By Jim Reed
In the last three years, a significant trend has emerged as nine states have enacted legislation to provide for year-round daylight saving time (DST)—if Congress were to allow such a change by amending the Uniform Time Act of 1966. States are allowed to change to year-round standard time under current federal law.
South Carolina and Utah (pending approval by the governor) passed legislation this year to observe DST all year long and exempt the state from standard time.
The debate over the biannual clock-changing exercise took place in 40 state legislatures last year and is a topic of consideration this year in 32 states, where at least 77 bills and resolutions are under review. Two-thirds of the pending bills advocate for year-round DST, while the remainder favor staying on standard time.
The nine states that enacted legislation for year-round DST are Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Oregon, Tennessee, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. California voters authorized such a change in 2018, but legislative action is still pending. Nevada passed a non-binding resolution in 2015 to do so as well.
Cognizant of the patchwork of time zones that could be created if states independently made such a change, several states have included clauses to act only if surrounding states do the same.
For example, the Utah legislation contains a contingent effective date by specifying that at least four other western states (e.g., Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington or Wyoming) must also enact similar legislation. A Senate bill pending in New Mexico would create the Interstate-Interjurisdiction Mountain Time Zone Permanent Daylight-Saving Time Compact.
At the federal level, the Sunshine Protection Act (SB 1601) is pending—it would make daylight saving time permanent nationwide.
The number of states considering legislation has increased in recent years. It appears this is due to concerted efforts on the web and social media to influence lawmakers to stop the clock-changing. In addition, many of the legislators who sponsor bills on the topic cite surveys of constituents who dislike the time-switching exercise for any number of reasons. Finally, a plethora of news articles on the topic is written every year, surging in March and November, that continue the discussion of this very popular topic.
NCSL held a session on the trend in states to address the DST issue at its Capitol Forum last December and will do so again at the Legislative Summit, Aug. 10-13 in Indianapolis.
Jim Reed directs the Environment, Energy and Transportation Program at NCSL.