Daylight saving time running out of time?

You know the drill. It's spring forward on March 10.

Daylight saving time: Don’t forget to spring forward at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 10, 2019. It may be the last time that reminder needs to be sounded in California.

Californians early Sunday will join most of the nation in the yearly ritual of switching their clocks an hour ahead for daylight saving time. Will they be allowed to keep them that way?

Last November, Californians made clear they are tired of changing their clocks and want to keep their long sunny afternoons at the expense of morning darkness. Nearly 60 percent of voters approved a ballot measure aimed at making daylight saving time year-round instead of only from early March to early November.

Proposition 7, which voters approved in November, merely allows the state Legislature to change the daylight saving time period. But the change would have to conform with federal law, which currently doesn’t allow it.

In order for this to actually be put in place, California legislature has to now approve it by a two-thirds vote, and then Congress would have to allow the deviation.

To take the next step, Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, the November ballot measure’s sponsor, has introduced a bill — AB 7 — with bipartisan support from Assembly members Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear Lake, to secure the Legislature’s approval.

The majority of Arizona is on permanent standard time, and year-round DST is followed by Hawaii and the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Minor Outlying Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

Why’s and why nots

“The voters have spoken and they are telling lawmakers that spring forward and fall back should be eliminated,” Chu said in introducing the bill in December. If approved by a two-thirds vote and signed by the governor, the bill would make the next switch to daylight saving time permanent. It is expected to be scheduled for a committee hearing later this month.

“We’re going to try to push it through as soon as possible,” said Annie Pham, Chu’s chief of staff. “If it passes and if the feds allow us to do it, we’ll just spring forward one year and just stay there.”

Proponents for the measure argued that shifting to year-round DST would allow for more sunlight during the winter and encourage people to stay out later, potentially infusing revenue to local businesses. Studies were also cited that claim that switching clocks had the effect of increasing instances of heart attacks and the potential for workplace injury (mostly as a result of the loss of sleep).

“We started this practice to conserve energy during wartime,” said California state representative Kansen Chu, “but studies show that this is no longer the case. We are no longer saving energy, and studies have shown this practice increases risk of heart attacks, traffic accidents and crimes. It is time that we as a state reconsider whether this is still beneficial to our residents.”

Several studies back up the toll DST has on our bodies from losing that hour of time. In 2014, the American College of Cardiologysaid data showed a “25 percent jump in the number of heart attacks occurring the Monday after we ‘spring forward’ compared to other Mondays during the year.” Likewise, a separate study in 2015 said this interruption of circadian rhythm also increased the number of stroke hospitalizations the first two days after DST’s “spring forward.”

Then there’s Congress, which operates on a time zone often described as glacial.

California’s not the only sunbelt state interested in keeping its afternoons as sunny as possible — Florida lawmakers, with public support, last year overwhelmingly passed legislation to make daylight saving time year-round in the Sunshine State.

Bills introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, asked Congress to approve the change, either in Florida alone or across the country. His bills died in committee. But Rubio reintroduced legislation March 6.

Running on daylight saving time

Clock tower at San Elijo Hills/File

Daylight saving time originated as an energy saving measure during World War I. But advocates like Chu and Rubio point to other benefits, arguing it reduces crime and traffic collisions and improves the economy and personal health by promoting exercise and eliminating the stress of the time change.

“Studies have shown many benefits of a year-round Daylight Saving Time, which is why Florida’s legislature overwhelmingly voted to make it permanent last year,” Rubio said. “Reflecting the will of the State of Florida, I’m proud to reintroduce this bill to make daylight saving time permanent nationally.”

The United States first instituted twice-yearly clock changes during World War I hoping to conserve fuel. California adopted the “fall back, spring forward” practice in 1949 when the state passed the Daylight Saving Time Act. But now, proponents of permanent daylight saving time say, after 70 years, it’s time to reconsider the policy.

In a fact sheet about his policy proposal, Chu cited research showing an extra hour of daylight in the evening hours would benefit businesses. And each year when clocks spring forward, he said the research shows medical emergencies, traffic accidents and household electricity consumption all increase.

As The Verge’s Angela Chen argued earlier this year, perpetual DST saves us from these potential health issues, but the main advantage is the increased quality of life that comes from having darkness in the morning, versus darkness in the early evening.

“For most people, evenings are when we unwind and see friends or exercise, and early darkness makes this far less appealing,” says Chen. “Meeting a friend for a 7PM meal in pitch-darkness is unpleasant.” The Verge’s Liz Lopatto is also on team perma-DST with a less subtle message of “Daylight saving time is hot garbage.”

Europe recently polled its citizens on whether to scrap daylight saving time: 4.6 million people responded, with 84 percent in favor of abolishing it. The measure still has to be approved by the European Parliament, and then individual member states would have the choice to opt out.

The United States first instituted twice-yearly clock changes during World War I hoping to conserve fuel. California adopted the “fall back, spring forward” practice in 1949 when the state passed the Daylight Saving Time Act. But now, proponents of permanent daylight saving time say, after 70 years, it’s time to reconsider the policy.

In a fact sheet about his policy proposal, Chu cited research showing an extra hour of daylight in the evening hours would benefit businesses. And each year when clocks spring forward, he said the research shows medical emergencies, traffic accidents and household electricity consumption all increase.

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