Debate over time change: CA lawmakers mull options on keeping, ending daylight saving time

California

Three years after California voters approved a ballot initiative to take the first steps toward staying on daylight saving time the entire year, the state is preparing to “fall back” to standard time this weekend like nearly all of the U.S.

And as the debate over the seasonal time change continues, a state lawmaker says all options are still on the table in the California Legislature — even a possible move to year-round standard time.

“It comes down to something really simple, anyone can try it at home or ask their friends, ‘Do you want year-round daylight savings time or do you want to get rid of daylight savings time?'” said Asm. Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego.

Gonzalez is one of the co-sponsors of Proposition 7, which was passed in 2018 with the support of nearly 60% of voters.

The ballot measure effectively authorized the California Legislature to end the seasonal time changes with a two-thirds vote, providing they received the approval of the federal government.

But so far, efforts to pass legislation on the issue have stalled at both the state and federal levels. The delay has given each side of the time change debate to argue the merits of their position.

“You have sleep experts, we have some medical professionals who think we really need to go to standard time year-round,” Gonzalez said. “Then you have a lot of parents and people who like evening activities who really want daylight saving time year-round. … we haven’t been able to get legislators to agree on one or the other because there are these long-held preferences.”

Inaction by Congress, however, means California and other states looking to end the time change currently aren’t allowed to stay on daylight saving time throughout the year.

That’s due to the Uniform Time Act of 1966, which stipulates states can’t unilaterally act on DST without federal approval.

However, the law permits states to remain on daylight standard time year round, which is why Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t participate in the twice yearly clock changes.

“The only thing we could do immediately to change it is by two-thirds vote decide to go to standard time year-round,” Gonzalez said, adding, “I just haven’t seen us have the votes to do that.”

While many bemoan having to change all of their clocks twice a year, there still doesn’t appear to be a nationwide consensus on how to deal with the matter.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Friday demonstrated the divide, finding that the vast majority of respondents would like to see the time change ended. Of those polled, 43% said they wanted the U.S. to stay on standard time all year, compared to 32% who would prefer a permanent change to daylight saving.

Meanwhile, a quarter of respondents signaled that they don’t mind a mixture of both each year.

As the debate goes on, Californians are once again preparing to “fall back” this weekend after nearly eight months of daylight saving time.

Standard time will resume at 2 a.m. Sunday, meaning one more hour of daylight in the morning — but an earlier sunset each night.

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