States continue efforts to end time changes

June 2019

Keith Goble

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Legislative efforts underway in Washington, D.C., and at statehouses across the country would open the door to allowing states to act on their own for time changes.

The issue has gained steam in recent years. Political figures from both sides of the aisle have expressed support to do away with the twice-annual time switch. As a result, officials in at least 30 statehouses this year have discussed or are discussing legislation to end time changes. Among the reasons given for abandoning time switches 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.

In addition, Alabama and Florida acted last year to adopt year-round DST. However, the states cannot make the shift unless Congress changes federal law.

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

The U.S. Department of Transportation states that DST 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.

Among the factors cited for doing away with time changes is vehicle crashes.

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.

State action

At the state level, the Washington Legislature has taken action to advance a bill to the governor to have Congress authorize the state’s observance of year-round Pacific Daylight Time.

Across the state line in Oregon, a bill that has the backing of Gov. Kate Brown would abolish time changes to maintain DST throughout the year. The portion of the state in the Mountain Time Zone (Malheur County) would be exempted from permanent daylight time.

In addition to the necessary approval from Congress for the change to take effect in Oregon, the bill requires Washington and California to agree to the switch.

With the backing of California voters in November 2018, Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, has a bill to do away with time changes in the state.

Voters approved a ballot question last fall authorizing the Legislature to take action to eliminate the time switch and potentially make the move to DST all year.

Chu’s bill must receive two-thirds support in both statehouse chambers for passage. Gov. Gavin Newsom also must endorse the change.

If the above steps are taken, federal authorization would be the final phase necessary to make the change.

In Arkansas, House lawmakers have approved a resolution that calls for the state to permanently observe DST.

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

The time change issue has moved to the Tennessee governor’s desk. SB1100 calls for the General Assembly to adopt year-round observance of DST once the feds give the go-ahead to act.

One Texas measure would start the process to allow voters to indicate whether the state should observe time changes.

The House-approved legislation, HJR117, would amend the state’s Constitution to authorize the Legislature to place the question on statewide ballots. The resolution has moved to the Senate.

The full House could soon take up for consideration enabling legislation, HB3784, to put the time change question on upcoming fall ballots.

Legislative efforts in the Carolinas pursue the same rule change.

The North Carolina House voted in support of legislation to avoid the twice-annual time change. Instead, HB350 would keep the Tar Heel State on DST all year.

The bill has moved to the Senate for further consideration.

In neighboring South Carolina, S11 states that if Congress amends U.S. code to allow states to observe year-round DST it is the intent of the Legislature for “daylight saving time to be the year-round standard time.”

The Senate unanimously approved the bill. It awaits further consideration in the House.

An omnibus bill headed to the Minnesota governor includes a paragraph to adopt DST all year. SF2227 acknowledges that Congress first must authorize the state to act.

An Ohio Senate bill would align the state’s clocks with DST year-round.

During testimony to a Senate committee, Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said 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.”

Legislative efforts underway in Delaware and New Hampshire would remove the states from Eastern Standard Time – effectively adopting yearlong DST.

The New Hampshire House has acted to approve a bill to convert the state to Atlantic Standard Time all year. HB567 contains a requirement that Maine and Massachusetts also make the change to take effect in New Hampshire. A proposed amendment to include Vermont was rejected by the New Hampshire House.

A newly introduced bill in Delaware would have the state adopt Atlantic Standard Time.

SB73 specifies that Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland must also adopt the change for Delaware to make the switch. LL

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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.