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Davis, California

Friday, May 24, 2024

What’s actually happening with daylight savings at the state and federal level?

A breakdown of the conditional policy on seasonal time changes


By ZOEY MORTAZAVI — features@theaggie.org


In March 2024, the biannual round of “Don’t forget to change your clocks!” comments commenced as usual. In California, there has been confusion surrounding the topic of daylight savings for quite some time, with constant back and forth in public opinion and legislation. 

While some do appreciate the change of daylight savings, there is also widespread frustration with the biannual time switch. Many UC Davis students have commented that they wish a motion would pass to finally establish a permanent standard time. 

“I definitely prefer when it gets darker later in the day,” Madeline Hass, a first-year environmental science and management major, said. “I always look forward to resetting the clocks in March, and I wish it would stay that way year-round. Plus, having evening or night classes and leaving them to see that it’s still light outside is really nice.” 

In November 2018, American voters passed Proposition 7, granting legislative power to change the daylight savings time measure, by an overwhelming number. This measure allowed the California State Legislature to change daylight savings time, either by establishing it year-round or abolishing it. 

Actual change to the policy requires a two-thirds majority of both the Senate and the State Assembly, as well as a signature from California’s governor, Gavin Newsom. Making the permanent shift to keep daylight savings time also requires congressional action, which has yet to take place.  

For many Californians, hope was sparked about ending these time changes through the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 (S 623), which was approved by the Senate to consider daylight savings time the new standard time nationwide. Despite the Senate’s unanimous approval of this act, the House of Representatives chose not to approve it. 

Following the time switch last month, many at UC Davis, particularly female students, have reported that daylight savings time makes them feel safer living on a college campus. During winter quarter it gets darker much earlier due to the standard time switch — which takes place in November of every year — and students with classes after 4 p.m. are all forced to make their way home in the dark. 

“When the days start getting shorter, I’m always relieved when daylight savings comes along. For me, it’s primarily a safety issue; I grew up in a big city, and I’ve never enjoyed walking home alone in the dark,” Phoebe Anzalone, a first-year American studies major, said. “In the winter, it gets dark as early as 4 p.m., so I frequently end up out and about when there’s no light out. Daylight savings brings me more comfort in the winter months, since I don’t have to worry as much about getting home before an early curfew.”

In order for daylight savings time to become the permanent standard time, it requires both House approval and a signature from President Biden. This bill was meant to be passed as of Nov. 5, 2023, but did not receive the necessary approval. 

There has been much confusion since November; essentially, whether this change is going to be made is contingent on many moving pieces, all of which are currently pending. Whether or not we commence with the next time change in November of 2024 should be determined in the upcoming months. 

Daylight savings was initially established on March 19, 1918, when the Standard Time Act was passed. According to the American Navy, standard time zones were established in 1883 in the United States and Canada, but weren’t officially incorporated into US law until the act’s passing. The Standard Time Act also established daylight savings time, but this was controversial, thus leading to its repeal in 1919. It was re-established during World War II in 1942, and was referred to widely as “war time.” 

In 1966, the Uniform Time Act was put into place, setting standardized dates as to when daylight savings time would begin and end across the US. Federal law, as established through this act, allows for states to exempt themselves from observing daylight savings time by state law, but they may not resolve to be on permanent daylight savings time. Arizona and Hawaii currently use the permanent standard time, therefore refraining from switching their clocks biannually.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, more than 500 bills or resolutions have been proposed and considered during the last decade on this topic. Lawmakers have been torn over this issue for years, with many different acts and propositions being pushed forward to try and find a common ground.

There are many reasons that people hope to switch to daylight savings time for good. According to Harvard Health, continuing to change our clocks twice a year can result in various health consequences. Their study offers suggestions for people to prepare for time switches in advance, making preparations such as altering your bedtime preemptively, curbing alcohol or caffeine consumption and delaying parts of your daily routine. 

Students at Davis have also reported that time changes can change how they feel in terms of daily productivity. Many have expressed that daylight savings time makes the days feel longer, and therefore allows them to get more of their work done while the sun is still out. 

“I personally prefer having more daylight in the evening, since it allows me more time to get things done in the day without waking up super early,” Jenevah Harrison, a first-year English major, said. “I’m not someone who enjoys waking up early every day, so it’s nice that I can sleep in sometimes and not feel like the day is completely wasted. Overall, I think in this day and age it makes more sense to practice daylight savings since society functions much differently than it did in the past.”

Despite the constant back and forth of the time change debate, making a nationwide policy change requires a lot of moving parts. What may seem as simple as changing the clocks to give us more sunlight every day actually takes extensive legislative action, effort and time for national policy makers. 

Hopefully, whether or not the U.S. plans to establish a standard time nationally will be determined during this calendar year, if not within the upcoming months before the next scheduled time change in November. 


Written by: Zoey Mortazavi — features@theaggie.org



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