Capitol Alert

Bill letting California end Daylight Saving Time clears key committee

Californians could be spared from changing their clocks twice a year, as a bill to let voters suspend Daylight Saving Time advanced past a key committee on Thursday.

Assembly Bill 385 cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee’s suspense file and is headed to the Senate floor. State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, was the only no vote.

More than 60 years have passed since California voters agreed to institute Daylight Saving Time, endorsing a 1949 ballot initiative whose proponents predicted heightened workplace safety, less crime and a more efficient use of resources.

Since then, the time shifts have become an irritant to many. Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, said he began re-evaluating the policy’s worth after reading research suggesting the risk of heart attacks, car crashes and workplace accidents rises immediately after Daylight Saving Time begins. A study of Indiana’s recent implementation of the time change also found it failed to limit energy consumption, instead causing people to use more electricity.

Because voters initially approved Daylight Saving Time, they would need to reject it. AB 385 would put the question before voters should it pass the Legislature.

That reality became more plausible Thursday with the vote by the appropriations panel, which functions as a legislative gatekeeper capable of halting controversial bills. To land on the 2018 ballot, the bill will still need to clear both houses and win the support of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Neither Hawaii nor Arizona observe Daylight Saving Time. An alternate option of switching to Daylight Saving Time hours yearlong could not happen in California without federal approval. A resolution calling on Congress and the president to authorize such a move has been advancing through the Legislature.

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