By Jim Reed
Significant attention to clock changing occurred in state legislatures this year.
Legislators in 25 states reviewed at least 40 bills and resolutions, with about equal numbers advocating either permanent daylight saving time (DST)—which would require Congressional approval—or opting out—which states can do with a vote of the state legislature.
Six of the 40 bills/resolutions passed, 10 are still pending and the remainder failed.
Over the past five years, states are increasingly considering legislation and debating the pros and cons of stopping the twice annual time-changing exercise (coming up on Nov. 4) based on arguments related to negative health impacts, increased traffic accidents and the inconvenience of the clock-changing ritual. Currently, Hawaii and portions of Arizona and several U.S territories opt out of DST.
This year marked the first time a state actually passed legislation declaring that it would adopt DST permanently, whereas numerous prior attempts had failed.
Florida became the first state to enact legislation to permanently observe DST, pending amendment of federal law to permit such action. Also, Alabama passed a resolution calling on Congress to make DST permanent. Idaho passed a resolution to move its northern counties into the mountain time zone and exempt them from DST.
Louisiana and South Carolina created task forces to study DST versus standard time. Several bills are still pending. Last year, a Massachusetts commission endorsed going to DST year-round.
Noteworthy this year is California’s pending vote on Nov. 6, to repeal the 1949 Daylight Saving Time Act which established Pacific time in California. The vote was set up by passage of AB 807 by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on June 28.
The vote would conform the statute to current practice and allow future changes to DST by the legislature to occur with a two-thirds vote. The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Kansen Chu, intends to push for permanent daylight saving time in California should the ballot measure be approved.
Versions of DST date back to 1918 with the enactment of the Standard Time Law. The current practice was codified in 1966 with passage of the Uniform Time Act. In a related development, discussions are underway among transportation ministers of European Union countries to possibly dispense with DST by October 2019.
An Internet search produced a multitude of resources regarding time changing and daylight saving time. A couple of proposed solutions include a proposal for two time zones for the United States and a permanent calendar that would unify the world in a single time zone and a 13-month year.
Jim Reed directs the NCSL Environment, Energy and Transportation Program.