OLYMPIA — As daylight saving time is set to take effect in most of the U.S. this weekend, the Washington House passed a measure Saturday that would make those later sunsets permanent in the state all year — if Congress allows it.
The measure passed the chamber on an 89-7 vote and now heads to the Senate, which has its own bill on the topic. The vote comes as more than two dozen states are considering measures to avoid the twice-yearly clock change.
Both the Senate and House measures would only take effect if Congress passes legislation allowing states to observe daylight saving time year-round. Currently, it is observed from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November.
Democratic Rep. Marcus Riccelli of Spokane cited safety and health benefits among the reasons he sponsored the measure. “It’s time to hashtag ditch the switch, bring the light and put Washington at the forefront of this movement,” he said during debate before the vote.
At least 26 states are considering legislation related to the practice of changing clocks twice a year, including the three West Coast states, according the National Conference of State Legislatures.
That’s the most number of states with bills on the issue since the group started tracking the topic five years ago, said Jim Reed, who has been following daylight saving bills for the conference.
Florida passed a similarly conditional measure last year. This past week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, both of Florida, introduced measures to make daylight saving time permanent nationwide. In November, California voters passed a ballot measure to permit the state Legislature to establish daylight saving time year-round if federal law changes. A bill was introduced there a month after the election.
While federal law allows states to opt into standard time permanently — which Hawaii and Arizona have done — the reverse is prohibited and requires Congressional action.
Reed said while about half the states are seeking to move to permanent daylight saving time, like Washington and California, about half have bills to adopt permanent standard time. Oregon is considering measures for both approaches.
On Thursday, British Columbia Premier John Horgan sent a letter to the governors of Washington, Oregon and California about bills each of the states are considering, writing that “a change in any of these jurisdictions in our time zone would have significant impacts on British Columbia.”
“It makes sense to me that we move in unison on this matter,” he wrote, and asked for each state to provide an update on where they stood. He said that while there were no imminent changes planned in British Columbia, “we are closely following developments on the West Coast of the U.S.”
Democratic Rep. Zack Hudgins of Tukwila said after the vote that he was among those opposed because he didn’t see the point of the Legislature passing a bill that is ultimately dependent on what Congress does.
“I love late sunsets too, but I think this is Congress’ deal,” he said.