Oregon has done its part to free us from the tyranny of our twice-yearly changing of the clocks. But let's not abandon the ramparts just yet, compatriots — work remains ahead of us.
The Oregon House of Representatives last week passed Senate Bill 320, which would establish year-round daylight saving time across the state. (The exception is Malheur County, which is on Mountain time and which will continue changing its clocks so that it remains in sync with Idaho.)
The bill now goes to Gov. Kate Brown, who has said she will sign it. (This could be the only issue on which the governor and President Donald Trump have any sort of agreement; Trump tweeted in April that "Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!")
The bill drew bipartisan support: In the Senate, which voted on the measure in April, both Democrat Sara Gelser and Republican Fred Girod voted in favor. In the House, Democrats Dan Rayfield of Corvallis and Marty Wilde, who represents part of southern Linn County, voted "yes," as did Republicans Sherrie Sprenger of Scio and Mike Nearman of Independence. (Nearman was among the bill's sponsors.) Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis of Albany, a Republican, voted against the measure.
Even with the governor poised to sign the bill, it's still way too early to declare victory. The bill only goes into effect if other West Coast states follow suit and Congress signs off on the change.
Hold on, you ask: Why does Congress need to approve this? Aren't two states already on permanent standard time? Did they need to get congressional approval?
These are excellent, well-informed questions, colleagues. And you are correct that two states, Hawaii and Arizona, have adopted permanent standard time. It turns out that states are allowed to shift to permanent standard time. But it's against the law for states to unilaterally impose daylight saving time. So Congress will need to take action before we can sweep our twice-yearly clock ritual into the dustbin of history.
It's not at all out of the question that the remainder of the West Coast also will endorse permanent daylight saving time. In fact, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee already has signed a bill approving permanent daylight saving time. And the California Legislature is considering the change after voters signaled their support last year at the ballot box.
The issue may be finally gathering enough momentum that Congress will have to take notice. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has introduced legislation to make daylight saving time permanent, and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon has expressed support for the idea.
We've written on numerous occasions about this issue, so we don't need to belabor our case again. Suffice it to say that daylight saving time always has been a bit of a fraud in that it was established in large part as an energy-saving measure, even though studies have shown it has little effect on energy consumption.
But it's the twice-yearly time change that is the big issue, at least for us. A 2008 study found that time spent changing clocks costs the U.S. $1.7 billion in potential revenue. Other studies report that changing the clock affects our sleep cycle, presenting health and productivity risks. Tired workers still adjusting to the time change are more likely to slack off or to face workplace injuries, and a 2014 study found a 6.3% increase in fatal automobile accidents over the six days following the time switch.
Opponents of the measure in the House last week expressed concerns that the sun would rise after 8:30 a.m. in the winter months and children would be forced to go to school in the dark. They also said it could impact agricultural operations that often depend on daylight. These are valid arguments, and we would have been fine if the bill had placed Oregon on standard time permanently; the important thing is just to pick one, daylight time or standard time, and to stick with it. Now, we're one step closer to that glorious day.