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Montana bill would make daylight saving time permanent if neighbors do the same

Montana bill would make daylight saving time permanent if neighbors do the same

If enough other states around Montana moved to year-round daylight saving time, the Big Sky State would follow suit under a bill advancing through the Legislature.

Going back to at least 2009, lawmakers have weighed doing away with the twice-yearly springing forward and the falling back, either through adopting daylight saving time permanently or only keeping Mountain Standard Time.

In the past, arguments for and against the proposals have been plentiful and ranged from frustrations over disruption of sleep cycles to debate over what's the most dangerous for traffic.

For some, setting the clock forward one hour for daylight saving time might just mean losing an hour of sleep; however, for others, the change can cause major harm to their health.

One common objection to prior bills has been that it would create conflict with other states, which this year's iteration aimed to eliminate. 

Under Senate Bill 254, from Sen. Mary McNally, D-Billings, Montana would move to daylight saving time if at least four other Western states did and it's approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation or Congress.

A search of legislative records shows that a daylight saving bill has not advanced beyond committee before McNally's. The bill received a 64-36 vote on second reading and if it clears a final vote, likely Friday, it would go to the governor.

Support for the bill came from a mix of Democrats and Republicans in the House on Thursday.

Rep. Katie Zolnikov, R-Billings, listed what she called the benefits of moving to permanent daylight saving time.

"Children, they play outside, they play games, they play sports, they're not inside playing their Xboxes, just being slaves to technology," Zolnikov said.

Rep. Dennis Lenz, a fellow Billings Republican, said he opposed the bill.

"Today's the day that I finally decided I like the clock change twice a year, because it only happens twice a year as opposed to the half-dozen times we've heard this, and I'm a no (vote)," Lenz said.

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Montana State Bureau Chief

State Bureau reporter for Lee Newspapers of Montana.

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