The Legislature did pass a law in 2019 — and Gov. Jay Inslee signed it — to put Washington on permanent daylight saving time. But that was only the start of a process that winds through the other Washington, where Congress must pass a federal law allowing states not to switch back to standard time.
As she has since 2019, Sen. Patty Murray is a co-sponsor of the “Sunshine Protection Act,” which is sponsored by Florida Republican Marco Rubio and has an unusual collection of some of the Senate’s most liberal and most conservative members.
Clock Change Trivia No. 1: A state can stay on standard time year-round, but it cannot stay on daylight saving time, because … well, no one has a good answer for that, other than it’s the law. The Sunshine Protection Act passed the Senate last year, but a similarly named bill introduced in the House didn’t even get a hearing in its assigned subcommittee.
Despite the catchy bill title, not moving the clock will not protect any sunshine, which will continue to fall on the Earth in the same fashion as now. The title may be inspired by the annoying habit of television talking heads to describe the switch as “gaining” an hour of sunshine or “losing” one.
It brings to mind something a former colleague used to relate about his grandfather’s likening daylight saving time to “cutting a foot off one end of a blanket and sewing it on to the other end to give him a bigger blanket.”
As people who work the graveyard shift or some early morning shifts can tell you, the former results in them losing an hour of noticeable daylight in the spring and the latter in gaining an hour of noticeable sunlight in the fall.
Those with a view of the eastern horizon will have to get up an hour earlier to catch a sunrise, which can be as spectacular as a sunset.
Clock Change Trivia No. 2: Daylight saving time covers about seven months, while standard time covers only about five months, so daylight time is arguably more of a “standard” than standard time.
This natural diminution of sunlight due to the orbit of a planet tilted on its axis has some in Seattle moaning about “The Big Dark.” It’s a time when daylight hours are so short that many day-shift workers go to and from the job in the dark. (To be honest, some Seattleites have been bemoaning The Big Dark since sometime in late July when sunset moved below 8 p.m., but they’re probably the ones that complain about the temperature of the foam in their latte or a taproom that doesn’t have more than a half-dozen IPA options.)
While the darker days are somewhat a function of the rainy weather that accompanies the winter months, the clock change does exacerbate that shift, at least in the short run. Instead of losing a few minutes between sunrise and sunset each day, most people feel they lose an hour in one day.
Considering that the sun sets about a half-hour earlier in Spokane this time of year, Eastern Washington residents might be somewhat dismissive of West Side kvetching about The Big Dark.
But for anyone who feels cheated out of a chunk of sunlight this week, there is an easy way to compensate.
Get up an hour earlier tomorrow. You’ll experience almost the same amount of daylight that you had last week, give or take about 5 minutes.