Oklahoma State Senator Blake Stephens of Tahlequah leads ‘locking the clock’ study of Daylight Savings Time

Oklahoma City – State Senator Blake Stephens, R-Tahlequah, hosted an interim study on October 19 looking at the benefits of “locking the clock” and making Daylight Saving Time (DST) the official time in Oklahoma year-round.

In order for Oklahoma to implement permanent DST, the federal government would first have to pass a measure to allow the change. Legislation – The Sunshine Protection Act – has been proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and supported by Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma. However, states can pass precursor legislation making DST the permanent time in their respective states that would be triggered to go into effect if federal law permits such action.

Data from Oklahoma Department of Commerce Director of Research and Economic Analysis Jon Chiappe shows 18 states across the nation have already enacted legislation or passed resolutions to make DST their official standard time if approved by Congress.

These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Ohio, Oregon, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

California voters approved this change in 2018, but legislative action is pending.“Daylight Saving Time is already observed eight months out of the year, so this change would only impact four months – November through March,” Stephens said.“

Extending daylight at the end of the day has been proven to have a multitude of health and sleep impacts and would also add extra daylight for families to be active, children to participate in extracurricular activities and our farmers and ranchers to safely work in the evenings.”

Representatives from the Oklahoma State Department of Health said there is a strong correlation between changing times and the disruption of human circadian rhythm and hormonal balance.

Lauren Larson, MPS, and Adriana Dragicevic, MS, CHES, said such disruption is tied to a direct imbalance of all bodily systems, including the heart, liver, muscles and fat. Studies have shown in the week prior to and following DST, the risk of acute heart attack symptoms rose and digestive system disorders and discomforts rose 3 percent in women and 6 percent in boys under 10. Studies have also shown that switching times throughout the year can impact appetite levels, sleep schedule and motivation for physical activity.

The end of DST also poses a bevy of mental health issues and is societal-enforced jet lag, said Susan Donnelly with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Time change impacts the continued release of melatonin, increasing the risk of mental health disorders; can lead to a drop of serotonin levels from less sun exposure, which can destabilize mood, feelings and happiness; can lead to a rise of the stress hormone cortisol; and can lead to an increase in adrenaline, which increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. The end of DST can also lead to increased inflammation, which serves as a risk factor for anxiety and depression, and insufficient or deficient Vitamin D levels – essential for mental and physical health.

“It’s no secret that Oklahoma ranks among the bottom in the nation in our health outcomes, and science proves that switching from DST to Central Standard Time (CST) has a negative impact on health,” Stephens said.

“Adopting DST as our standard time year-round would work towards a healthier Oklahoma, decreasing health-related costs for our citizens and state.”

According to retired meteorologist Steve Amburn, DST provides more daylight at warmer temperatures during non-working hours, twice as many hours above a given temperature threshold than changing to CST.

Extra daylight included during non-working hours is a positive for agriculturalists across the state, said JanLee Rowlett, Oklahoma Department of Food and Forestry deputy commissioner and Scott Blubaugh, American Farmers and Ranchers president.

Considering about 65 percent of Oklahoma’s agricultural producers have off-farm jobs, year-round DST would allow for longer days to finish on-farm chores, increase safety and productivity, allow more time for youth activities and provide extended time for commerce opportunities like agritourism, farmers markets and the like.

“This isn’t a drastic change in our day-to-day lives, but it could make a huge impact on our health and productivity outcomes as a state,” Sen. Stephens said.

“Even if we passed legislation making DST the official time year-round in Oklahoma, we’d still have to wait for federal approval for the change to go into effect. However, now is the time to be proactive and get this across the finish line – further proving to Congress that this is a change our state wants.” Stephens said he will reintroduce Senate Bill 843, which he filed during the last legislative session to make DST permanent, and is still eligible to be heard in committee.

The Second Session of the 58th Legislature will begin on Monday, Feb. 7.