PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The governors of both Oregon and Washington signed bills to make daylight saving time permanent in their respective states this year, but you’ll still need to change your clocks on Sunday. That’s because the federal government has to approve the change.
In case you’re new to the whole process, daylight saving time (DST) makes it so there’s less light during morning hours in exchange for more light in the evening. When we fall back to standard time Sunday, we’ll trade light in the evening for an earlier sunrise.
The concept has been around since the late 1800s, but The Uniform Time Act of 1966 outlines DST as we’re most familiar with it. The federal law allows states to opt out of DST, but they can’t opt in to DST year round. Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands have opted out and remain on standard time all year. However, standard time may not be the most popular with the public.
People like DST for all sorts of reasons
It’s argued that having more light in the evening promotes active lifestyles because people are more likely to take part in outdoor activities after work or school if it’s still light out. DST is also said to be better for the economy because, again, later daylight could encourage people to be out and about spending money after work.
A 2015 student in The Review of Economics and Statistics suggested DST could even lower crime rates. The authors of the study wrote in a blog post that “there was an average of 7 percent less crime overall following the shift to daylight saving time, with a 27 percent drop during the evening hour of gained sunlight.”
One of the most common arguments against permanent DST is that it would likely lead to children walking to school or waiting for the bus in the dark.
Researchers at Stanford and Johns Hopkins suggest changing the clocks twice a year is actually dangerous. They found “a significant increase” in car crashes for the Monday after the spring shift to DST and on the Sunday of the fall shift away from DST. They think it’s because of sleep deprivation when you lose an hour. And when you gain an hour in the fall, people may stay out later and drink more in anticipation of getting extra sleep the next day.
Where the West Coast stands
State Senator Kim Thatcher tried to get Oregon in the year-round standard time boat in 2015. That bill died in committee, but during the process she heard from many people who didn’t want DST to go away; they wanted to keep it all year.
“(I got) a lot of feedback from people saying that they would hate to get rid of long summer nights and they would hate to give up the daylight saving time during the summer, but realizing that it would make for darker mornings during the winter,” Thatcher said.
Instituting year-round DST is a tougher ask because it requires Congress getting involved, so she said she enlisted Oregon’s neighboring states so the entire West Coast could make its case together.
“… it would be more likely to be approved if we went as a block,” she said.
The Keizer Republican’s revamped bill would require all of Oregon (except the portion in the Mountain Time Zone) to skip the switch starting on the first Sunday of the first November after Washington and California have adopted the same law. Governor Kate Brown (D) signed the bill in June.
In May, Governor Jay Inslee (D) signed Washington’s version, and California is set to vote on its bill in January 2020.
Assuming that happens, the next step is to get Congress to validate the move. Thatcher said her office has been in contact with Senator Ron Wyden (D) to encourage action on that front. She said Wyden has expressed support for the move. Even the President has given his stamp of approval.
If Congress doesn’t act, Thatcher said the states could also petition the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“That’s what I think is probably more likely than getting Congress to pass something any time soon,” she said.