Action continues at statehouses to end time changes

July 26, 2019

Keith Goble

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The pursuit of doing away with twice-annual time changes continues to gain steam at statehouses across the country. Political figures from both sides of the aisle have expressed support to do away with changing clocks in the spring and fall.

Among the reasons given at the federal and state levels of government for abandoning time changes is traffic safety.

Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the lone states not to take part in time changes. The two states do not recognize daylight saving time. Neither do the United States’ five populated territories.

Alabama and Florida acted last year to adopt year-round daylight saving time. In 2019, five more states have taken action.

However, the states cannot make the shift unless Congress changes federal law.

Federal law does not require states to observe daylight saving time, but if they choose to follow the time change they must adhere to the dates set.

The U.S. Department of Transportation states that daylight saving time is observed because it saves energy, saves lives and prevents traffic injuries, and reduces crime.

Critics counter the time changes may have been useful for some during a bygone era but it provides little if any real benefit.

Limited support for federal action

In Congress, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., introduced the Sunshine Protection Act to recognize daylight saving time all year for the entire country. The Senate version has picked up a pair of Democratic co-sponsors while the house bill has a total of eight co-sponsors – five Republicans and three Democrats

President Donald Trump has indicated his support for making permanent daylight saving time and eliminating time changes.

State action

As support grows at the federal level for eliminating time changes, officials in at least 30 statehouses this year have discussed or are discussing legislation to do the same.

In the state of Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law a bill to have Congress authorize the state’s observance of year-round Pacific Daylight Time.

Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, said his bill – HB1196 – is a first step to abandon the “archaic tradition” of time changes.

One new law in Tennessee calls for year-round observance of DST.

HB247 would permit the change as long as the feds authorize states to take action.

Earlier this year in Arkansas, a resolution was approved that calls for the state to permanently observe daylight saving time.

HR1034 includes one caveat. In addition to needing federal approval, the switch would be contingent on Arkansas’ six neighboring states also making the change.

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown signed into law a bill to abolish time changes to maintain daylight saving time throughout the year. The portion of the state in the Mountain Time Zone (Malheur County) would be exempt from permanent daylight time.

In addition to the necessary approval from Congress for the change to take effect in Oregon, SB320 states that both Washington and California would also need to agree to the switch.

A joint memorial also passed through the Oregon statehouse. SJM6 urges Congress to allow states to adopt the later time.

One new rule in South Carolina also opens the door to abandoning time changes.

S11 states that if Congress amends U.S. code to permit states to observe year-round daylight saving time it is the intent of the Legislature for “daylight saving time to be the year-round standard time.”

An Ohio Senate bill, SB119, would align the state’s clocks with daylight saving time year-round.

Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said during a recent Senate committee hearing that biannual time changes have a negative effect on driving.

“We have found that biannual time changes have been shown to endanger the lives of drivers due to sleep deprivation.”

A bill on the Delaware governor’s desk would remove the state from Eastern Standard Time – effectively adopting yearlong daylight saving time.

SB73 would have the state adopt Atlantic Standard Time. The bill specifies that Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland must also adopt the change for Delaware to make the switch.

In preparation for the 2020 regular session, Kentucky two state lawmakers have prefiled for consideration a bill to keep the state on daylight saving time year-round.

Sponsored by Republican Reps. Brandon Reed of Hodgenville and Bart Rowland of Tompkinsville, the bill would rely on the federal government to act before the state would be able to make the change.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.