Permanent daylight time clears another hurdle, passing Washington state Senate

March 14— Mar. 14—Just a few days after we turned our clocks forward to observe daylight saving time, the state Senate approved a measure to get Washington off the time-changing seesaw and adopt DST year-round.

A similar bill passed the state House on Saturday, according to one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, who said in a phone interview that he was excited to see the bill move forward.

“We’ve had other bills like this, but this is the farthest it’s ever gone,” he said.

The bills, which have broad bipartisan support, passed both chambers easily. They differ from one another primarily in that the Senate bill calls for voter approval at the next general election.

Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, who sponsored the Senate bill, has called it an idea whose time has come.

“It’s time to stop switching back and forth,” he previously said.

Legislators in California, Oregon and Idaho are considering the change as well. Honeyford said it’s important that the West Coast be united on the issue.

Supporters of the bill contend that sticking to one time zone, rather than switching back and forth, would improve health and public safety, and staying on daylight time is the more popular option.

Experts in depression and sleep science aren’t as jazzed about the idea. They say it would be healthier to either keep the time change or stay permanently on standard time. Both those options would be more in line with our natural circadian rhythms, which are synced with morning light.

When we move our clocks forward into “daylight time,” we essentially lose an hour of morning light and tack it onto the evening. That can be hard on our bodies, and devastating for people with seasonal depression.

Riccelli said he understands the concerns raised by academics, but he said he’s seen studies that have shown the negative health effects of daylight saving are minimal.

“I think the benefits of decreasing crime and the positive health impact from daylight saving outweigh the negatives,” he said.

Washington state will need buy-in from Congress to make this change. Federal law allows states to opt into standard time permanently, as Hawaii and Arizona have, but staying on daylight time — as Washington is proposing — would require congressional approval.

Riccelli said last week that U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s staff told him she is interested in participating in a conversation about the issue on a federal level.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Vern Buchanan, both of Florida, introduced measures last week to make daylight saving time permanent nationwide. State lawmakers in Florida passed the Sunshine Protection Act last year in an effort to get their state off the time teeter-totter.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump tweeted that making daylight saving time permanent is “O.K. with me!”

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