Changes coming to daylight saving time?

March 6, 2020

Keith Goble

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As the nation prepares for the switch to daylight saving time on Sunday, March 8, the pursuit of doing away with twice-annual time changes is gaining steam at statehouses across the country. Federal efforts in the U.S. House and Senate also call for ending the practice of changing clocks in the spring and fall.

Political figures from both sides of the aisle have expressed support for abandoning time changes. Among the reasons given by government officials for taking action on the issue is traffic safety.

Background

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

Ohio state Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, refers to changing between standard and daylight saving as “government-induced biannual jetlag.”

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

Recent legislative action

One year ago, officials in 40 statehouses discussed legislation to end the observance of time changes. So far this year bills in more than 30 states are keeping going the conversation.

Federal law permits a state to exempt itself from observing daylight saving time. Arizona and Hawaii are the lone states to take advantage of the exemption. The feds, however, do not allow states to stay on daylight saving time throughout the year. Instead, Congress must sign-off on granting states the privilege.

Florida lawmakers acted in 2018 to adopt year-round daylight saving time. Delaware, Maine, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington state have since followed suit. Despite their interest in making the change, the states must wait for Congress to take action.

In 2015, the Nevada Senate adopted a resolution to encourage the feds to take action on the issue. In the past year, legislatures in Arkansas, Oregon and Utah have done the same.

2020 daylight saving time legislation

Legislative efforts from Alaska to Vermont are divided between states with bills to keep daylight saving time year-round and others to abandon observance of the spring time change.

The Utah Legislature has advanced a bill to the governor’s desk on the issue. Nine states (California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wyoming) have bills on the topic halfway through their respective statehouses. Meanwhile, efforts in six states (Idaho, Colorado, Kansas, Mississippi, New Mexico and South Dakota) have been rejected.

Most states addressing the issue are pursuing legislation to adopt daylight saving time year-round. There are efforts in six states to stay on standard time throughout the year. None of these bills in Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Vermont have advanced from committee.

Utah nears approval

One year ago, Utah state lawmakers approved a resolution encouraging Congress to act on the issue. This year’s legislation expresses the state’s intent to get rid of time changes.

The state Legislature has voted to advance a bill to the governor’s desk to keep the state on daylight saving time year-round.

SB59 includes a provision that the state would not make the switch – assuming the feds give states permission – unless four other Western states also make the change. Oregon and Washington have already taken action on the issue. California is one chamber vote away from doing the same.

Utah state Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful, said during House floor discussion the provision linking Utah with other states “acknowledges that people are rightfully nervous about being out of sync with their neighboring states.”

Here is a link to the floor discussion.

 

In sync

Concern about being out of sync in time recognition with adjacent states is covered in multiple pieces of legislation around the country.

An Idaho bill that is one House vote away from heading to the governor’s desk would move the portion of the state on Pacific Time to DST throughout the year.

The bill, S1267, affecting northern Idaho includes a requirement for Washington state to do the same. The Evergreen State has already acted on the issue.

Similarly in Wyoming, a House-approved bill would switch the state to year-round observance of daylight time as long as Montana, Idaho, Utah and Colorado take the same action.

Other states with bills that would not make a change in time recognition without other states doing the same are Connecticut, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska and New York.

Leave it up to voters

Legislation in two states is noncommittal to the recognition of time within their borders. The bills would leave it up to voters which way to go on the issue.

The Georgia Senate voted unanimously on Monday to approve a bill adding a nonbinding referendum question to the November ballot. The question would ask voters whether they want to switch to year-round daylight time, stay on standard time throughout the year, or continue with the current time changes.

SB351 awaits further consideration in a House committee.

In South Carolina, H4658 calls for a public vote to decide whether the state should pursue with the U.S. DOT permission to observe daylight time year-round.

Bipartisan effort calls 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 is a bipartisan effort with a dozen co-sponsors. An identical House bill has 11 co-sponsors from both parties.

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

More state trends

Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, keeps track of many trends among statehouses across the U.S. Here are some other articles by him.

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.