No more ‘spring forward’ if new bill passes Wash. State Legislature

Jan 17, 2024, 6:10 AM | Updated: Jan 18, 2024, 12:49 pm

standard time bill...

A selection of vintage clocks are displayed at the Electric Time Company. (Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

(Photo: Charles Krupa, AP)

Corrections and clarifications: A previous version of this story misidentified University of Washington professors Vishesh Kapur and Laura Prugh. This story also updated an earlier quote from Prof. Prugh.

A bill that would keep Washington in standard time year-round is clearing its first hurdle on its way through the legislature.

Senate Bill 5795 went before the State Government and Elections Committee Tuesday. If passed, it would implement year-round Pacific Standard Time. That means no “spring forward” — Washington would still see 4 p.m. sunsets in the winter – and lose the 10 p.m. sunsets in the summer.

More news: Residents skate on Lake Washington during frigid temps

But the bill’s primary sponsors, Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley) and Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond) said that staying on permanent standard time is about protecting people’s health.

“Research has shown that changing to and from daylight saving time twice per year has negative impacts on public health, increases traffic accidents and crime, disrupts agriculture scheduling and hinders economic growth,” the bill read. The bill also cited a University of Washington (UW) study that has linked the clock switching to a higher risk of heart attacks, more workplace injuries and increased suicide rates.

At the public hearing, state senators heard from people on both sides of the issue.

“Standard Time is the real time defined by the sun’s position in the sky. It is the honest time; it is the natural time. Some call it ‘God’s clock’ for connection to nature,” Jay Pea, the president of the nonprofit Save Standard Time, said.

UW professor and sleep medicine specialist Vishesh Kapur echoed that sentiment.

“We have an internal biological clock that is set by sunlight for optimal health,” Kapoor said. “Our behaviors such as sleep work, physical activity, and eating should align with that internal clock. This alignment occurs when we follow standard time.”

But others, including fellow UW professors Steve Calandrillo and Laura Prugh, disagreed.

“If you pass this bill, the sunrise is going to be at 4 a.m. in June in Seattle,” Calandrillo told lawmakers. “Darkness kills and darkness is two to three times more fatal at 5 p.m. than it is at 5 a.m.”

Prugh, a professor of wildlife, said the deadly consequences don’t just extend to humans.

“It would be harmful to people and wildlife by increasing the number of deer-vehicle collisions,” she said. “Our analysis showed that under permanent Standard Time, the number of collisions would increase by 8%. So we would have 2,240 more deer-vehicle collisions each year if this bill passes, and that means 220 more collisions per year where people are injured, and one to two more people die each year in fatal crashes with deer.”

Whether they support permanent daylight saving time or standard time, one thing every public speaker agreed on was the need to “ditch the switch” one way or another. In 2019, lawmakers passed a bill to keep Washington in permanent daylight saving time — avoiding a “fall back” in November and preserving 5 p.m. sunsets throughout the winter.

More on daylight saving time: As ‘Big Dark’ fades in Washington, daylight saving time debate goes on

But in order for the bill to take effect, the state still needs a federal waiver from Congress. That has been slow to arrive in the years since Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law, leaving the Evergreen State stuck in a holding pattern.

But a shift to standard time, like the one proposed by SB 5795, doesn’t require any approval and could go into effect right away.

If the bill passes, Washington would fall back this November, then remain in standard time permanently, joining Arizona and Hawaii as the only states to do so.

You can read more of Kate Stone’s stories here. Follow Kate on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

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No more ‘spring forward’ if new bill passes Wash. State Legislature