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Washington, Oregon watching as California votes on daylight saving time

Do we still need daylight saving time?

Learn why we change clocks twice a year in this brief history of Daylight Saving Time.
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Learn why we change clocks twice a year in this brief history of Daylight Saving Time.

Still struggling to adjust the clock on your thermostat after daylight saving time ended Sunday?

Tuesday’s election could lead to the end of the irksome “spring forward, fall back” chore.

A California ballot measure, Proposition 7, would help put the Golden State on permanent daylight saving time. If Californians approve the proposition, it could put pressure on Washington and Oregon to follow suit.

Lawmakers in both states are working on legislation to make daylight saving time permanent on the Northwest coast.

Washington Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, and Oregon State Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, are cooperating on similar bills to eliminate the time change. Both intend to to introduce legislation in a few months, though both are up for re-election Tuesday.

Honeyford previously proposed putting Washington on standard time but has shifted gears. He told the Tri-City Herald his constituents prefer daylight saving to standard time. And, he added, it makes practical sense to conform with California.

Thatcher’s office confirmed she is working with Honeyford on permanent daylight saving time legislation.

Honeyford said daylight saving time was wrongly sold to help farmers. Farmers, he noted wryly, are guided by the sun, not the clock.

He’s chiefly opposed messing with the clock twice a year.

Springing forward and falling back doesn’t save energy and leads to spikes in everything from accidents to heart attacks to bad test scores for sleep-altered students, he argued.

“It seems like all the reasons they thought it was good weren’t very good after all,” Honeyford said.

Idaho, which is split between the Pacific and Mountain time zones, is not part of the conversation.

A “yes” vote in California on Tuesday won’t become law without federal approval.

The federal Uniform Time Act gives states the option of adopting daylight saving time between March and November or remaining on standard time all year.

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California voters will vote on making daylight saving time permanent Tuesday. Washington and Oregon lawmakers are preparing legislation to follow suit. McClatchy File

But California and a growing number of states want a third option: Permanent daylight saving time, which shifts daylight to the evening hours.

Lawmakers in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee and Wyoming have entertained proposals in recent years to put their states on a permanent daylight saving time.

This spring, Florida lawmakers voted to make daylight saving time permanent.

On the heels of that vote, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced a pair of bills in Congress to amend the Uniform Time Act.

One would make daylight saving time permanent across the nation and the other would give Florida permission to proceed within its own boundaries. Rubio’s “sunshine” bills are pending in committee.

If California, the nation’s most populous state with nearly 40 million residents, opts for permanent daylight saving time this week, it would add urgency for Congress to amend the Uniform Time Act.

Arizona, Hawaii and most U.S. territories do not observe daylight saving time, remaining on standard time all year. A lawmaker in Texas wants the Lone Star State to join them. Lawmakers in South Carolina have taken up the call. So too have legislators in North Dakota.

So, where does that leave Washington?

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is monitoring the California proposition, according to his office.

Daylight saving time is not a priority for the governor, but spokeswoman Tara Lee said he stands ready to discuss it with Washington’s Pacific Coast neighbors.

“We’re watching it,” Lee said.

A Pemco Insurance survey of Washington and Oregon voters found strong support to leave the clock well enough alone: 24 percent of Washington residents and 26 percent of Oregon residents favor switching to Daylight Saving Time year round.

In both states, 66 percent would support a ballot initiative to keep clocks the same all year.

Wendy Culverwell: 509-582-1514
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