California Could Be the Next State to Ditch Daylight Saving Time

What time is it in California? If voters decide to abolish the clock-changing practice in November, answering that could become more difficult.
by | September 24, 2018
(AP/Charlie Riedel)

For a summary of November's most important ballot measures, click here.

California, the world's sixth-largest economy, is the latest state to flirt with the idea of no longer falling back in November and springing forward in March. Voters in the state will decide this fall whether to abolish the biannaul practice of changing the clocks.

The ballot measure’s sponsor, Democratic Assemblyman Kansen Chu, points to the medical risks associated with the time change. According to a 2011 study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the risk of heart attack increased 10 percent in the two days after a clock adjustment. A 2016 study in Finland noted an 8 percent increase in strokes during a similar time period.

Opponents of the ballot measure say the proposed change is a solution in search of a problem.

"It’s fixing something that is not broken," Republican California state Sen. Jim Nielsen told Capitol Weekly. "Our society has acculturated itself to daylight saving time. I think it would create too much confusion to change it again."

Most states have been observing daylight saving time since shortly after World War II, but there was no federal DST law until 1966. In addition to the medical benefits, supporters argue that ending the clock-changing practice would reduce energy use and aid agriculture.

While Chu insists the change would save lives, University of California professor Severin Borenstein blogged in July that “permanent [daylight saving time] would likely lead to more pedestrian accidents on winter mornings, as more adults and children venture out in darkness, with the sun rising as late as 8:21 AM.”

If voters pass the ballot measure, the change would still need to clear two hurdles. First, Congress would have to amend the Uniform Time Act to allow California to stop recognizing Pacific Standard Time. Then, two-thirds of the state's legislature would have to agree to it. (Hawaii and parts of Arizona are the only places that have received this approval.)

California joins a recent wave of states revisiting this practice. In March, Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill to stop observing daylight saving time. But efforts to amend the Uniform Time Act have stalled in Congress despite support from Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Four states in New England have also recently considered bucking the seasonal time changes. Proponents in Maine support ditching DST because the far northern part of the state experiences sunsets before 4 p.m. between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For a summary of November's most important ballot measures, click here.