SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lawmakers last year voted to make daylight saving time permanent, ensuring Utahns would never have to change their clocks and enjoy an extra hour of sunlight at the end of the day.
But as you might have noticed, Utah is not currently observing daylight saving — the days are short — and that's unlikely to change anytime soon.
The 2020 bill, SB59, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, needs a little outside help before it can go into effect. The law stipulates that four other western states must pass similar legislation before Utah's clocks would actually change.
According to a running tally from the National Conference of State Legislatures, four of those western states have already passed permanent daylight saving laws: Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming. But because of the specific language of those bills, Utah would need a little more help before it could make the switch.
Idaho's law only applies to the northern parts of the state that observe Pacific Time; under SB59, only "a portion" of the minimum four states needs to be on year-round daylight saving time for Utah's law to go into effect.
Oregon's bill requires both Washington and California to make the change alongside it. Washington already has a law on the books, but California doesn't yet despite a 2018 voter proposition urging lawmakers to make the switch.
Like Utah, Wyoming requires that four other western states make the change with it. But Wyoming's list of "western" states is different from Utah's — it includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah, and so far of those only Idaho and Utah have partially or fully passed a permanent daylight saving bill.
So Utah is close to getting the neighborly help it needs to have year-round daylight saving time, but its last obstacle will come not from the West, but from Washington.
American states are already allowed to opt out of time changes, but they can only do it one way — by observing standard time year-round and ditching daylight saving altogether. That's because of the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which formalized the start and end dates for daylight saving time across the country, ending a confusing patchwork of local laws.
The act allows states to opt out of daylight saving time but not to use it permanently. Hawaii and most of Arizona do not observe daylight saving time, and American territories like Guam and Puerto Rico don't, either.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been trying to change this dynamic for years. He's introduced the Sunshine Protection Act several times over the past few years to make daylight saving time permanent across the country. It has yet to gain much traction despite bipartisan support.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least three more states — Arkansas, South Carolina and Texas — are considering permanent daylight saving legislation this year; however, Texas is not a "western" state under the standards of SB59.
So, Utah and 12 other states wait for Washington to finish what they started and finally end the biannual tradition of changing the time.
Utah's clocks will "spring forward" once again in less than a month, on March 14.