Five years after pushing for permanent daylight time, Oregon senator seeks switch to standard time

Five years after Oregon lawmakers passed a bipartisan law to permanently stay on daylight time, Oregonians are still stuck changing their clocks twice a year.

States can’t switch to permanent daylight time without congressional approval, though they can choose to opt out of daylight saving time altogether. Now, the state senator who led the effort five years ago to ditch standard time is spearheading a new multistate effort to stick with standard time year-round. A Senate committee is expected to vote on Sen. Kim Thatcher’s proposal on Thursday. 

Thatcher, R-Keizer, told the Senate Committee on Veterans, Emergency Management, Federal and World Affairs on Tuesday that Senate Bill 1548 comes after years of trying to work with other West Coast states to adopt permanent daylight time. 

“We don’t have to ask permission from the federal government. We don’t have to say ‘Mother may I?’ as a state,” Thatcher said. 

Switching to standard time would mean earlier sunrises and sunsets in the summer. In Oregon, that would mean the sun would rise around 4:30 a.m. and set around 8 p.m. in June, instead of the current 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Hawaii and most of Arizona already don’t observe daylight saving time, and Indiana didn’t start changing its clocks until 2006. Thatcher said Western lawmakers are working together to switch to standard time as a group to minimize confusion: Lawmakers in California, Idaho and Washington introduced similar bills. 

“I think right now it’s almost like a standoff, like ‘Who’s gonna go first?’” Thatcher told the Capital Chronicle late last year. “We don’t want to be the first one because it’ll be too confusing. Well, I think we just have to do it, and then I am working with those other states and we are looking to do it somewhat simultaneously.” 

Washington’s bill, introduced by Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, received a hearing, but failed to move out of committee before that state’s legislative deadlines. 

“If there is one issue most people agree on, it’s the dislike of moving their clocks from standard time to daylight saving time in the spring and then back to standard time in the fall,” Padden said in a statement. “There have been scientific studies connecting several health problems with switching back and forth between standard time and daylight saving time, including greater risks of heart attacks and more frequent workplace injuries. This bill would allow Washington to finally ‘ditch the switch’ by keeping us on standard time permanently.”

California’s bill, introduced by Assemblyman Tri Ta, R-Westminster, was referred to a committee last week and awaits a hearing. The Idaho bill hasn’t yet been introduced.

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Julia Shumway is deputy editor of Oregon Capital Chronicle and has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.