Daylight saving time debated in 30 states

March 11, 2024

Keith Goble


As much of the nation made the switch over the weekend to daylight saving time, the annual practice of time changes continues to be challenged at statehouses. A congressional pursuit also would do away with the practice of changing clocks in the spring and fall.

Elected officials around the country and in Washington, D.C., representing both sides of the aisle have attached their names to legislation to abandon observance of twice-annual time changes. Among the reasons given by government officials for taking action on the issue is traffic safety.

Outdated tradition?

Daylight saving time was observed in the United States for a period during both World Wars. In 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act that made biannual time changes the norm.

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 oversees the nation’s time zones. The agency states that daylight time is important for many modes of transportation.

Critics counter the time changes may have been useful for some during a bygone era but that they currently provide little if any real benefit. Among the factors cited for doing away with time changes are vehicle crashes.

Others argue that unique circumstances exist across the country that make uniform observance of time zones impractical. One example is a dramatic shift that would occur in summertime light on the West Coast if permanent standard time were implemented. The Oregonian reports that Portland would see 97 days of sunrises before 5 a.m.

State legislatures pursue change

For much of the past decade, elected officials across the country annually have at least discussed legislation to end the observance of time changes. During that time, 19 states have acted on the issue.

Federal law permits a state to exempt itself from observing daylight 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 time throughout the year without signing off on it. Instead, Congress must grant individual states the privilege.

In 2018, Florida lawmakers were the first to act on the issue when they adopted year-round daylight time with federal approval. Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming have since followed suit.

Despite the widespread interest in this transition, states continue to await Congressional authorization. In 2015, the Nevada Senate adopted a resolution encouraging the feds to enact legislation allowing all states to make the change. Legislatures in Ohio, Oregon and Utah have since done the same.

2024 legislation

So far this year, more than 60 measures in at least 30 states have been offered on the topic.

Legislative efforts from Alaska to New Hampshire are divided between states with legislation seeking to keep daylight time year-round and others seeking to abandon observance of the spring time change. Some states have legislation on both sides of the issue.

Most states that continue to address the issue are pursuing legislation to stay on standard time throughout the year. These are Alaska, California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

States with legislation to stay on daylight time year-round are Alaska, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont and Virginia.

Bills in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania would convert each state to a newly created Atlantic Standard Time all year. As a result, the states would eliminate daylight time.

The New York bill sponsor noted its approach would allow for the creation of Atlantic Standard Time through a regulatory process by the U.S. DOT instead of requiring an act of Congress.

Resolutions in Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania call on Congress to allow states to adopt permanent daylight time.

Failed pursuits

Efforts in five statehouses failed to advance this year.

Failed bills in Nebraska and Virginia called for observing daylight time all year. The same fate befell efforts to stay on standard time in Georgia, Maine and West Virginia.

In sync

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

Bills to adopt yearlong daylight time as long as at least one adjacent state takes the same action are in the following statehouses: Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma and Vermont.

Legislation in Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont would do away with daylight time once multiple neighboring states do the same.

The Oregon Senate voted 16-14 last week to advance a bill to eliminate observance of daylight time if California and Washington do the same.

Bill supporters said it is important to keep the entire West Coast on the same clock.

Critics said it would be a better option for Oregon to stay on daylight time.

Sen. Aaron Woods, D-Wilsonville, said there are multiple benefits to extending daylight time into the evening, including a reduction in traffic accidents.

“Oregon’s unique geographical position makes the benefits of daylight saving time especially pronounced. Our latitude means that a shift in daylight hours can have a significant impact on our daily lives,” Woods said during floor debate.

The bill, SB1548, has moved to a House committee.

Bipartisan effort calls for federal action

In Congress, legislation in the House and Senate calls for doing away with twice-annual time changes.

The Sunshine Protection Act would make daylight time permanent throughout the nation.

The U.S. Senate approved the action in 2022. House lawmakers, however, killed the bill after lawmakers raised multiple concerns about the effect the pursuit would have on tourism and large farming communities. Others said additional research is needed or that there are more important issues to address.

In previous Congressional testimony, lawmakers were told that nearly three-quarters of all Americans want to do away with time changes. The large majority of Americans wanting to keep clocks the same prefer staying on daylight time.

Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s office said there are multiple potential effects of making daylight time permanent. The leading effect listed is a reduction in vehicle crashes and vehicle incidents involving pedestrians.

Additionally, the change is touted to reduce the number of vehicle collisions with wildlife by 8% to 11% by “shifting normal traffic patterns to an hour off from nocturnal wildlife’s behavior.” LL

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