In a timely but unexpected vote, the US Senate opts for permanent DST

A rude awakening in Congress is raising hopes on the West Coast that last weekend’s switch from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time could be the second-to-last time we go through the boring ritual of time switching. ‘clock. After sitting on the sidelines for years, the US Senate on Tuesday found time to approve year-round daylight saving time starting in 2023. The measure is now before the House for further consideration. thorough.

The Washington and Oregon legislatures voted three years ago to “ditch the switch” and stick with daylight saving time permanently. The Idaho legislature followed with a vote to synchronize northern Idaho with the time it is in neighboring Washington. But the desired change didn’t take effect because Congress wouldn’t take the time to change a federal law that gets in the way. The federal Uniform Time Act of 1966 does not allow permanent daylight saving time, but states are free to follow standard time year-round.

After the most recent time change, the Senate flipped the switch for the entire country with minimal debate and a unanimous vote. If the House agrees and President Biden signs the so-called Sun Protection Act, the nation will leap forward to 2023 and never look back.

“I hope my colleagues in the House – and everyone else – can understand that no one wants to see the sun go down at 4 p.m., which it currently does in the winter for those of us on the West Coast,” Washington Democratic said. said Senator Patty Murray in an exultant speech after the vote.

Permanent daylight saving time would make winter afternoons brighter, but also means it would stay darker longer on winter mornings. Late sunrises have been a problem for some parents and sleep experts, concerned with waking students up and getting them to school safely.

Sunrises would arrive an hour later than in previous winters if the country adopted daylight saving time year-round.

Tom Banse/Northwest News Network

Last week, a key House committee chairman raised the possibility of taking action on time changes. But Democrat Frank Pallone of New Jersey did not commit to what that might be.

“I haven’t decided yet whether I support a permanent switch to daylight or standard time, but I think it’s time to stop changing clocks,” Pallone said during a House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting to hear testimony from supporters of both. options.

Spokane Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the ranking Republican on the committee, said she appreciates the arguments from pro-DST lawmakers and voters in the home state. But she said this topic should be a low priority.

“There remain many issues that this committee should prioritize before DST, such as unleashing American energy to help Ukraine and counter Russian aggression,” McMorris Rodgers said Thursday.

Steve Calandrillo, a law professor at the University of Washington, told members of Congress that shifting sunlight into the evening has many health and economic benefits. He predicted it would reduce traffic collisions and crime while promoting outdoor recreation and commerce, the latter more likely to be practiced after work than in the early morning.

In a national poll taken just before the change to standard time last November, 63% of Americans said they wanted to eliminate the ritual of changing the clock. Among those who said they would prefer to stop daylight saving time, almost twice as many wanted to stay on summer time than on winter time. This Economist/YouGov poll surveyed a representative sample of 1,500 American adults online.

One of the voices advocating for a uniform standard time is a growing West Coast-based non-profit organization named Save Standard Time. Earlier this year, its founder told a Washington State Senate panel that permanent standard time provided a superior escape from annoying time changes.

“It’s natural time defined by the sun,” said Jay Pea of ​​San Francisco. “It’s better for our sleep and our health, our safety, our endocrinology, our neurology, our cardiology, our psychology and our metabolism.”

Pea spoke as the state Senate panel considered a proposal to switch to standard time year-round until Congress authorizes permanent daylight saving time. This proposal to circumvent the deadlock in Congress never passed in the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature that just ended.

The leading sponsor of the successful 2019 bill in the Washington Legislature to adopt year-round daylight saving time has applauded federal lawmakers’ unexpected push to abolish a practice deemed obsolete and unnecessary.

“Washingtonians are ready to #DitchTheSwitch, #LockTheClock, and never fall again!” State Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane) said in a hashtag-strewn social media statement Tuesday.

In 2018-2019, Oregon, Washington, and California were at the forefront of a movement in states to pass laws or resolutions to permanently switch to daylight saving time. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 18 states were eager to go that route whenever Congress gave the go-ahead.

Arizona, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, which adopted year-round standard time decades ago, would be left alone under the provisions of the bipartisan Sun Protection Act.

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