Action continues in 12 states to end time changes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/24/2019

Legislative efforts underway in Washington, D.C., and at statehouses across the country would open the door to allowing states to act on their own for time changes.

The issue has gained steam in recent years. Political figures from both sides of the aisle have expressed support to do away with the twice-annual time switch.

As a result, officials in at least 30 statehouses this year have discussed or are discussing legislation to end time changes. Among the reasons given for abandoning time switches is traffic safety.

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

In addition, Alabama and Florida acted last year to adopt year-round DST. However, the states 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.

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.

Federal action

In Congress, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., introduced the Sunshine Protection Act to make the change to recognize daylight saving time all year for the entire country.

State action

At the state level, the Washington Legislature has taken action this week to advance a bill to have Congress authorize the state’s observance of year-round Pacific Daylight Time.

House lawmakers voted 90-6 to approve an amended version of the bill that does not include a provision to send the measure to voters. Passage clears the way for the bill, HB1196, to move to the governor’s desk. The Senate already approved it on a 46-2 vote.

Across the state line in Oregon, a bill that has the backing of Gov. Kate Brown would abolish time changes to maintain DST throughout the year. The portion of the state in the Mountain Time Zone (Malheur County) would be exempted from permanent daylight time.

The Senate voted 23-4 early this month to advance the bill after removing language that would have referred to the question to voters. SB320 awaits further consideration in the House.

In addition to the necessary approval from Congress for the change to take effect in Oregon, the bill requires both Washington and California to agree to the switch.

With the backing of California voters in November 2018, Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, introduced a bill to do away with time changes in the state.

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

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

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

In Arkansas, House lawmakers have approved a resolution that calls for the state to permanently observe DST.

HR1034 does include one caveat. In addition to needing federal approval, the switch would be contingent on Arkansas’ six neighboring states also making the change.

The time change issue is getting strong consideration in the Tennessee statehouse.

The Senate State and Local Government Committee voted last week to advance a bill that calls for year-round observance of DST.

SB1100 has moved to the Senate Calendars Committee before it heads to the full Senate for a possible vote.

One Texas measure would start the process to permit voters to indicate whether the state should observe time changes.

House lawmakers voted 133-9 to advance legislation, HJR117, to amend the state’s Constitution to authorize the Legislature to place the question on statewide ballots. The resolution has moved to the Senate.

The full House could soon take up for consideration enabling legislation, HB3784, to put the time change question on upcoming fall ballots.

Legislative efforts in the Carolinas pursue the same rule change.

The North Carolina House voted 85-27 last week in support of legislation to avoid the twice-annual time change. Instead, HB350 would keep the Tar Heel State on DST all year.

The bill has moved to the Senate for further consideration.

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

The Senate unanimously approved the bill. It awaits consideration in the House Judiciary Committee.

An 83-page bill moving through the Minnesota Senate includes a paragraph to adopt DST all year. SF2227 acknowledges that Congress first must authorize the state to act.

The Senate Finance Committee voted Tuesday, April 23, to send the bill to the chamber floor.

An Ohio Senate bill, SB119, would align the state’s clocks with DST year-round.

During testimony to the Senate General Government and Agency Review Committee, Sen. Kristina Roegner, R-Hudson, said that biannual time changes have a negative effect on driving.

“We have found that biannual time changes have been shown to endanger the lives of drivers due to sleep deprivation.”

Legislative efforts underway in Delaware and New Hampshire would remove the states from Eastern Standard Time – effectively adopting yearlong DST.

The New Hampshire House has acted to approve a bill to convert the state to Atlantic Standard Time all year. HB567 contains a requirement that Maine and Massachusetts also make the change to take effect in New Hampshire. A proposed amendment to include Vermont was rejected by the New Hampshire House.

A newly introduced bill in Delaware would have the state adopt Atlantic Standard Time.

SB73 specifies that Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland must also adopt the change for Delaware to make the switch.

 

 

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