SALEM — A proposal to put Oregon on year-round Daylight Saving Time passed the House Thursday, and now the only hurdles to the change are outside the state.
Senate Bill 320, which passed 37-20, now goes to Gov. Kate Brown. But the shift away from twice-yearly changing of the clocks will only really happen if California passes similar legislation and Congress gets involved.
Washington has already done so, and Gov. Jay Inslee has signed the change into law.
The California Assembly last month passed a bill to place the country’s most populous state on daylight tim, but the state Senate has yet to take it up.
If California joins Oregon and Washington, Congress still must vote to let the three states abandon Pacific Standard Time. Several West Coast lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., support the move.
The House vote on Thursday was somewhat closer than in the Senate, with several representatives opposing year-round daylight time.
Rep. Jack Zika, R-Redmond, is concerned about the sun rising an hour later in the winter, already the darkest time of the year. He lives close to where his young children go to school, and he doesn’t like the idea of them going to school in the dark more than they already do.
“Don’t make my kids walk to school in the dark,” Zika said.
Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, one of SB 320’s sponsors, pointed to a chart that shows when the sun would rise and set on Nov. 20, Dec. 20, Jan. 20 and Feb. 20 if Oregon ditches standard time. The latest sunrises would be in western Oregon, around 9 a.m., while in central and eastern Oregon, they’ll be closer to 8:30 a.m.
Oregon already observes daylight time for a majority of the year, from March to November, Post noted.
“I really think we’re talking about a small period of time here, not a large change,” he said after the vote, adding, “I’m not trying to discount those fears, but I think they’re a little over-the-top.”
Post said he’s been hearing for years from constituents who are tired of “springing forward” and “falling back” every year.
“People like the longer afternoons and evenings,” Post said, gesturing to the natural light coming in through his office window.
Gov. Kate Brown has declared her support for making Daylight Saving Time permanent. She said Thursday she plans to sign SB 320 into law.
Malheur County, the only county on Mountain Time, would not have to follow the new clock rules and instead keep its clocks in sync with neighboring Idaho.
If federal approval is obtained this year and California passes its own bill, this November would likely be the last time Oregonians have to set their clocks back one hour. Next March, when the West Coast states go on daylight time, there would be no falling back.
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