls from people concerned about children walking to school, or waiting for buses in the darkness” (Deseret News, January 11, 1974, pages A1 & 6A)

School principals and superintendents also received “scores” of calls requesting school start times be delayed until daylight, along with “as many or more calls from citizens asking them to stay with daylight time because any change would upset work schedules.” Three children were hit by cars in the pre-dawn darkness and an East High School student was raped and robbed on her way to class, all in the first four school days of year-round DST. (Deseret News, January 11, 1974, pages A1 & 6A)

The state school board, as well as the Salt Lake City and Weber local boards, passed resolutions calling for the end of year-round DST for the safety of our school children.   (Rampton correspondence files, Utah State Archives.  Series 20904 reel #6 designation box 3 folder 6; also Wayne Owens papers, University of Utah Library Special Collections, MS 108, Box 34, folder 9)

A woman in Layton wrote Governor Rampton: “somebody has got to be joking, a sick joke I must add, about sending these small children to school in the dark to save energy”. (Jan 27, 1974 letter from Wilma J Burton, Layton 84041.  Rampton correspondence files, Utah State Archives.  Series 20904 reel #6 designation box 3 folder 6)

By the second week of our winter DST observance in January, Governor Cal Rampton asked Attorney General Vernon Romney if the legislature could exempt the state from it.  (Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Jan 1974, p. 22)

On January 26, 1974, Governor Rampton wrote US Representative Wayne Owens requesting Congress repeal the year-round DST law. In Representative Owens’ February 4th response, he said his mail “expresses sharp constituent opposition to DST during the winter months.” The lawmaker noted he was “painfully aware of the serious accidents which have occurred in Utah…involving small children traveling to school in the dark morning hours.”  Even though he voted for it, Owens made an about-face and said the year-round DST law should be rescinded only a month after it was implemented.  (Wayne Owens papers, University of Utah Library Special Collections, MS 108, Box 34, folder 8)

According to a Reuters News Agency report, three weeks after year-round DST went into effect, Senators of both parties introduced legislation seeking its repeal citing “complaints over traffic accidents and assaults on children going to school during the predawn darkness,” pressuring Congress to “repeal the legislation” (Salt Lake Tribune, 29 Jan 1974, p.10)

The legislature, meeting in its budget session, joined the growing chorus calling for an end to winter DST. The Utah Senate unanimously passed a resolution on January 31, 1974 petitioning Congress for a DST-free Utah from the First Sunday of October to the Last Sunday of March (1974 Utah Senate Journal, p, 237).  The Utah House followed and passed the resolution by a 70-5 vote two days later (1974 Utah House Journal, p. 293).

On February 13, 1974, two Senate Judiciary Committee staff attorneys spoke at the University of Utah and called The Emergency Daylight Saving Act a “flop” adding “savings have been small and kids have been killed.” (Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Feb 1974, p.22)

Sixty-four percent of Utahns said they opposed year-round DST in a Bardsley poll published in the April 14, 1974 Salt Lake Tribune (p. A7).

What if you took a trip from Denver to Las Vegas to go home for the holidays? You’d have to set your clock one hour ahead when you hit the Utah border, then two hours back when you arrive at the Nevada border.

Jack Duffy

e-mail: duffy.jd@gmail.com

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