Is this the last year Washington springs forward? Maybe.
A pair of bills are working through the state Legislature that aim to make this last weekend the last time Washingtonians spring forward one hour. This could be the end of daylight saving time in Washington.
Just hours before the clocks were due to jump forward Sunday, the House passed HB 1196, on an 89-7 vote during a Saturday floor session, stripping out a proposed amendment that would have added a public vote to the measure.
On Tuesday, the state Senate overwhelmingly passed its own version of the bill containing the public vote amendment, putting the Legislature at something of an impasse, as both chambers try and figure out what they want to send to the governor’s desk to be signed.
From here, legislators will have to agree on whether or not they want a public vote, or to simply pass the measure, get it signed, and get the ball rolling on getting a federal waiver to stay in Daylight Saving Time permanently.
Ahead of the Sunday House vote, 3rd District Democratic Rep. Marcus Riccelli explained what prompted him to introduce a bill that would keep Washington on daylight saving time all year round.
“I came to it from a health perspective. When the clocks get switched we see an increase in traffic collisions, we see an increase in strokes, heart attacks and other adverse health effects,” Riccelli explained.
Riccelli says studies also show it can reduce crime and benefit commerce.
“I think this bill makes good sense, kids can be healthier and more active outside later, and we’re already on daylight saving time eight months of the year and so I just think it makes sense … people are tired and they want to ditch the switch and move in this direction,” Riccelli said.
Ricelli’s bill had overwhelming, bi-partisan support in the House.
“Not only is the good for our health, is this good for our commerce, but this actually, this bill actually may be indeed good for America,” said Republican Rep. Matt Shea.
Riccelli says once this discussion started earlier this session lawmakers got a huge response from their constituents.
“While some people prefer permanent standard time, some people prefer — I think overwhelmingly prefer — daylight saving time … what’s just clear is that people are ready to stop switching back and forth,” Riccelli said.
And he stressed Washington is not standing alone in this effort.
“California has passed a proposition to the Legislature, Oregon has a measure, Idaho has a resolution to go with the time zone – so the intent is really to move our time zone. Just yesterday [Friday], Senator from Florida, a U.S. Senator introduced some national legislation, so the interest is there,” Riccelli said.
Riccelli is referring to a bill filed last week by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida that would make year round Daylight Saving Time the national standard.
Riccelli’s bill originally included a referendum clause which would have sent the issue to voters in the next general election, but that was stripped out in the House Appropriations Committee.
“There was a cost associated [with a public vote] and we’re trying to be really thoughtful and the appropriations committee thought maybe this is a measure we don’t need, there’s already interest,” Riccelli explained.
“For me, I was a little but frustrated because I thought a vote of the people would really show our congressional delegation this is something that we want,” he added.
Should the House and Senate come to a version of the bill they can agree on, it would still need federal approval, but Riccelli says even without the public vote he believes Congress will get the message, if they haven’t already.
“We’ve just heard overwhelmingly that people want this and also recently, Senator Patty Murray has expressed interest in seeing this bill passed and then having a federal conversation. So, it’s done what I think it needs to do and got the attention of the federal delegation and that’s what’s important to moving to the next step as we see this national movement,” Riccelli said.
Riccelli says the fact that both bills have made it as far as they have in separate chambers is a good sign.
“I think people are ready to stop changing their clocks and now is the appropriate time to have that conversation and hopefully move our federal partners and our time zone to a much healthier lifestyle,” Riccelli said.
Should either bill be approved by the full Legislature and get federal approval, it is not clear exactly when the permanent change would take effect. The two bills have slightly different timelines. It is also unclear how quickly Congress would take the issue up should the legislation pass, but Riccelli hopes for swift action in the other Washington.