CA Assembly bill proposes eliminating daylight saving time statewide

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Californians could vote to permanently rewind the clock by an hour, thanks to a state Assembly bill that proposes eliminating daylight saving time statewide.

Originally co-sponsored by Assemblymembers Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, AB 807 would authorize the state Legislature to consider eliminating the time switch and move to daylight saving time all year. The bill was approved by the Assembly on Thursday, and is en route to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

Chu said in an email that although daylight saving time was initially implemented to conserve energy during wartime, studies show that such reasoning is outdated.

“We are no longer saving energy, and studies have shown this practice increases risk of heart attacks, traffic accidents and crimes,” Chu said in a press release. “It is time that we as a state reconsider whether this is still beneficial to our residents.”

Matthew Walker, a UC Berkeley psychology professor who studies the impact of sleep on human health, said in an email that he supported doing away with daylight saving time. Walker stated that losing one hour of sleep when springing forward is linked to a 24 percent increase in heart attacks the next day.

Additionally, he said car accidents spike in the same time frame, due to drowsy driving.

“Keeping our sleep timing regular, not just every day or every week, but every year, is critical for the health of individuals and society,” Walker said in an email. “Sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset the health of (our) brains and bodies.”

Daylight saving time was instituted in California in 1949 when voters passed Proposition 12, which bound California to federal guidelines requiring that clocks be moved ahead one hour in the spring and behind one hour in the fall.

If AB 807 were to pass, it would apply strictly to California, while federal time zones would remain the same. Assemblymember Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, cited the lack of arguments explaining why California should revert to pre-daylight saving time on its own as a reason to oppose the bill.

“This legislation provides little benefit for California at a large cost,” Levine said in an email. “Ask yourself the upside to being in a different time zone than Oregon half of the year?”

In contrast, Assemblymember Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said in an email that Californians ought to have “another chance to weigh in on the issue,” as there is more information today regarding the pros and cons of frequent time switches.

“When voters approved the Daylight Savings Time Act back in 1949, they didn’t have the data we have today,” Ting said in an email. “Because we now have better information on the effects of adjusting the time, we have to ask ourselves whether this outdated practice is still necessary.”

Revati Thatte is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @revati_thatte.