Capitol Alert

End of daylight saving time inches closer in California

Do we still need Daylight Saving Time?

Learn why we change clocks twice a year in this brief history of Daylight Saving Time.
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Learn why we change clocks twice a year in this brief history of Daylight Saving Time.

California voters may get a chance to weigh in on daylight saving time in November.

The state Senate on Thursday approved a proposal to ask voters to repeal a 70-year-old initiative that set a biannual clock change in California and give lawmakers the power to adjust the time with a two-thirds vote.

“If signed by the governor, the bill will bring California closer to abolishing the outdated practice of switching our clocks in the fall and spring," said Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D- San Jose, who introduced Assembly Bill 807.

Foes of the practice shouldn't celebrate just yet. The state cannot officially end daylight saving time until next year, at the earliest. The process is best described as complicated and would require a second bill and federal approval, according to analysis from the Legislature.

AB 807 asks voters to repeal a 1949 ballot measure, the Daylight Saving Time Act, that established Standard Pacific Time in California. The older measure also required the state to advance the clock one hour on the last Sunday in April and set it back on the last Sunday of September. Voters later adjusted the fall back period to the last Sunday in October.

Today California conforms with federal mandates on daylight saving time by setting the clock ahead on the second Sunday in March and back on the first Sunday in November. The state never changed the law, and AB 807, with voter approval, would alter the statute to match the current practice.

The Assembly passed AB 807 last year and is expected to sign off again on amendments made in the Senate. Then the bill heads to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Chu's ultimate goal is to stop the clock change altogether. He and others before him have argued that doing away with daylight saving time improves public health. But the state would have to jump through several additional hoops next year to officially scrap it.

A sleep expert from the University of California at Davis says the switch to daylight saving time takes a definite physical toll, but can have other benefits.

AB 807 allows the Legislature to amend daylight saving time with a two-thirds vote in the future. If voters approve the ballot measure, Chu, or another lawmaker, would need to introduce a new bill to establish a permanent daylight saving time.

The new proposal would have to clear the Senate and the Assembly and receive the governor's signature. Then Congress would have to take action to sanction the law and allow states to adopt a year-round daylight saving time.

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