Lovers of the winter sunset, rejoice.
A bill to put Washington state permanently on daylight saving time has passed the state House of Representatives 90-6 and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk for a signature. Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, who is among the bill’s sponsors, said he’s had every indication that the governor intends to sign the bill.
Last week, the state Senate voted 46-2 to get Washington state off the twice-a-year time-change seesaw and adopt permanent daylight saving time, which we currently observe eight months of the year. Amendments to House Bill 1196 made in the Senate were accepted by the House in Tuesday morning’s vote.
“The people of Washington have said they want to #DitchTheSwitch, and passing this bill sends that message loud and clear to the other Washington,” Riccelli, wrote in a news release posted on his website.
Even with Inslee’s signature, the bill would require congressional approval to implement. Federal law allows states to permanently adopt standard time, but prohibits the year-round adoption of daylight time.
Riccelli said our state’s U.S. senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, are willing to support the conversation at the federal level.
“It’s an exciting day,” said Riccelli, who said he and other lawmakers heard from constituents who “overwhelmingly” supported the measure.
Under daylight saving time, the sun rises and sets an hour later than it does during standard time. It essentially moves an hour of daylight from the beginning of the day to the end.
The most often cited criticism of the proposal is a concern about children waiting at dark bus stops during winter mornings. Under our current system of switching back to standard time during the winter, the sun rises around 8 a.m. on Dec. 21, the day of the year with the least daylight. Under permanent daylight saving time, the sun would rise closer to 9 a.m. on that day.
The bill’s sponsors say there’s now national momentum for proposals like theirs. More than two dozen states are considering measures to cease the twice-yearly clock change.
Voters in California last year backed an initiative to adopt permanent daylight time, and legislators in Oregon, Idaho and even British Columbia are considering the same move. That’s significant, Washington lawmakers say, because the West Coast should aim to be unified in its timekeeping.
Past measures introduced in Washington and other states to do away with the time change focused on adopting permanent standard time, which proved unpopular.
What people want is that extra hour of light in the evening rather than the morning, said Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, who was among the sponsors of the Senate bill.
Supporters of the measure contend that sticking to one time zone, rather than switching back and forth, would improve health and public safety, and some safety experts agree.
Steve Calandrillo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law who has written extensively on the benefits of year-round daylight time, testified at the Senate committee this legislative session. He said studies show that permanent daylight time saves lives and reduces crime, among other benefits.
Experts in depression and sleep science say, however, it would be healthier to either keep making the twice-yearly change or adopt permanent standard time. Both those options would be more in line with our natural circadian rhythms, which are synced with morning light, said David Avery, a professor emeritus in the University of Washington School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and an expert in seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.