TGIF: Seeking consensus on what to do about daylight saving time

Brownwood Bulletin
Gene Deason

The first time I became aware of how inconvenient daylight saving time can be was in my final semester of high school. Major semester projects were due in two of my classes on the same Monday, and I had already developed the tendency to procrastinate — a character flaw that’s haunted me throughout life.

The weekend was complicated by the fact that it was also when daylight saving time began. The lost hour added to my anxiety.

The weather was nice, and friends were beckoning, but every minute was being devoted to these projects. It was my introduction to the phrase “pull an all-nighter.”

I worked through my exhaustion to finish both projects. I woke up after maybe three hours of sleep, pulled on clothes, went to school to turn in everything, and went back home for more sleep. I had never cut a day of school before.

I’ve not been much of a fan of DST since. “Springing forward” is never fun, and in recent years, even the extra hour of sleep afforded by “falling back” has required something of an adjustment. Change is hard.

Two bills have been introduced in the Texas Legislature that would allow citizens to vote on ending these twice-a-year contortions. Passage of the measures could mean that voters would eventually choose whether to observe standard time or daylight time year-round. I’m unable to immediately discern whether there would be an option on the ballot to keep the status quo, or how it would affect the small area of Texas that’s currently in Mountain Time.

Ultimately, however, it might take Congressional action before such changes could become permanent.

As much as I dislike the upheaval caused by moving clocks forward in the spring and backward in the fall, I do like the extra hour of daylight during warm weather months. Meanwhile, the “fall back” command helps prevent school children from heading off to class in the predawn darkness. If twice-a-year time-shifts are what we have to endure to have the best of both worlds, I favor making no change.

Texas spans two time zones, Central and Mountain, so the legislation would have to specify whether the entire state is affected, or just one side of the dividing line. If it’s the latter, it would presumably be the eastern side, because the western tip of Texas is more closely tied economically and socially to its neighbors.

Bills exempting Texas from the time shift are filed in the legislature every time it meets. So far, none has advanced very far.

 An article posted online this month by The Texanist in Texas Monthly reminded me that El Paso has never appreciated outsiders making decisions about the time zone it observes. I discussed that history in this column four years ago.

In 1921, the federal government put El Paso in the Central Zone with the rest of Texas. The El Paso area ignored that decision for some 40 years. Then, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 required states to conform to its time zone and daylight saving regulations, with a few exceptions. El Paso didn’t want to switch, so it didn’t, according to a story found in the El Paso Times.

It came to a head in 1969 when the federal government inquired of the state transportation department why official Texas maps still showed El Paso in the Mountain Zone. The answer was, that’s where its residents want to be. A year later, El Paso prevailed, and Congress amended the Uniform Time Act to put El Paso and Hudspeth counties where they wanted to be.

That’s what happens, I guess, when you mess with Texas.

Regardless of what happens in the Texas Legislature, I probably will simply go along. What choice do I have?

Meanwhile, until something changes, assuming it ever does, I know I’ll be struggling to stay alert this Sunday. I’ll also be complaining I have one less hour before the deadline for next week’s column.

Don’t be late for church!

Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column “TGIF” appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at tgifcolumn@yahoo.com.