In-Depth: Why California still has daylight saving time three years after Prop. 7

Prepare to spring clocks forward for daylight saving time this weekend
Posted at 6:32 PM, Oct 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 21:49:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- On Nov. 7, it will be time to “fall back” and reset clocks for the end of daylight saving time.

It’s a tradition the U.S. has observed since World War I, but Californians who remember the 2018 election might be wondering why we still have to change our clocks at all.

Nearly 60 percent of California voters said yes to Proposition 7, the 2018 ballot measure that many viewed as a way to end time changes for good.

But the proposition actually left the task of establishing a new standard up to California’s legislature by a two-thirds majority, and in the years since, lawmakers haven’t acted.

“What we found out is although a majority of people don’t want time to change, they are divided completely on which way to go,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), one of the original sponsors of the proposition.

Research shows the lost hour of sleep following the time change each spring causes more car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and workplace injuries. But the legislature has struggled to choose an alternative: permanent standard time or permanent daylight saving time?

“We haven’t been able to get two-thirds of the legislature to move in one direction or another,” she said, adding that the pandemic put the issue on the backburner.

The division really comes down to those who prefer more morning light and those who prefer more evening light.

Permanent standard time would allow for more morning light during the winter, and it’s the option preferred by health experts and sleep scientists.

Studies show without enough morning light, there is an increase in metabolic disorders, depression and heart disease. Doctors say standard time better aligns with our circadian rhythm.

Permanent daylight saving time allows for afternoon light during the winter, and it’s the option preferred by business groups.

Groups like the Chamber of Commerce have linked more daylight after work with increases in spending and economic activity, said San Diego State University political scientist Dr. Stephen Goggin.

Permanent daylight saving time would lengthen days during the critical winter shopping season.

Some research has also linked more afternoon light with a reduction in crime.

Despite the heated arguments on either side, there is little debate over which option would be easier for California to enact.

Under the Uniform Time Act of 1966, a switch to permanent daylight saving time requires approval from the U.S. Congress. Florida is still waiting for Congressional approval after passing permanent daylight saving time in 2018.

Permanent standard time could be accomplished by the California legislature alone, ending biannual time changes once and for all. Hawaii and Arizona already observe permanent standard time.

“We could get rid of it for good, but the political will is not there yet,” said Assemblymember Gonzalez.

Gonzalez said she was still deciding whether or not to reintroduce an effort to end daylight saving time next session in 2022.