Thursday, December 8, 2022
Dec. 8, 2022

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Bill would end daylight saving time in Washington

The Columbian

OLYMPIA — The ritual of springing forward and falling back — and spending days (or longer) catching up on adjusting every clock in the home — is being questioned by lawmakers who would like to see it come to an end.

Some are considering a renewed effort to put the state in line with Hawaii and Arizona, the only two states that have exercised their privilege to stay on standard time all year long.

“What I’m suggesting is that we save time by simplifying our lives,” state Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe, told a House committee Tuesday.

She said the bill to drop daylight saving time would reduce heart attacks, car wrecks and work accidents found to increase with the sleep-schedule disruptions. Farmers she checked with already run their combines at night using aircraft-scale headlights, and dairy cattle care about the sun, not the time on the clock face.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have the Independence Day fireworks start before 10 p.m.?” she said to the House State Government Committee.

Scott’s bill — like a companion bill in the Senate — would overturn a 1960 ballot initiative in which 51.7 percent of voters made Washington the 15th state with daylight saving time. The initiative promised “154 more hours of daylight each year” in the official state voters pamphlet published by the Secretary of State, and it gave Washington Pacific Daylight Time from April through September.

Before 1960, daylight time had been instituted nationally during each World War, only to be repealed in peacetime. Incremental changes since then, via Congress, have expanded daylight time to run from the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November.

Five other states have pending legislation to eliminate daylight saving time, including Oregon, where a bill would give voters a fall referendum this year on daylight time. If the Oregon voters were to decide against daylight time, it would be abandoned in 2021 — or earlier, if Washington or California also stopped changing the clocks twice a year. Globally, Asia, Australia and Africa mostly don’t have daylight time, and Europe largely uses it.

The bill to drop daylight time may face an uphill battle to get to a House floor vote. State Government Committee chair Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, is a man who enjoys late summer sunsets, as he said several times Tuesday, and he helped defeat a similar bill that never emerged from the same committee in 2011. Hunt said after Tuesday’s hearing he was still against leaving daylight time.

“With other states keeping it, it would create, I think, additional disruption,” he said.

Opposition to similar measures in other states has come from recreational business interests. The Golf Association for Utah told state officials there last year researching a possible change that unplayed rounds due to earlier nightfall would result in $24 million in losses. Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, who sponsored the 2011 bill against daylight time, said he had heard opposition from that sector.

“The idea that golf courses are determining when I get up for the day ticks me off,” Dunshee said.

A companion version of Scott’s bill in the Senate has not yet received a hearing. A different House bill, meanwhile, would have the state send a nonbinding request to the federal government for the authority to spend the entire year on daylight time; currently, any state can be all-standard time, but no state can go the other way. Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, said his constituents told him they’d like an extra hour of afternoon light in the winter, and he agreed.

Schmick, who is a farmer, noted that Washington’s winter sunrise comes so late that livestock already get their morning feeds before dawn, but herds could benefit from pushing winter sunsets an hour later.

“At least you’d be feeding them one time in the daylight,” Schmick said.