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The Texas House has taken sides in one of America’s most polarizing debates — whether to continue changing clocks twice a year, ditch daylight saving time altogether or stick with later daylight permanently.
The representatives’ overwhelming verdict: Stay on daylight saving time moving forward.
The chamber voted 138-5 on Wednesday to approve House Bill 1422, from Rep. Will Metcalf, R-Conroe.
“The antiquated practice of ‘springing forward’ and ‘falling back’ — changing our clocks twice a year — is frustrating to many Texans,” Metcalf said ahead of a vote that gave the bill initial approval on Tuesday. “I believe we should stick to a time without switching twice a year.”
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, asked if the House could vote on who likes which variation of time before voting on the bill, which drew a couple of chuckles. That vote did not occur.
The idea is far from becoming reality. Once the bill gets a final House vote, it still has to clear the Senate. And even if signed to law by Gov. Greg Abbott — who said in a social media post, "I STRONGLY support this" — the measure would still require an OK from Congress.
Federal law lets states exempt themselves from observing daylight saving time — meaning they remain on standard time year-round — if they pass state laws doing so. But states do not have the power to permanently observe daylight saving time, like the Texas House wants, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
That’s the federal agency that oversees the country’s time zones and uniform observance of daylight saving time.
Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and “most of Arizona” do not observe daylight saving time, according to the transportation department.
If HB 1422 were to become law, Texas would join 19 states that have enacted or passed measures for year-round observation of daylight saving time, according to a tally from research group National Conference of State Legislatures.
Still, the laws cannot go into effect — as HB 1422 notes — unless Congress enacts a law granting states the authority to observe daylight saving time all the time. Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida introduced a federal bill last month that seeks to do just that.
“This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid,” Rubio said in a statement last month. “Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support.”
HB 1422 is among at least 18 bills that have been filed this session concerning Texas’ time and daylight saving. Some of the proposals are similar to HB 1422; others would let voters decide the time of day through a referendum.
While many researchers and sleep experts approve of no longer switching clocks twice a year, there appears to be less consensus about whether to follow daylight saving time or standard time.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, for instance, supports eliminating seasonal time changes and has found that permanently switching to daylight saving time could increase mood disorders and motor vehicle crashes.
The group wrote in a 2020 statement “current evidence best supports the adoption of year-round standard time, which aligns best with human circadian biology and provides distinct benefits for public health and safety.”
The National Sleep Foundation also endorses sticking with standard time, writing in its own opinion about the matter that “the human circadian system does not adjust to annual clock changes. Sleep becomes disrupted, less efficient, and shortened. [Daylight saving time] forces our biological clocks out of sync with the rising and setting of the sun (the sun clock). The link between our biological clock and the sun clock has been crucial to human health and well-being for millennia.”
Polls have shown Americans also want to stop changing their clocks twice a year but are not on the same page about which time to follow.
Disclosure: National Conference of State Legislatures has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
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