Capitol Alert

Daylight saving time could end in California

Springing forward and falling back would be reserved for gymnasts under a California bill seeking to eliminate daylight saving time.

If you’ve ever awoken an hour early, showed up to work an hour late or groaned at having to reset all your clocks because of the biannual time shifts, Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, feels your pain.

“I heard some complaints last year from some of the senior citizens (in my district) and their care providers who say this one-hour difference really impacted their lives,” Chu said.

So he did some research. The results cast daylight saving time in a negative light. There’s evidence it’s correlated with an uptick in workplace accidents, he said. There’s evidence that it does not limit energy consumption: after instituting daylight saving time in 2006, one study found, Indiana actually used more electricity.

Hence Assembly Bill 2496, which would end the practice in California, undoing a law that voters approved back in 1949 via Proposition 12.

At the time, a ballot statement in favor argued altered summertime hours would bolster “public health and industrial efficiency” by improving worker safety, limiting juvenile delinquency, saving water, preventing car crashes and aiding farmers.

Opponents warned it would burden “housewives” because “the feeding schedule of her children would become disarranged,” disrupt railroad shipping, cut into movie revenue and lead to reduced church attendance. They, too, claimed farmers as allies.

“If people in the cities want Daylight Savings of one hour, the businessmen and industries should decide to open their stores, offices and plants an hour earlier and close an hour earlier,” the opponents wrote. “This would not disrupt the clock in any way and would allow farmers and other groups governed by the sun to keep a normal, year around schedule.”

Reversing the electorate of 1949 would mean going before today’s voters and asking them to make the change, assuming the bill passes.

“This could be a very controversial one,” Chu said, but when he informally polls constituents, he said, “the results are very positive.”

Legislators in several other states have submitted bills either abolishing daylight saving time or proposing to put the issue before voters in recent years. Hawaii and Arizona (outside of Navajo Nation territory) already abstain from adjusting timepieces.

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An “End Daylight Saving Time” page on a website that sends form letters to Congress has generated over 80,000 missives. Letter writers call the tradition “nonsense,” “maddening” and “antiquated,” complain that it “disrupts the internal clocks of human beings” and link the change to heart attacks.

“California should also be leading this change,” Chu said. “I cannot believe that anybody would like to do this fall backward, spring forward thing twice a year.”

Jeremy B. White: 916-326-5543, @CapitolAlert

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