Spring forward, no fall back? Lawmakers aim to make daylight saving time permanent
Federal legislators over the years have attempted to make daylight saving time permanent, but without success. New legislation has been introduced this year.
March 10, 2023 - 3:53 pm
Updated March 11, 2023 - 2:13 pm
It’s that time of year again.
You are set to lose an hour of sleep, and your weekend becomes just a tad shorter. Daylight saving time begins Sunday, which is sure to be followed by the biannual grumbling about the time change.
Federal legislators over the years have attempted to make daylight saving time permanent, so that the U.S. “springs forward,” but never again “falls back” in November. None of those tries has been successful.
In March 2022, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would end the twice-annual changing of the clocks, but it stalled in the House of Representatives that same year, with a vote never going forward.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act of 2023 in the Senate at the beginning of March, and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid,” Rubio said in a statement. “Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support. This Congress, I hope that we can finally get this done.”
The legislation would have to be passed by both chambers of Congress and get President Joe Biden’s signature. Last year, the Biden administration declined to reveal the president’s position on daylight saving time.
Advocates for the legislation say it will reduce seasonal depression, allow children to play outside longer after school and boost the economy. Keeping daylight saving time in place, however, would mean even longer dark mornings in the winter, when people are driving to work or going to school, opponents have argued.
Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., is a co-sponsor on this year’s House legislation to make daylight saving time permanent.
“The Sunshine Protection Act of 2023 was introduced in the House and Senate at the beginning of the month and has already garnered bipartisan support,” Amodei said in a statement. “Let’s hope this is the last time you need to reset your clocks.”
Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., did not return requests for comment but on Twitter has said that daylight saving time increases pedestrian fatalities. Democratic Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford did not return requests for comment.
States waiting for federal action
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 mandates the country use daylight saving time but allows states to opt out and exempt themselves from the practice, which Arizona and Hawaii did. It doesn’t allow for states to permanently establish daylight saving time. Congress must repeal the law for states to keep daylight saving time in place.
About 30 states have introduced legislation to end changing the clocks twice a year if allowed by Congress, but Nevada is not included. Efforts to end the twice-a-year time change in Nevada have gone on for years.
Nevada lawmakers urged Congress to change the law as early as 2001, when legislators approved Assembly Joint Resolution 5. The resolution, which passed unanimously through the Assembly and by a margin of 16-5 in the Senate, advised Congress to extend daylight saving time to “conserve energy and promote public safety.”
Most recently, then-Sen. Joe Hardy, Sen. Pete Goicoechea and then-Assemblywoman Robin Titus sponsored Assembly Bill 153 during the 2021 legislative session that would exempt the state from setting its clocks forward in the time between March and November, but only if California did the same. The legislation died without a hearing.
Nevada efforts to stop the clocks
“Over the years, we brought the bill multiple times,” Goicoechea said. “But again, we never really got any traction, never got it out. Even if you did, it couldn’t go anywhere, because it requires something on the federal side.”
The Eureka Republican has been part of legislative efforts to end daylight saving time in Nevada since 2003, when he was serving his first term in the Assembly.
Joined by Assembly members Bob Beers, Dawn Gibbons, Joe Hardy and Kathy McClain, the lawmakers sponsored a bill that would have exempted the state from federal daylight saving time provisions. The bill died on the chief clerk’s desk while awaiting an Assembly floor vote.
The bill was brought again during the 2005 legislative session by Assemblyman Bob McCleary, who argued before members of the Committee on Government Affairs that changing the clocks twice a year was an “annoying thing.” The legislation died in committee.
Lawmakers again urged Congress to end the time change in 2015. Assembly Joint Resolution 4, sponsored by Goicoechea and Assemblymen Chris Edwards, Derek Armstrong and James Oscarson, passed the Assembly by a margin of 30-12. The vote wasn’t unanimous in the Senate either, passing on a vote of 12-8.
No legislation has been brought to this legislative session to end Sunday’s “spring forward,” but that won’t stop constituents from being angry about it, Goicoechea said.
“By Monday, the phone will be ringing off the hook again because people don’t like changing their clock,” he said.
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