Lawmakers aim to ‘ditch the switch’ on daylight saving

Bill could avoid health risks by allowing year-round observation of daylight saving
Daylight saving time could become permanent in Washington state
Federal law must approve year-round daylight saving in Washington state

Lawmakers are pushing for a bill to allow year-round observation of daylight saving time in the state of Washington, with the intention of the practice spreading throughout the country.

House Bill 1196 was co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 14 representatives and introduced by Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane.

“I want to ditch the switch,” said Riccelli at a public hearing. “We’re already on daylight saving time eight months of the year.”

According to the bill, the state and all of its political subdivisions would follow Pacific Daylight Time throughout the year, should federal law allow the change.

The bill includes a referendum clause to allow the citizens of the state to vote in support or opposition of permanent daylight saving at the next general election.

“I think there is potential for the whole west coast time zone to move this direction,” said Riccelli. Advantages to the permanent time change include health benefits, a potential for reduction in crime and more daylight for after-school sports, he explained. Riccelli addressed the health angle of a permanent daylight saving time. Time change typically results in a loss of sleep over the first week of transition and disrupts the body’s natural rhythm, he said.

Caitlin Lang-Perez, Health Policy Analyst for the State Board of Health, shared data from a health impact review in Washington state.

“We found strong evidence that implementing year-round daylight saving time would likely improve health outcomes, particularly on days that would immediately follow the spring and fall transitions,” she said.

The health impact review focused primarily on heart attack and stroke, particularly in citizens already at a high risk.

“One study found a 29 percent increase in the incidence of non-fatal acute myocardial infarctions during the first four work days after the spring transition and a 44 percent increase during the first four work days following the transition in the fall,” said Lang-Perez.

Jim Heitzman, an Olympia resident, testified in opposition of the bill at the hearing. He expressed concern about the safety of children getting to school in the dark and fear of higher energy costs due to colder temperatures in the morning.

As stated in HB 1196, Washington state is located in the Pacific Time Zone. Standard time in the Pacific Time Zone is known as Pacific Standard Time, which is eight hours behind Coordinated Universal Time.

Beginning in 2007, Congress extended the daylight saving time period to start on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November, as referenced in the bill. Alaska and Hawaii are currently the only states with permanent daylight saving time.

– WNPA Olympia News Bureau