- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Utah could become one of three states where clocks aren’t adjusted twice a year if lawmakers take up planned legislation that would have the state opt out of daylight saving time.

State Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, said at a legislative meeting Wednesday that he will run a bill next year to either align Utah’s clocks with Arizona and stay on Mountain Standard Time year-round or to keep clocks set an hour ahead all year on daylight saving time.

Osmond said he hasn’t decided what his bill will recommend, but he said his preference right now is to stop adjusting clocks. “I believe we have to make a decision one way or another as a Legislature,” he said.

Parents and teachers contend that adjusting clocks is tough on students, while tourism officials and outdoor recreationists say daylight saving offers extra sunlight to enjoy the outdoors and tourist attractions.

Countries around the world began adopting the practice of daylight saving time during World War I to conserve resources. In the U.S., Congress passed the first daylight saving time legislation in 1918. About 50 years later, Congress put national daylight saving time into effect from the last Sunday in April through the last Sunday in October. Congress extended it by a month in 2007.

States are free to opt out, and U.S. territories such as Guam and Puerto Rico don’t observe daylight saving time.

Arizona stopped adjusting clocks in 1968 under pressure from businesses, while Hawaii never opted in.

Osmond and other Utah legislators discussed the issue Wednesday after reviewing a report and informal survey from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, which lawmakers tasked with studying the issue.

More than 27,000 people voted in the online survey and left more than 13,700 submitted comments.

Michael O’Malley, the agency’s marketing director, was questioned about the sample size and method of questioning Wednesday, and he said the survey was very informal and not scientific. “This is probably closer to a USA Today infographic than a rigorous study,” he said.

In addition to the survey, the economic development office held several public meetings on the issue, including a meeting in July where parents complained that the time change forced children to walk to school and bus stops in the dark.

About 100 government agencies and organizations considered key stakeholders also weighed in, with about half of those groups preferring the status quo, O’Malley said.

The Utah Youth Soccer Association reported that daylight saving time allows them to schedule more soccer games, so they’d prefer to keep things as they are or permanently set the clocks an hour ahead on daylight time.

The state Department of Agriculture and Food reported farmers and ranchers were mixed on the issue. Some had no opinion, but many farmers and ranchers wanted to permanently set clocks an hour ahead.

“More agricultural producers than ever before have daytime jobs away from the farm. Daylight saving time provides more time after work to take care of farm work,” the agriculture department reported.

Brian Anderson, a Salt Lake City resident, told lawmakers that he favors the status quo because the extra daylight in summer allows him to exercise outdoors after work. “If that window was shortened, all the sudden you don’t have time to play a golf round. You don’t have time to go hiking, to go to the park, to jog, whatever you choose to do in daylight for recreation,” he said.

Several proposals to drop daylight saving time have died at the Legislature in recent years. For those who want to drop daylight saving time, this year’s study is the big leap forward.

Rep. Ronda Menlove, a Garland Republican, said she sponsored the measure requesting the study after hearing constituent complaints for years. Since taking up the issue, Menlove said Wednesday that thousands of people have contacted her about daylight saving time, including representatives in other states.

“Even though some people questioned its importance, it’s an important issue to people,” she said. “We represent the people, and this is something they wanted to be heard on.”

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Follow Michelle L. Price at https://twitter.com/michellelprice

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