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No More Clock Changes? California Chooses Year-Round Daylight Saving Time

But the voter-approved measure still faces several major hurdles.

Kansas Daily Life
(AP/Charlie Riedel)
For results of the most important ballot measures, click here.

The world's sixth-largest economy on Tuesday inched closer to adopting daylight saving time year round, as voters in California approved a ballot measure to end the practice of setting the clocks back each November and springing forward in March. But the change still faces major hurdles, including receiving Congressional approval, before it can be put in place.

The ballot measure’s sponsor, Democratic Assemblyman Kansen Chu,  had pointed 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 said the proposed change was 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.”

Even as voters approved the ballot measure, the change still needs 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 joined a recent wave of states revisiting this practice. In March, Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill to make daylight saving time year round. 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 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 results of the most important ballot measures, click here.

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