Time change debated in 30 states

March 12, 2021

Keith Goble

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The approach of daylight saving time on Sunday, March 14, again has legislators at statehouses around the country debating the need to continue with twice-annual time changes. Federal efforts in the U.S. House and Senate also call for ending the practice of changing clocks in the spring and fall.

Elected officials 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 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.

Recent legislative action

From 2018-20, officials in more than half of all statehouses annually have at least discussed legislation to end the observance of time changes. During that time, 14 states have acted on the issue.

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

Federal law allows 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 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, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington state and Wyoming 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. Over the past three years, legislatures in Arkansas, Oregon and Utah have done the same.

2021 legislation

Legislative efforts from Alaska to New Hampshire are divided between states with legislation to keep DST year-round and others to abandon observance of the spring time change.

In the first three months of the year, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico and North Dakota have bills on the topic halfway through their respective statehouses. Meanwhile, efforts in Virginia and Wyoming have been rejected.

Most states addressing the issue are pursuing legislation to adopt daylight saving time year-round. There are efforts in eight states to stay on standard time throughout the year. None of these bills in Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New York, Texas and Vermont have advanced from committee.

In sync

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

A Connecticut bill would convert the state to Atlantic Standard Time all year. As a result, the state would eliminate DST. The change would only be made once Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island make the change.

New Hampshire has a similar requirement for observance of Atlantic Time year-round as long as Maine and Massachusetts follow along.

Vermont legislation would keep the state on standard time once Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island make the same change.

In Minnesota, the state would adopt year-round DST after Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin do the same.

Multiple Missouri bills make a switch to yearlong daylight saving time contingent on other states taking the same action. The first bill would put the state on DST throughout the year only after 20 states adopt the rule. Another bill would require a majority of states to do the same. One other bill specifies the switch would be made when two bordering states act.

A Montana bill would adopt daylight saving time year-round once four other western states make the change.

One Nevada bill is contingent on California joining them in staying on standard time throughout the year.

Getting input from 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 House voted to approve a bill to ask voters whether to switch to year-round daylight time. A Senate bill would ask voters a non-binding question about their preference for yearlong daylight time or standard time.

Multiple Texas bills would ask voters for their preference on time recognition.

Bipartisan effort calls for federal action

In Congress, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is leading a group of Republicans and Democrats this week to introduce the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 to recognize daylight saving time all year for the entire country.

“The call to end the antiquated practice of clock changing is gaining momentum throughout the nation,” Rubio said in a written statement announcing the legislation.

Among the factors in their pursuit of the change is the benefit it would have for the economy. LL

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 recent articles by him.

TBS

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.