It was Benjamin Franklin who first suggested saving daylight.
But Franklin was kidding.
He wanted to fire off cannons at sunrise to scare everyone out of bed. Thus his readers, he argued, could conduct the day’s business while the sun was shining, go early to bed, and save a fortune on candles.
Everyone laughed, but the idea took root. Don’t waste daylight. Time is money.
During World War I, when Germany set its clocks ahead an hour, everybody else sprang forward to keep up. We were losing an hour of sleep, but we were going to save a fortune on light bulbs.
This week, as a sleepy nation sprang forward again, a bipartisan group of Minnesota lawmakers had had enough.
Enough with the lost hour of sleep that you never really get back. Enough with resetting all the clocks in the house, except the one in the coffeemaker we can’t remember how to reprogram and the one in the car we’re going to forget until it makes us incredibly early or late for something.
“Every single Minnesotan is touched by the changing of time [and] all the havoc it plays,” state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, said during a hearing before the Senate State Government Committee this week. Her legislation, and a companion bill in the House, would lock down Minnesota’s clock on Standard Time year-round.
You can lose more than an hour of sleep during the spring shift to daylight saving time, Kiffmeyer testified. One researcher estimates springing forward is responsible for at least 30 deaths and hundreds of millions of dollars in social costs every year.
If you doubt that last point, I’d just like to point out that somebody found a bunch of year-old Easter candy and put a pile of stale chocolate bunnies on the newsroom’s free food table this week, and reporters are not not-eating them right now.
House sponsor Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, is one of the suffering Minnesota parents who have to break the bad news to their children twice a year that the clock is a lie. His bill would lock Minnesota on daylight saving time.
“I started caring more about this when my kids were very little and being sleep trained,” he said. “I would just finally get to the point where they were waking up at 6:30, which was still pretty early for me, and we’d fall back and they’d be waking up at 5:30. It just seemed pretty senseless to me.”
Suddenly, Minnesota had an issue that doesn’t break along party lines and doesn’t spark a bitter debate.
The time change affects everyone. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone’s opinions are valid.
Maybe you love getting that hour back during the autumn time change. Maybe you wouldn’t enjoy 9 a.m. sunrises if Minnesota stayed on Daylight Saving Time in the dead of winter. Maybe you’d mourn the lost summer sunsets on the patio if we stayed on Standard Time year round.
Maybe you’re just amazed that here is an issue where both Republican President Donald Trump and Minnesota’s Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman can find common ground.
“Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!” the president tweeted this week.
“I had hoped to suspend the Rules and bring this up for immediate consideration, but apparently it’s not ‘noncontroversial,’ ” Hortman tweeted, along with a photo of House File 1397, a bill that would allow Minnesota to “observe advanced standard time year-round.” That is, make Daylight Saving Time permanent.
Under federal law, permanently saving daylight is the one thing Americans cannot do. We can spring forward and we can fall back, or we can stay back on Standard Time like Hawaii and most of Arizona.
Opening up an “advanced standard time” option would take an act of Congress. And some in Congress are eager to do just that. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is pushing a nationwide “Sunshine Protection Act” right now.
None of this will help you with the fact that you’re tired right now and your kids or your dog or the dairy cows in the barn can’t tell time. It takes about a week to fully adjust to a time change, so be good to yourself, drive carefully and gradually adjust your bedtime and wake times until you’re rested and ready to fall back on Nov. 3.