Clock ticking on bill to keep Washington in standard time year round
A deadline to advance a bill seeking to keep Washington in standard time year round is days away, with the proposal currently sitting in committee.
In a shorter legislative session in 2022, most bills need to passed out of committee by Thursday, Feb. 3, in order to move on for a full vote in their chamber of origin, be it the state House or Senate. State Sen. Jim Honeyford’s SB 5511 proposal to keep Washington in standard time received a hearing in the Senate’s Government & Elections Committee nearly two weeks ago, and has yet to come up for a vote.
In order to stay in Daylight Saving Time, states either need a federal waiver from Congress or approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Staying in standard time, though, requires no such approval, and can be implemented immediately at the state level should Honeyford’s bill pass in the 2022 legislative session.
Washington lawmakers passed a bill in 2019 to keep the state in Daylight Saving Time year round, and has been awaiting federal approval with little to no movement ever since.
Both sides of the standard versus Daylight Saving Time camps agree that twice-yearly time changes need to end once and for all. The choice between the two options is one that state Sen. Sam Hunt described as “an interesting balancing act” during a mid-January hearing for SB 5511, pointing out that under standard time, the sun can set as early as 3:45 p.m. during the winter months in Washington.
At the federal level, Washington Senator Patty Murray has continued to push for the Sunshine Protection Bill in Congress, which would keep the entire country in Daylight Saving Time year round. She also has previously said she is “vigorously pursuing” a potential workaround to have the U.S. Department of Transportation grant Washington state’s long-awaited waiver, although there has been little progress on that front.
But proponents of permanent standard time point to a relative consensus among the scientific community that argues against keeping the population in summertime hours. That’s based primarily on how Daylight Saving Time leads to later sunrises and sunsets, which can disrupt sleep cycles.
“If we want to improve human health, we should not fight against our body clock, and therefore, we should abandon DST and return to Standard Time (which is when the sun clock time most closely matches the social clock time) throughout the year,” says the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR). “This solution would fix both the acute and the chronic problems of DST.”
That’s a sentiment that was echoed by amateur astronomer and “Save Standard Time” founder Jay Pea during testimony in favor of Honeyford’s bill.
“It would improve Washington’s law to end the clock change,” Pea said. “(Standard time) is the natural time defined by the sun. It’s best for our sleep and our health, safety, endocrinology, our cardiology, psychology, metabolism, it’s even good for the economy and environment. It would keep your sunrises before 8 in the morning so you’re not sending people to school and work in the dark.”
As of publishing, SB 5511 has not been scheduled for a committee vote ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
Other states and territories that currently observe standard time all year include Arizona, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Minor Outlying Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.