Falling back and springing forward remain the law of the land, which means an extra hour to snooze Nov. 6.
But there has been some movement this year to address the long-simmering dissatisfaction over changing clocks between standard time and daylight saving time twice every year. Because federal law does not currently allow full-time DST, Congress would have to act before states could adopt it year-round, as preferred by the 19 states that have so far passed such legislation.
Momentary hope for those fed up with the twice-yearly, clock-resetting ritual came with U.S. Senate passage of the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 (SB 623) on March 15, arranged to coincide with the time change. The bipartisan bill would make daylight saving time the permanent standard time, effective Nov. 5, 2023.
A significant impetus for senators who supported the bill was the activity of state legislatures in the lead-up to its passage. Sen. Patti Murray (D-Wash.), who backed the measure, said, “In California, Oregon, Idaho and my home state of Washington, we have all passed laws to adopt permanent daylight saving time as soon as Congress acts. So many other states are on the same page. These states need us to take action at the federal level.”
The Senate was alone, however, in acting on the daylight saving question, since approvals by the House of Representatives and the president are not expected during this session of Congress. The House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees time change policies, met on March 9 to hear a variety of perspectives on the topic.
The committee chair, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) told the Washington Post, “There isn’t a consensus, in my opinion, in the House or even generally at this point, about whether we should have standard versus daylight saving as the permanent time. Immediately after the Senate passed the bill, I had members come up to me on the floor and say, ‘Oh, don’t do that. I want the standard time.’”
Since March, there’s been no movement on the House version of the Sunshine Protection Act (HR 69).
One outcome of the House committee hearing was a request to the U.S. Department of Transportation for an evaluation and analysis about the effects of daylight saving time.
State legislatures, by contrast, have been attentive to the topic, considering more than 450 bills or resolutions in the last eight years. Since 2018, 19 states by bill or resolution have acted to provide for year-round daylight saving time in their states, if Congress were to allow such a change, and in some cases, if surrounding states enact the same legislation. Two states—Arizona and Hawaii—and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands observe permanent standard time as allowed by current federal law.
At least 29 states introduced 75 DST measures during the 2022 legislative session. All but three failed or are still pending.
The year’s most significant action was the enactment in Colorado of Daylight Saving Time Year Round, making the state the 19th to favor year-round DST. The bill’s success, after a 30-year effort to end clock-switching, was attributed in large part to “longtime opponents from the skiing and tourism industries going neutral on the bill with the amendment that four other states in the Mountain Time Zone adopt permanent daylight saving time before Colorado’s change can take effect,” according to Colorado Politics. The measure would level the playing field with ski areas in nearby states, since all would be subject to the same start times.
Supporters of permanent daylight saving time in Colorado say it would give people more sunlit hours to be outdoors, thereby increasing mental and physical health. Plus, spending at local shops and restaurants would increase.
Those opposing the bill expressed concern over school bus rides and commuting to work in the dark.
For extensive background on state legislation, the history of DST and perspectives on both sides of the issue, visit NCSL’s Daylight Saving Time | State Legislation page.
Jim Reed directs the NCSL Environment, Energy and Transportation Program.