SALEM — Oregon took a step toward moving to year-round daylight saving time on Thursday, as the state Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation that could stop the changing of the clocks for most Oregonians.
Like 47 other states, Oregon “springs forward” by an hour every March, then “falls back” to standard time every November. If Senate Bill 320 becomes law, all but one of Oregon’s 36 counties would spring forward and never fall back — but only if Congress approves the time change and neighboring Washington and California also adopt daylight time on a permanent basis.
The Senate voted 23-4 in favor of SB 320. Both the support and opposition were bipartisan, with two Democrats and two Republicans voting no.
“People are sick of the switch,” Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, the bill’s chief sponsor, said.
Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, said he hears the same.
“My constituents in significant, not huge, numbers have been pretty united in wanting to end the time change,” Golden said. “Not united in which way we should go, but just, ‘Please, can we stop switching twice a year?’”
Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, D-Beaverton, opposed the bill. A physician at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital, Steiner Hayward acknowledged that there is a documented uptick in health problems after time changes.
“For years, I’ve hoped that we can find one time and stick with it,” Steiner Hayward said.
However, Steiner Hayward said she is concerned about the effect that staying on daylight time in the winter months would have on religious observances.
In Judaism, the daily morning prayer is typically held shortly after sunrise. In early January, the sun would not rise until nearly 9 a.m. in western Oregon if the state abandons standard time in favor of year-round daylight time. Steiner Hayward said the lateness of the sunrise “will significantly impede the ability of people to participate in group prayer and make it to work on time.”
Sen. Alan Olsen, R-Canby, objected to the removal of a provision in the original version of SB 320 that would have referred the question to voters next November.
“The fact that we are taking it upon ourselves to make this change is rather interesting when we affect four million people by doing this, without the discussion of four million people,” Olsen said. “This should go to the people.”
Sens. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, and Bill Hansell, R-Athena, were the other two opponents. Johnson said she was convinced by Steiner Hayward’s argument while Hansell agreed with Olsen.
Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, voted yes on the floor but said she wants to see the bill amended in the House to put Oregon on standard time year-round instead of daylight time, which is one hour ahead of Pacific Time.
All of Oregon is on Pacific Time except for Malheur County, which is on Mountain Time. Even if SB 320 takes effect, Malheur County would continue to switch between daylight time and standard time, staying on the same clock as nearby Boise, Idaho.
California residents approved a proposition last year allowing the Legislature to move the state to year-round daylight time. In Washington, bills similar to the one approved by the Senate on Thursday have been speeding through the Capitol.
The premier of British Columbia has also expressed interest in moving to year-round daylight time to match the time zone of the West Coast states.
President Donald Trump and several key members of Congress, including Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., favor year-round daylight time.
In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown has supports the idea.
“I would like us to take a moment to recognize that our governor, Kate Brown, and our president, Donald Trump, agree on something,” Thatcher said on the Senate floor Thursday, to laughter.
Asked about SB 320 this week, House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said she supports ending the biannual time switch, although she would prefer to remain on standard time year-round.
Daylight saving time was instituted in the United States in 1918. The concept came in and out of vogue over the next half-century, being observed in some states and cities but not others, until Congress in 1966 established daylight time nationwide for about six months out of the year. The period in which daylight time is in effect has lengthened over time, most recently being extended to eight months — from March to November — starting in 2007.
Reporter Mark Miller: [email protected] Miller works for the Oregon Capital Bureau, a collaboration of EO Media Group, Pamplin Media Group, and Salem Reporter.
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