Washington state may adopt daylight saving time year-round

A sailboat sits on the water next to Boulevard Park during sunset on March 31, 2019. // Photo by Oliver Hamlin

By Colton Rasanen

Twice a year we must figure out how to work our clocks. The incessant button-pushing in the car and on appliances, or the twisting gears of a wall clock, so the time can match up with the 47 other states that also spring forward and fall back every year, may be over.

According to Washington State Sen. Sam Hunt, most people are tired of turning their clocks forward and backward twice a year.

“Research shows that the human body does not, in many cases, react well to time changes,” Hunt said in an email.

On April 16, a bill concerning the adoption of a year-long daylight saving time passed in the state Senate by a staggering 46-2 vote.

The bill must be reexamined in the House due to an amendment introduced by the committee of State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections. The first House vote was 89-7, so the likelihood that they will concur with their previous outcome is high.

Once the bill passes through the House it will go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law, according to the Washington State Legislature bill information.

The bill will also have to be approved by Congress and the president due to a federal law prohibiting states from adhering to daylight saving time permanently without their approval.

“When Congress enacted daylight savings time for the country, the law says that states can elect to stay on year around [standard] time, but congressional approval is required to go to full-time daylight saving time,” Hunt said in an email.

Due to this law, the bill must be approved by Congress while states like Arizona and Hawaii can pass legislation to stay in standard time permanently without that same congressional approval.

The introduction of this bill follows a similar proposal from Oregon and an initiative backed by California voters in the past year. It is important to keep the West Coast unified in their timekeeping, according to Washington state lawmakers.

Hunt said he believes the bill will be approved at the federal level because of the support it has received thus far. He said if all three Western states pass this proposal there is a high likelihood it will be approved.

While the vote indicates immense support of the proposal in the Senate, some students at Western are indifferent or hesitant regarding the bill because of the effects that it might have once passed.

Fourth-year student Emily Haapala said she would be open to this change if the government was able to do it in an efficient way.

“Honestly, I don’t even notice the time change once my body gets used to it,” Haapala said.

Another fourth-year, Brenda Martinez, said this bill wouldn’t be a problem for her. It doesn’t really matter to her when it’s dark, whether it’s later in the morning or earlier at night, she said.

According to research by University of Washington law professor Steve Calandrillo, a permanent daylight saving time has many benefits. Calandrillo’s research suggests  more darkness in the morning is less dangerous because more people will be asleep. Currently, when it gets dark earlier, more people are adversely affected. Calandrillo’s findings indicate a permanent daylight saving time could prevent about 400 vehicular fatalities as well as potentially deterring crime.

First-year Brendan May said this proposal makes sense to him.

“I mean if it passes, schools will have to readjust their schedules to focus on this change,” May said. “No one wants to be in class at 8 a.m. and have it still be dark out.”

May said he understands daylight saving time has historically been used for farmers to have more time in the daylight to work. So, he believes this bill won’t negatively affect these farmers who rely on the light of the day to work.

Hunt said overall the bill has gotten a positive response.

“People stop me and say they are glad the legislation passed,” Hunt said in an email.

Third-year Holly Neal was blatantly annoyed at the mention of this bill. She laughed and rolled her eyes once she heard the implications of the bill.

Neal said she agrees with the main arguments against this bill. She said it would be unsafe for children who would have to stand in the dark to wait for their bus.

Neal doesn’t think it’s likely schools would change their schedules to rectify the situation.

“If the senators and representatives can find a way to address these issues within the bill then I would support it wholeheartedly,” Neal said. “That is, if the reason for change isn’t solely due to people not wanting to change their clocks.”

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