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Daylight Saving Time bill: ‘Send it to the voters,’ says state senator

(John Davey, Flickr)

A bill that would keep Washington in Daylight Saving time permanently went before the state Senate for a public hearing Wednesday, where one senator pushed for a ballot initiative rather than action from the Legislature.

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“I just want to send it to the voters — let them tell us what they think we should do, and that will send a message to the federal government, and hopefully it spurs some action,” said Democratic Sen. Mark Mullet.

While switching to standard time year-round is generally a pretty streamlined process, choosing to stay in Daylight Saving Time requires a federal waiver, based on the economic impact it would have on surrounding states.

As of now, Washington state lawmakers have been working with Oregon to help draft its own version of this bill. California voted in favor of a similar ballot measure last November, making the only holdout Idaho, a state that exists partly in Mountain Time.

“If we can get all the western states lined up with a message to the federal government that we are really serious about considering this option, I think the feds will take it seriously,” Sen. Mullet said.

Arguing in favor of permanent Daylight Saving Time was UW law professor Steve Calandrillo.

“The real reason that we want to stay in Daylight Saving Times is to save lives,” he said. “Darkness kills — there is no question that darkness is deadly.”

Calandrillo cited data that says the evening rush hour is twice as deadly as the morning rush hour, largely due to the decrease in daylight, and the commute’s unpredictability as a result of that.

“Forty-three lives would be saved every single year by going to permanent daylight saving time,” he went on to claim.

Calandrillo points to data indicating that staying in Daylight Saving Time would actually reduce crime.

RELATED: Bill introduced to keep Washington in Daylight Saving Time year-round

“Criminals like to work in darkness — they are late to bed and late to rise, and so my goal is to take an hour of criminals’ work day,” he said.

This isn’t the first time a bill like this has been introduced in the state Legislature, but with California and potentially Oregon providing some West Coast momentum, perhaps now could be the time to finally make the switch.

Other states and territories that currently observe Daylight Saving Time year-round include American Samoa, Guam, the Minor Outlying Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Both Hawaii and Arizona (with the exception of tribal lands) observe standard time year-round.

The bill’s primary sponsor is Republican State Senator Jim Honeyford.

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