Daylight saving time: Why is this still a thing?
Last updated 3/11/2021 at 12:32pm
At 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 14, daylight saving time for 2021 will begin, clocks will spring forward an hour, and Washingtonians will once again ask themselves how this annual ritual is even still a thing we all must do.
The supposed reason for daylight saving time is for us to make better use of natural daylight during the spring and summer. However, the practice of shifting back and forth between daylight saving time and standard time has proved to be a dangerous and altogether useless exercise that ultimately does more harm than good. It’s time to end the shift once and for all and spare our citizens the negative safety, health and other effects that come with it.
For several years, I have been working with lawmakers in numerous Western states and Canadian provinces to develop language to move to permanent daylight saving time. Our coalition has focused on getting the policy right and building support to present a unified front in support of the change.
My counterparts in Oregon, California and British Columbia agree that it is important for the economic, physical and mental well-being of our constituents that the antiquated and destructive practices of springing forward and falling back be ended once and for all.
Doing so will benefit Washington state enormously. I first dug into this issue a few years ago after doing some research and meeting with experts about the benefits of longer daylight hours. People wrongly assume this is something that farmers came up with, but as someone who has farmed, we work no matter what the clock says.
During public hearings on my proposed state legislation on the issue, several experts pointed out the benefits such a change would have on students, overall health, commerce and public safety.
Steve Calandrillo, a law professor at the University of Washington, testified that in his research on daylight saving time he found that it saves lives, energy and prevents crime. “Congress should move the country to it year-round, or at least allow California, Oregon and Washington to do so,” he stated.
“When all of the costs and benefits are balanced, the advantages of extended daylight saving time are clear. It is past time that we set our clocks forward forever, and never have to switch them again,” he added.
It is the switch that causes the most damage, resulting in sleep deprivation, disruptions to our body’s natural circadian rhythms, and everything from heart attacks to asleep-at-the-wheel car accidents. It also has an economic cost. According to the American Psychological Association, several studies have found a decrease in productivity after the spring transition, including a “dramatic increase in ‘cyberloafing’ behavior at the national level.”
In 2019, I introduced a bill to end the shift and keep Washington permanently on DST. Senate Bill 5139 included a referendum clause similar to what other states have done, to give the public a say on the issue and help put pressure on elected officials here and in D.C. to take action on the change.
Unfortunately, our effort to remain permanently on DST was thwarted, when the Democrat majority co-opted the issue and passed a measure of its own, which we warned at the time would not resolve the issue. The watered-down version that eventually passed made some definitional changes to daylight saving time in Washington but didn’t let voters have a say. Instead, it relied on Washington, D.C. to secure a bipartisan, common-sense solution to the problem, without public pressure, and as was predictable at the time, nothing happened.
So now we must continue our work at the federal level. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Florida-16) has introduced the 2021 Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time the new, year-round standard time across the country. The bill is currently awaiting action in the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
It’s important that we urge our representatives and senators in Congress to support this policy and end this ridiculous and downright dangerous tradition once and for all.
Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, represents the 15th Legislative District.