Legislators in four states pursue changes to daylight saving time

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/19/2018

The recent pursuit at statehouses to end the observance of time changes is continuing as state legislators around the country are pushing for action on the issue. Among the reasons given for abandoning time switches is traffic safety.

With the backing of California voters this past November, Asemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, has introduced a bill for consideration in the coming months to do away with time changes in the state.

Voters approved a ballot question this fall authorizing the Legislature to take action to eliminate the time switch and potentially make the move to daylight saving time all year.

Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the lone states not to take part in time changes. The two states do not recognize DST. Neither do the United States’ five populated territories.

Florida earlier this year became the first state in the nation to adopt year-round DST. However, the state cannot make the shift unless Congress changes federal law.

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.

In 1949, California voters approved a proposition to conform to federal guidelines and adopt daylight saving time in the spring and summer months.

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.

Among the factors cited for doing away with time changes is vehicle crashes.

“Rates of fatal traffic wrecks significantly increase on both the Monday after the shift to DST and the Sunday of the shift to standard time,” Chu’s office said. “National data showed an increase in accidents from the average of 78.2 to 83.5 on the ‘spring forward’ Monday.”

Chu’s bill, AB7, must receive with two-thirds support in both statehouse chambers for passage. Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom must also endorse the change.

If the above steps are taken federal authorization would be the final phase necessary to make the change.

Failure to gain federal approval would not necessarily derail the state’s pursuit of a time switch. Another option for California would be to join Arizona and Hawaii on standard time year-round, which does not require congressional consent.

Officials in other states are wasting little time in pursuit of similar changes to how they recognize time.

South Carolina

Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, has filed a bill to end the practice of using DST.

His bill, S11, states that if Congress amends U.S. code to permit states to observe year-round DST it is the intent of the South Carolina Legislature for “daylight saving time to be the year-round standard time.”

A failed effort during the 2018 regular session sought to ask voters if they want to end spring forward and fall back. Approval would have required state lawmakers to request that Congress make the change nationally.

Texas

Two efforts underway in Austin call for doing away with daylight saving time.

Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, and Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, filed bills to exempt Texas from DST throughout the state.

HB49 and SB190 would keep regions of the state in the Central and Mountain time zones on standard time throughout the year.

If approved, Texas would set their clocks back one hour on Nov. 4, 2019 – the day after daylight saving time ends – and not change them thereafter.

Virginia

Delegate Richard Bell, R-Staunton, has filed a resolution calling on the Secretary of Commerce and Trade to study the effects of Virginia’s continued observance of daylight saving time. The secretary would also study the potential consequences of a decision to use either standard time or daylight saving time year-round.

Bell wrote in HJR588 that “recent studies have shown that daylight saving time does not lead to energy savings and may even lead to an average increase in energy consumption.”

He added that “additional studies have shown that participation in daylight saving time may lower productivity and increase the risk of traffic accidents.”

 

 

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