California lawmakers look at putting an end to time changes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 7/7/2016

California state lawmakers are reviewing legislation that could result in doing away with time changes recognized in the state for nearly seven decades.

The first bill could make the Golden State the third state along with Arizona and Hawaii not to observe daylight saving time. Specifically, AB385 would place on the statewide ballot a question about whether to discontinue the state’s recognition of daylight saving time and instead observe year-round standard time.

States must get federal permission to extend daylight saving time year-round.

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. This fall, the return to standard time is set to take effect on Oct. 31.

In 1949, California voters approved a proposition to adopt daylight saving time in the spring and summer months. Advocates touted the time change as a way to save fuel as people would use less energy in the evening.

Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, said in present day the fuel and electricity savings of the time switch really do not materialize.

“Daylight saving time is an institution that has been in place largely without question for more than half a century,” Chu said in prepared remarks. “I think we owe it to the general public to be given the opportunity to decide for themselves whether or not it ought to be continued.”

The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee voted 9-2 to advance the ballot bill. AB385 awaits an Aug. 1 hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee. If approved there, it would advance to the Senate floor.

If approved by the full Senate the bill would head back to the Assembly for final approval before moving to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

An alternative effort would urge the U.S. Congress to allow states to decide on the observance of daylight saving time.

California state Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear Lake, says the 20th century energy reduction tool can be expanded to meet 21st century energy shortages.

Obernolte refers to a 2008 federal Department of Energy report that concluded extended DST saves the U.S. approximately 0.5 percent energy each day it is used.

Supporters of observing one time throughout the year say beneficiaries would include farmers, schoolchildren and families. They also say there are health impacts with changing clocks. They site increased rates of heart attacks, suicide and traffic wrecks in the spring.

Critics of doing away with time changes, however, claim that farmers need the extra daylight in the morning. They also say that kids walking to school, or waiting for the bus, during the winter months most likely would be out in the dark.

AJR28 is awaiting a Senate floor vote. If approved, it would move back to the Assembly for approval of changes before advancing to the governor’s desk.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California, click here.

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