December 19, 2018
When Is Daylight Saving Time? Do You Need to Turn Clock Back in Washington, Given the New Law, Your Questions Answered?
Oct. 10, 2019 at 6:52 am Updated Oct. 10, 2019 at 6:12 pm
Seattle Times staff reporter
Yes, you do have to “fall back” and change your clocks Nov. 3, even though the Washington state Legislature passed a law earlier this year to stay on daylight saving time permanently. The law, which passed with strong bipartisan support, was signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in May. But under federal law, states aren’t allowed to stay on permanent daylight time without congressional approval. That means Washington’s law won’t take effect unless Congress acts — and, in case you haven’t noticed, Congress is a little busy.
Washington’s U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both said in emails they would support the effort. Murray called it “a smart move for public health, safety, and our economy,” saying she has heard complaints about the time change from constituents for years.
Murray has signed on to a national proposal introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, to amend the Uniform Time Act of 1966 and allow states to adopt permanent daylight saving time if they choose. Rubio calls it “locking the clock.” Washington state lawmakers went with “ditch the switch.”
Whatever you call it, the idea of abandoning the twice-yearly time change isn’t new. But it has gained traction: Over the past two years, more than 30 states have signaled an interest in opting out of the shift, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
That includes California, Oregon and Washington — where state Rep. Marcus Riccelli of Spokane, who sponsored the bill, says the issue has been very popular. So popular, in fact, that earlier this year he said he wishes people would pay half as much attention to the other work done in the state Capitolas they paid to the daylight saving bill.
On Seattle’s shortest winter day, the sun rises at about 8 a.m. and sets just after 4 p.m. If we were on Pacific Daylight Time in the winter, as proposed, the sun would rise about 9 a.m. and set just after 5 p.m. on the shortest day of the year.
If the West Coast of the United States is allowed to stay on daylight time, British Columbia will follow suit, said John Horgan, the province’s premier. An overwhelming majority of British Columbians — 93% of 220,000 people surveyed — support that change, according to survey results released by Horgan’s office last month.
Most of the U.S. has observed daylight saving time off-and-on for decades, dutifully springing forward and falling back each year. And the arguments for and against it are essentially unchanged since they were first debated before Congress in the 1960s.
Proponents of staying on daylight time — that is, the later-sunrise, later-sunset scenario we experience during the summer — say it would result in energy savings, fewer injuries and fewer crimes. That’s because more crimes happen in the darkness of the evening than in the dark hours of the morning, University of Washington School of Law professor Steve Calandrillo said in testimony before the state Senate earlier this year. Calandrillo has written extensively on the benefits of year-round daylight time.
“There’s a dramatic threefold increase in injuries at twilight,” he said in an interview earlier this year. Some critics of the idea say that observing daylight time year-round would leave children standing at their bus stops in the dark during winter, when it would otherwise be light. And experts in mood disorders and sleep warn that permanent daylight time would be devastating from a wellness perspective, especially for those who experience seasonal depression.
“I think people are so focused on the idea of having more light in the evening that they don’t think about how this is, in effect, morning-light-reduction time,” said Dr. David Avery, a professor emeritus in the UW School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry and an expert in seasonal affective disorder. He said morning light is more critical to our bodies’ circadian rhythms than evening light.
Switching to daylight saving time can be harsh, especially on those with SAD. Here’s how to minimize it. Riccelli is unmoved by these arguments, saying he expects the negative effects could be countered and are outweighed by the benefits.
If Congress approves of Washington’s proposal to “ditch the switch,” the state law would go into effect on the first Sunday in November after the federal authorization happens, unless authorization came in October, in which case it would go into effect the following year.
In other words, at the next opportunity to “fall back,” we just … wouldn’t. But for now, we’re changing the clocks as usual, and waiting on word from the “other Washington.”
If that never comes, state lawmakers have a backup plan: Ask for permission to switch time zones. Being on Mountain Standard Time year-round would have the same effect as being on Pacific Daylight Time year-round. Maine and Montana have gone that route, requesting to move to the time zone east of the one they’re in now in order to feel like they’re on daylight time permanently.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the Uniform Time Act of 1966.
W. O. Belfield, Jr.
April 9, 2009