California bill could make daylight saving time permanent

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Friday, August 11, 2017

Most of the United States follows the annual rituals to change clocks forward in the spring and backward in the fall. California, however, could soon be exempted from the changes.

One bill halfway through the statehouse in Sacramento seeks to drop a requirement for the twice-annual time changes.

As approved by the full Assembly, the bill called for eliminating the recognition of daylight saving time throughout the state. Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, later accepted a Senate committee amendment to his bill to instead keep the state on daylight saving time year-round.

California voters are required to approve any revisions to the state’s time-change rule because of a 1949 public vote to institute daylight saving time throughout the state. The nearly 70-year-old state law predates the U.S. Uniform Time Act of 1966.

Chu’s bill, AB807, would allow voters to decide whether to eliminate the 1949 state law. If approved at the ballot, legislators would then be required to vote by a two-thirds margin to petition the U.S. Congress to keep California on daylight saving time throughout the year.

The 1966 federal law permits states to exempt themselves from springing forward their clocks. Arizona and Hawaii are the lone states to take advantage of the option. States interested in keeping their clocks sprung forward, however, must get authorization from the feds. California would be the first state to take the step.

The wheels have already been put into motion to make the change. One year ago, the California Legislature approved a resolution to urge Congress to allow states to decide whether to establish year-round daylight saving time.

Advocates for recognizing daylight saving time all year say it would dramatically improve public health. They cite studies that have shown switching clocks increases the occurrence rates of such events as heart attacks, strokes and traffic wrecks.

In addition, Chu said during a recent hearing on his bill that year-round daylight saving time offers societal and economic benefits.

Critics of AB807 say they do not want to limit the state to deciding whether to keep daylight saving time year-round. They also want the option to keep the state on year-round standard time.

A bill analysis prepared in the California Senate reads that the Legislature would need to consider the implications of daylight saving time as it relates to uniformity with three bordering states and the country of Mexico.

“The constant movement of people and goods across those borders requires coordination,” the analysis reads.

Chu’s bill awaits consideration on the Senate floor. If endorsed there, it would move back to the Assembly for approval of changes before it could advance to the governor’s desk.

Other legislative activities of interest for California are available.

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