, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, February 07, 2018
The seemingly timeless pursuit in statehouses to change the observance of daylight saving time continues.
States reviewing legislation to exempt them from time changes stretch from Washington to Maine. Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the lone states not to take part in time changes.
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. Advocates add the extra daylight in the morning is beneficial for school children and farmers.
Critics counter the time changes may have been useful for some during a bygone era but it now provides little if any real benefit.
In most cases across the country state lawmakers are pursuing rule changes that would permit their states to stick with the spring time change year-round.
One Florida bill would adopt DST as the standard time all year long. The Legislature would also submit a request to the U.S. DOT to re-designate portions of the Florida panhandle that lie within the Central Time Zone to be in the Eastern Time Zone. If approved by the Legislature, the U.S. DOT and Congress would need to act for the change to become law.
A second bill at the statehouse reads that if Congress permits states to observe year-round DST, then Florida would make the change.
A resolution in the Illinois General Assembly calls on Congress to enact permanent DST. The measure states the change would “minimize confusion and disruption to people’s lives, wellness, transportation and commerce.”
Efforts to recognize DST year-round are also under review in Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Two failed efforts in Mississippi and South Dakota also called for observing DST year-round. The South Dakota bill included a requirement that the six bordering states must also set their clocks at the same time. The bill died on the state Senate floor as a result of a tie vote for passage, effectively killing it.
A handful of states, however, have legislation that would go the other way on the time change issue.
A Virginia bill would exempt the state from observing DST. Instead, the state would stay on Eastern Standard Time year-round.
Alabama and Vermont legislators could also consider bills to exempt their states from the spring time change.
The Alabama bill would have voters make the final decision on the issue.
The Vermont version would establish a legislative study committee to examine the feasibility of ending the observance of DST.
In addition, an effort underway in Kansas would authorize the state to ignore time changes. The bill reads the proposed change “shall not affect the standard time established by United States law governing the movements of common carriers engaged in interstate commerce.”
A proposal in the state of Washington would eliminate DST and stick with Pacific Time all year. The state Department of Commerce would also be required to regularly review how the state time zone and DST affect commerce in the state.
Legislation in Nebraska and Wyoming would exempt each state from time changes and instead stay on DST year-round.
Also in Massachusetts, a special panel created to discuss whether the state should switch to year-round DST has reached a decision. The change would effectively convert the state from Eastern Standard Time to Atlantic Standard Time.
The group released a report in recent months that recommends the state to make the switch, but only if a majority of Northeast states decide to join them.
“Any move to year-round (daylight saving time) should be regional, because acting alone would make Massachusetts a significant outlier, and could disrupt commerce, trade, interstate transportation and broadcasting,” the report says.
No state observes Atlantic Time. Only parts of Canada, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands observe Atlantic Time. Multiple Caribbean and South American countries also use the same time zone.
Multiple states have legislation that is carried over from their 2017 regular sessions.
Maine and New Hampshire have efforts to change the state’s time zone from Eastern Time to Atlantic Time. The legislation also would exempt the states from the twice-annual time changes.
Elsewhere, one Michigan bill calls for petitioning the U.S. DOT to include the entire state within the Eastern Time zone and abandon time changes. A portion of the Upper Peninsula is in the Central Time zone.
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