'Do we still have to change our clocks?' Yes, you do

There’s a lot of confusion about Daylight Saving Time in Tennessee this year.  Some say “the media” told them that Tennessee passed a law that will discontinue that annoying practice of changing your clocks twice a year.  Well, not exactly.

Here’s the short version: despite what you may have seen, read, or heard, DST is not being extended in Tennessee.  In the early morning hours of Sunday November 3rd, you must “fall back” one hour. While you’re at it, go ahead and plan on “springing forward” on March 8, 2020. And so it goes, for the foreseeable future.

Even though the Tennessee Legislature has voted for year-round DST, and the bill was signed by Governor Bill Lee, the US Congress must act before that can happen. Tennessee has made its feelings known, but just like that old saying, it really will take an “act of Congress” to move forward.

Here’s the problem: Tennessee can’t make such a dramatic change on its own, because other states would be affected.  According to the US Department of Transportation, “time standards are important for many modes of interstate transportation,” and that’s why the federal government sets the zones, all over the nation. So even though Tennessee has passed a bill into law, in reality the state has just shown its support for the change.

Now, if and when Congress votes to exempt states from the Uniform Time Act (passed in 1966), those states can go to DST year-round. Then, and only then can Tennessee make it final. (Florida is also on board, citing potential benefits for tourism).

So far, it’s a slow go in Congress (surprise!). In March 2019, Florida Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill that would get this done, but it hasn’t made it out of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

When DST began, I was barely old enough to pay attention, and not really old enough to care, but I do have one vivid memory.  For some reason, it took my family a few years to figure out what to do with the clocks at bedtime on those time-change Saturday nights. On more than one occasion, we walked into church red-faced as everyone else was leaving, or we sat in the car for an hour waiting for everyone else to arrive.

Time was already confusing enough where we lived, in the northeastern corner of Alabama.  We were in the Central time zone, closely bordered by the Eastern time zone states of Georgia and Tennessee, where most of my Alabama neighbors went to work.  Every day, many times a day, we would have to clarify “fast time” (Eastern) and “slow time” (Central). If you were going to a ball game with friends from out of state, you would ask, “What time does it start?” The answer might be “Seven-thirty.” That was never enough information.  So we had to ask, “But is that fast time or slow time?” People who weren’t “from around here” looked at us like we were crazy.

Personally, I’m mixed. I’m one of those folks whose mood improves when the sun is out. I find myself in a bit of a sad mood when it gets dark so early.  I also hate to see school children waiting for a bus in the dark. In my perfect world, we would figure out a year-round time zone in which that would never happen.

I also find myself never bothering to change some of my clocks when DST ends in November. It’s just too much trouble. Some of them are high on the wall, and they’re hard to reach. Others are too complicated.  And I have to push about 3 buttons for the one in my car.  Heck, I’ll just wait four months until March, and those clocks will be right again!

Plus, what is this time change doing to your internal clock? According to a study from the University of Michigan, the number of heart attacks goes up 24 percent on the Monday following the spring-forward. One theory is that the increased risk may be linked to that lost hour of sleep.

So for now, you’re stuck with it, unless you want to move to Arizona.  Because of Arizona’s hot climate, DST has been considered unnecessary since 1967. In that state, the argument against extending the daylight hours into the evening is that Arizonians prefer to do their activities in the cooler evening temperatures.

So when your neighbors and Facebook friends tell you that the law has been changed in Tennessee, they’re right about that.  But until Congress takes the “time” to amend the law, you will still be changing your clocks twice a year.

Summing up, YES, go ahead and turn your clocks back at 2:00 a.m. early Sunday November 3rd.  Unlike some people I know, you won’t be an hour early for church.

(This story is from David Carroll's ChattanoogaRadioTV.com)