Assemblyman Steven Choi’s AB2868 would add California to the list of states waiting to switch to permanent daylight saving time if the federal government gives the green light.
California voters approved a voting measure in 2018 that would allow lawmakers to petition the federal government to adopt permanent standard time or, if approved by Congress, permanent daylight saving time. State legislatures have not been able to pass a law with the required two-thirds majority since then. Choi’s bill is the last try.
Choi (R—Irvine) first told CapRadio he wanted to convert California to a permanent standard time, citing advocacy by sleep physicians that twice-yearly clock changes are detrimental to human health.
But when the US Senate approved a measure in March that would allow states to adopt permanent daylight saving time, Choi noticed a shift in the political winds of the time change.
“Personally, I prefer standard time as permanent time,” the Orange County Republican said in an interview. However, he acknowledged pursuing it would “go against the grain” as other states and the federal government consider extending daylight saving time.
Choi amended his bill to remove a provision that would require voters to agree to a permanent daylight savings time change. Now it would only require action by Congress.
“My underlying goal of this bill is to establish a time as permanent time,” he said. “We move forward in unison with the national movement.”
Seventeen other states have applied to adopt year-round daylight saving time, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, but this is currently prohibited under federal law. Arizona and Hawaii use standard time year-round, which Congress allows.
The Senate’s Daylight Protection Act still needs the approval of the US House of Representatives and the signature of President Joe Biden to become law.
Choi’s bill could also face hurdles within the legislature. It passed two committee hearings this week but was defeated by two lawmakers in the Assembly’s Energy and Public Utilities Committee.
“It seems to me that the natural cycle of things is not daylight saving time,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), one of two lawmakers who voted against the bill in this hearing.
Doctors prefer the year-round standard time
Two groups of sleep specialists — the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the California Sleep Society — oppose the conversion to year-round daylight saving time.
“Biologically, a permanent standard time is best for us, our children, and the community,” wrote Dr. Anoop Karipot, a board-certified sleep specialist and chair of the Department of Psychology at Scripps Memorial Hospital in San Diego, in an email to CapRadio. “We wake up in the sunlight and sleep when night falls. We should respect nature.”
Proponents of permanent daylight saving time argue that an extra hour of evening sun would reduce energy use and give people an extra hour to shop and eat, boosting the economy.
Jay Pea, founder of the non-profit organization Save Standard Time, argues that permanent Daylight Saving Time would increase energy use.
“When you wake people up in the morning, they turn on their heating because it’s cold,” he told an assembly committee this week.
He pointed out that if daylight saving time were permanent, winter sunrises in northern California would not arrive until after 8 a.m., meaning most workers and students could commute in the dark.
“That was tried back in the 1970s [and] it was very unpopular,” Pea said. “Permanent Standard Time is the quickest and governmentally pre-approved way to end daylight savings.”
AB2868 is currently before the Assembly Budgets Committee, which will decide whether to submit it to the full Chamber for debate.
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