Daylight saving time — an ongoing debate

Spring is here, according to the calendar, and I can sense the change in the air, my days slowly stretching out towards the warm, late evening sunsets of summer. Yes, we all lost an hour of sleep on March 10, and yes, I am almost recovered from it. Almost.

Just a few days after we all participated in the bi-annual “spring forward,” the Washington State senate actually approved a measure to stop the time-change tango, coming one step closer to adopting daylight savings time year-round.

Last November, more than half of California voters — a total of 60 percent of the popular vote — approved Proposition 7, a ballot initiative meant to encourage the state to do away with the much-bemoaned practice of changing our clocks twice a year — a practice that started in the United States in 1918, as an attempt to conserve energy in the throes of World War I.

The practice evolved during the World War II era, when year-round DST was put into place. When the USA was not at war, each state was at liberty to choose when they would change their clocks, if they did it at all.

The shift evolved once more with the advent of the Uniform Act of 1966, and that act is responsible for the DST of today, with a few later amendments as to exact start and stop dates aside.
Proposition 7 still needs approval in California’s state legislature, but it has proven to garner bi-partisan support thus far.

President Trump even weighed in on the topic and appeared on my Twitter feed as he expressed similar sentiments on March 11, saying, “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!”

Federal law does allow states to opt out of the Uniform Act and into standard time permanently, as is done in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and most of Arizona (the exception being the Navajo Nation).

To actually move to year-round daylight saving time here in California, the initiative would need both presidential and congressional approval.

There are arguments that stand out to me, both for and against DST on both sides of the issue; supporters of the bill hold that staying in one time zone would benefit the health and safety of the public, and experts in the fields of psychology and sleep science contend that it would be healthier to either keep the time change or stay permanently on standard time.

Opponents to DST say that the switch causes a major disruption to sleep-cycles and that it is also associated with an uptick in workplace accidents, severe health disturbances and other such incidents.

The list of states that are considering similar initiatives related to DST grows ever longer, with a few states such as Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas even putting forward bills that would opt out of the shift completely.

When it comes to my life, that spring forward ultimately doesn’t change much, aside from my dogs feeling like they’re getting away with something when dinner shows up an hour earlier than they thought it would.

I’m intrigued by the idea of ditching the switch, but no matter what the clock reads, I’m ready for longer days, the almost magical rejuvenation of the garden as the snow melts away, and stolen lazy hours spent in a creek, lake, or river somewhere in this majestic area I’m lucky enough to live in.

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