HELENA – A state senator Monday presented a bill to ask Montana voters whether they want to get rid of daylight-saving time in the state – but the bill ran into more opposition than support.
“I do know that in my district, people want (to get rid of it),” said Sen. John Esp, R-Big Timber. “They don’t want to have to go through the changes it does, to certain people’s body clocks.”
Esp’s Senate Bill 153 would place a referendum on the 2020 ballot, asking voters whether they want to eliminate daylight-saving time in Montana and go strictly to Mountain Standard Time. Montana is on daylight-saving time about eight months out of the year, from early spring to mid-fall.
Yet several people rose Monday before the Senate State Administration Committee to oppose the bill, saying year-round Standard Time would wreak havoc with small businesses, trucking schedules and sporting and recreation activities in the evening.
Ross Morgan, a ranch manager who lives north of Helena, said kids’ athletic events and practices, anglers, boaters and other recreationists take advantage of Montana’s long spring and summer days.
If daylight-saving time is done away with, darkness would put a crimp in many of those activities, he said.
Lobbyists for electrical contractors and truckers also spoke against SB153.
Barry “Spook” Stang of the Motor Carriers of Montana said for trucking companies that deal with warehouses near the North Dakota or South Dakota borders, they’d have three different time zones in the spring, summer and early fall months.
“You go into North Dakota a little ways and you’re in the Central time zone,” he said. “That’s going to mess up a lot of delivery schedules, if those two other states are on daylight-saving time and we’re not.”
Margaret Morgan said the change would pose similar problems for electrical contractors who may have offices in neighboring states, creating unnecessary time differences among Montana and Wyoming and the Dakotas.
Ross Morgan also said it’s not accurate to compare Montana to Arizona, which does not have daylight saving time.
Arizona has more consistent hours of daylight because it’s much farther south, and is used to having more events at night, when it’s cooler, he said.
“They’re already accustomed to 12-hour days year-round,” he said.
The committee didn’t immediately vote on the bill.