LOS ANGELES — California voters will decide Tuesday whether it’s time to stop changing their clocks twice a year and switch permanently to year-round daylight saving time.
The issue will be fresh in their minds. The state and most of the nation fell back an hour to standard time on Sunday, gaining an hour of daylight in the morning but losing one in the evening.
A yes vote on Proposition 7 would only be the first step toward year-round daylight saving time in California. It would still need a two-thirds vote from the Legislature and a change in federal law.
Democratic Rep. Kansen Chu of San Jose said he sponsored the initiative after his dentist called him to complain about springing forward when clocks move ahead every March.
The change deprives people of an hour’s sleep as it shifts an hour of sunlight from morning to evening.
Chu said he has learned that the reason for implementing daylight saving was to preserve energy during World War I. It no longer seems to apply to the modern world, he said.
Chu said he also came across studies that show an increased risk of car accidents and heart attacks following the spring change, when people lose an hour of sleep by setting their clocks forward.
“It’s a public safety measure,” Chu said. “And I don’t know anybody who really enjoys doing this adjustment of their schedule twice a year.”
Opponents of the measure argue that even if California voters and the Legislature approve year-round daylight saving, the hurdle of getting the federal government to approve is too high, considering the state’s tense relationship with Washington.
And making the switch to permanent daylight saving will cause its own headaches, said Democratic state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who represents Ventura County.
“I just don’t share this belief that this is a major crisis,” she has said.
If California goes to year-round daylight saving, the sun won’t rise until 8 a.m. on some winter months, forcing children to walk to school or bus stops in darkness and likely leading to an increase in car and pedestrian accidents, Jackson said.
Chu said he was open to implementing year-round standard time since the key is eliminating the need to change the clocks.
Hawaii and Arizona (with the exception of Navajo Nation) do not recognize daylight saving time. In March, Florida became the first state in the nation to approve year-round daylight saving time, but the shift can’t take effect unless Congress changes federal law.