Nine states have taken step to stay on daylight saving time
April 15, 2020
As the nation focuses on more pressing issues, work ongoing at statehouses across the country addresses whether to continue the observance of daylight saving time. 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.
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.
One Ohio state lawmaker has referred to changing between standard and daylight saving as “government-induced biannual jetlag.”
Among the factors cited across the country for doing away with time changes is vehicle crashes.
Recent legislative action on daylight saving time
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 have continued the conversation.
Federal law permits a state to exempt itself from observing DST. 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. Instead, Congress must sign-off on granting states the privilege.
Florida lawmakers acted in 2018 to adopt year-round DST. Delaware, Maine, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington state have since followed suit in the past year. Despite their interest in making the change, the states must wait for Congress to take action.
Additionally, the Nevada Senate adopted a resolution in 2015 to encourage the feds to take action on the issue. In the past year, legislatures in Arkansas, Oregon and Utah have done the same.
Three states take action in 2020
Concern about being out of sync in time recognition with adjacent states is covered in multiple pieces of legislation signed into law in recent weeks.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little has signed into law a bill to move the portion of the state on Pacific Time to DST throughout the year.
S1267 affects 10 counties in northern Idaho. A provision included in the law requires Idaho to take action once Washington state adopts daylight time year-round. The Evergreen State has already acted on the issue.
Similarly in Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon put his signature on a bill to switch the state to year-round observance of daylight time.
HB44 includes a requirement that at least four Western states must also adopt the change before Wyoming can act. The Western states identified in the legislation are Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
As of mid-April, the states of Idaho and Utah are the only states singled out in the legislation to take the step to adopt daylight time throughout the year.
One year ago, Utah state lawmakers approved a resolution encouraging Congress to act on the issue. Legislators followed up last year’s version with passage of legislation to expresses the state’s intent to get rid of time changes.
Gov. Gary Herbert has signed into law a bill to keep the state on daylight time year-round.
SB59 includes a provision that the state will not make the switch – assuming the feds give states permission – unless four other Western states also make the change. The Western states identified in the legislation are Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
So far, three of the above mentioned states have acted. In addition to Utah and Wyoming this year, Washington previously has acted to adopt year-round observance of DST. 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.”
Legislation on the move
Despite slowdowns and stoppages at statehouses around the country due to coronavirus, multiple states have bills that remain active to keep DST year-round.
The Mississippi House voted unanimously to advance a bill to remain permanently on daylight time. HB230 awaits further consideration in the Senate once legislators return from an “indefinite suspension” due to COVID-19 concerns.
Across the state line in Alabama, a House bill also addresses the topic. HB215 would keep the state on daylight time.
House lawmakers have approved the bill on a 103-2 vote. It awaits assignment to committee in the Senate upon the Legislature’s scheduled return on April 28.
Five more states (California, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio) also have bills on the topic halfway through their respective statehouses.
Leave DST 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 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.
Both bills are in limbo as their legislatures have adjourned until a future date.
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.
Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2019
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.