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Senators to introduce bills creating year-round standard time

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Brett Davis

(The Center Square) – Over the weekend, most – but not all – Americans saw daylight time end for 2023 by setting their clocks back an hour as part of the twice-annual time change that impacts a majority of the country.

Moving clocks forward one hour from standard time during the summer months and changing them back again in the fall to take advantage of natural daylight is a practice a pair of state senators in Washington and Oregon want to do away with. They plan to introduce bills early next year in their respective legislative sessions to put their states on standard time year-round.

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PROMO Map - Washington State Map - iStock - klenger

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“If there is one issue most people agree on, it’s the dislike of moving their clocks from standard time to daylight saving time in the spring and then back to standard time in the fall,” Washington state Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, who will introduce his year-round standard-time bill when the state’s 2024 session begins January 8, said in a Monday news release.

This is not the first time lawmakers in the Evergreen State and the Beaver State have attempted to end the twice-a-year clock changes.

“I introduced Senate Bill 320 in 2019 that would change Oregon to permanent daylight saving time,” Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, remarked in the same news release. “Even though the bill passed it was contingent on Washington and California passing a similar bill and then all the states seeking permission from the federal government. Washington passed a bill but California never did, though their people overwhelmingly passed a proposition in 2018 to ditch the switch.” 

That same year, Padden supported the passage of House Bill 1196, allowing for the year-round observation of daylight saving time.

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The problem with this approach is that states can’t do away with standard time unless Congress approves. That’s because federal law allows states to opt out of daylight saving time, but it does not allow states to do the opposite – that is, Congress must grant states a federal waiver or the U.S. Secretary of Transportation must approve staying on daylight saving time permanently.

The U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 on March 15 of that year, which would have made daylight saving time permanent on Nov. 5 of this year.

The legislation, which was co-sponsored by Washington U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, stalled in the House.

“It confuses and annoys many people, and it causes health problems for some,” Padden said of “falling back” every November and “springing forward” every March. “That’s why Sen. Thatcher and I are working together to see if our respective legislatures can keep our clocks on standard time year-round.”

During the 2022 legislative session, Padden co-sponsored Senate Bill 5511 to have Washington state on standard time until Congress authorizes states to observe daylight saving time year-round.

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The legislation stated that “changing to and from daylight saving time twice per year has negative impacts on public health, increases traffic accidents and crime, disrupts agricultural scheduling, and hinders economic growth.”

The Senate did not pass the bill.

During this year’s legislative session in Oregon, Thatcher introduced Senate Bill 1090 to abolish the one-hour change in time from standard time to daylight saving time and keep the state in standard time all year, except in a portion of Oregon in the Mountain Time Zone.

SB 1090 failed to make it out of the Legislature.

The two senators indicated they have been in contact with lawmakers in California, Idaho and Nevada about introducing similar bills in those states.

Only two states – Arizona and Hawaii – don’t observe daylight saving time at all, meaning residents there don’t have to change their clocks twice a year.

Heat is a factor in Arizona’s 1968 decision to forgo having the sunset an hour later during the hottest months of the year. The only parts of Arizona that do follow daylight saving time are those within the Navajo Nation, because its territory extends into states that do change the time.

Hawaii’s location near the equator makes daylight saving time essentially useless in that the amount of sunlight during the day doesn’t vary much during the year.