For an American tradition that is practiced in 48 states plus the District of Columbia, daylight saving time certainly has its share of bleary-eyed haters. One can almost set a watch by the annual attempts to get rid of it.
And so, right on time, we have legislation from Assemblyman Kansen Chu here in California. Assembly Bill 807 would ask voters to repeal the Daylight Saving Time Act, which requires people in this state to set their clocks forward by one hour every spring and back by an hour every fall.
“If signed by the governor,” the San Jose Democrat told The Bee earlier this month, “the bill will bring California closer to abolishing the outdated practice of switching our clocks in the fall and spring.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
Chu’s argument, as in 2016, when he last floated this legislation, is that daylight saving time reduces productivity and disrupts sleep, and doesn’t save energy as promised because the long summer days just give Californians an excuse to keep their air conditioning on full blast.
There’s also the much-discussed public health benefit of scrapping the practice. And indeed, who among us wouldn’t savor a few more hours of sunlight on those dreary winter days?
So, sure. All of these things are problems. But California is likely to create even bigger problems if the Brown signs AB 807 and voters signal they want to get rid of daylight saving time.
As we noted back in 2016, refusing to sync with the rest of the country – save Hawaii and Arizona – could be costly. In 2005, when Congress extended daylight saving time by a month, the Air Transport Association warned that keeping U.S. flights lined up with international travel schedules would cost $147 million.
Messing with the clocks also is bound to insert new headaches into everyone’s workday. In states that don’t have daylight saving time, coordinating deadlines and conference calls is a pain, especially for corporations with operations in multiple states. Every day, Californians would have to remind people across the country what time it is, as other states continue to fall back and spring forward.
For these reasons, AB 807 is a waste of time. But it also promises to be a time suck for the Legislature.
The repeal of the Daylight Saving Time Act that the legislation promises would really be more of a replace. It would update the decades-old ballot measure to bring it into alignment with how the state currently handles the biannual clock change. And it would give the Legislature more sway over the practice.
To actually achieve Chu’s goal of getting rid of daylight saving time altogether, he or another lawmaker would have to introduce yet another bill. That bill to would have to clear both the Assembly and the Senate, be signed by the governor and, by some accounts, win approval by Congress.
Doing away with daylight saving time shouldn’t be done piecemeal. It should happen on the congressional level or not at all.
Sometimes you have to know when to spring forward and know when it makes more sense to fall back and walk away.