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New bill could have California voters weigh in on daylight saving time — again

Sunset in Pacific Grove Calif., Jan 25, 2022.
Andrew Nixon
Sunset in Pacific Grove Calif., Jan 25, 2022.

In 2018, California voters passed a ballot measure that could have led to the end of daylight saving time in the state. Spring forward four years, and residents will still be changing their clocks this weekend, and may be voting on the issue again in November.

Proposition 7, approved by 59% of voters, gave state lawmakers the authority to move the state to year-round daylight saving time, but only after approval from Congress. But in the years since, state lawmakers haven’t passed legislation to join the list of states officially waiting for Congress to legalize year-round daylight saving time.

The federal government does not currently permit states to be on year-round daylight saving time. It only allows permanent standard time, which Arizona and Hawaii observe all year, along with U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa.

Though it’s not currently permitted, it seems staying on daylight saving time is a more popular option:17 states have passed legislation in recent years to permanently make the switch, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Assembly member Steven Choi (R-Irvine) wants California to join Arizona and Hawaii in year-round standard time, but he wants voters to weigh in, too.

His new bill, AB2868, in its current form would switch to permanent daylight saving time upon federal approval. But Choi said the original language was a drafting mistake and he plans to amend it. The changes would also include a question asking voters to approve a change to year-round standard time.

Polls show most Americans support ending the twice-yearly time change. Choi argues the century-old tradition is inconvenient and outdated.

“To my understanding, it was to save energy, but research has shown that was not the case,” he said in an interview. Choi also citedresearch showing the time change has negative health impacts.

“I see a lot more benefits by keeping one time, standard time, to be our permanent time,” he said.

Sleep researchers agree the time change affects humans’ natural sleep cycle and response to light. It is also linked to increased risks for heart attacks, particularly in older patients, as well as upticks in traffic accidents.

“We perform better, we feel better, we make less mistakes and there will be less fatalities if we just keep Standard Time,” Dr. Kin Yuen, sleep researcher at UC San Francisco and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told CapRadio. “It is better for everyone’s health.”

A congressional committee held a hearing earlier this week about the pros and cons of the biannual time change. And while the issue has long been debated, a permanent time change is gaining momentum, according to the Washington Post.

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