Mads Jensen
Capital West News Service

Even in the middle of winter, the shadows don't start getting long until 6 p.m. Are Utahns ready for an earlier sunset? (Photo by Kaitlyn Johnson | The Signpost)
Even in the middle of winter, the shadows don’t start getting long until 6 p.m. Are Utahns ready for an earlier sunset? (Photo by Kaitlyn Johnson | The Signpost)

SALT LAKE CITY – The results of a recently conducted survey on daylight saving time, conducted by Gov. Gary Herbert’s office, were presented by Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, at a recent gathering of the Legislature’s rural caucus.

The study was mandated by HB197, Daylight Savings Time Study, a 2014 bill signed by the governor. The voluntary survey asked participants whether they would like to keep the current approach to daylight saving time, align with Arizona’s time (referred to as a permanent fall back) or create a new daylight savings (referred to as a permanent spring forward).

According to Perry’s Feb. 6 presentation, 17-18 percent of those surveyed preferred to retain the current system, while nearly 68 percent of the 28,000 responses favor aligning with Arizona and another 17-18 percent of respondents want to create a new daylight saving. The demographics of respondents were varied.

Still, some were skeptical of the data.

With voluntary surveys, “we always get something called selection bias,” said Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan. “People who really have a strong opinion and are excited about [the topic] fill out the survey as they see fit, and the people who are maybe more moderate in their views or feelings, or don’t know about the survey, just don’t do it.”

Sen. Evan J. Vickers, R-Cedar City, also had misgivings over the results of the bill. Among respondents in Washington County, part of his district, 55 percent of respondents wanted to retain the current daylight saving time, and 45 percent wanted to align with Arizona, he said.

“More importantly,” he joked, “my wife told me that if I vote to do away with daylight savings, [I shouldn’t] come home. So you know where I stand.”

Vickers also mentioned the Farm Bureau’s strong policy advocating retention of daylight saving time.

Perry’s comments also highlighted studies indicating a higher risk for cardiac arrest during the seven days after switching the clocks in the spring.

“I haven’t seen the source or read the article that Representative Perry is talking about,” said Redd, but we could also say that living in Nevada causes lung cancer because the instance of lung cancer is a lot higher in Nevada than it is in Utah. We have to be careful about how we draw conclusions. There’s other factors that may be involved with these heart attack rates with daylight savings,” he said.

Perry made it clear that the bill has not gone to committee and mentioned that the legislature is hesitant to move forward without Idaho also being on board. The Idaho State Legislature is currently working on a very similar bill.

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