Good news today for most people in Oregon, given that national polls show that about 2/3 of people either want daylight saving time made permanent, or favor sticking with the current twice-yearly time change, and there's no reason to think Oregonians feel differently.
But state Senator Kim Thatcher figures that she knows best, so she introduced SB 1548, which would make standard time permanent in our state. I think this is a terrible idea. Here's the reasons why that I included in messages to my state senator and representative where I urged a "no" vote on the bill.
Today SB 1548 was voted on in the senate. At first it failed on a 15-15 tie. Then Thatcher changed her vote to "no" so she could make a motion to reconsider the bill. That had to be done today given rules for the short legislative session.
One senator agreed to keep SB 1548 alive by requiring that the bill be sent back to the Rules Committee so language could be added that says Oregon would only move to permanent standard time after Washington and California pass legislation to do this. This passed on a 16-14 vote.
I'd prefer that SB 1548 be killed completely, but this was a positive move for us lovers of daylight saving time. This month Washington failed to pass a bill to make standard time permanent in our neighbor to the north for the second year in a row. Hopefully that trend will continue.
In California, a bill to make standard time permanent, AB 1776, was introduced in the state legislature this year. Because it modifies a voter-approved initiative, the bill needs a 2/3 vote in the legislature to be approved, which is a pretty high bar. Also good news.
So even if the Oregon legislature were to pass SB 1548, since the amended version will require Washington and California to make standard time permanent before SB 1548 takes effect, it sure seems like our neighboring states are unlikely to do this soon, though politics is full of surprises.
The Oregon Capital Chronicle has a good story by Julia Shumway about today's SB 1548 happenings. Like I said, the bill survived, but given the low probability of both Washington and California approving legislation to make standard time permanent in the near future, the agreement to amend the bill is the next best thing to killing it. Here's excerpts from Shumway's story. Sara Gelser Blouin is my state senator. Good to see that she voted "no" on the bill, offering some good reasons why.
An effort to switch Oregon to permanent standard time will live to see another day after hitting a temporary roadblock on Tuesday when the state Senate split evenly on the bill.
It takes 16 “yes” votes to pass a bill in the 30-member Senate, and Sen. Kim Thatcher’s Senate Bill 1548had just 15 senators on board when it first came up for a vote on Tuesday. That set the Keizer Republican and other supporters on a mission to change a colleague’s mind or find a compromise in the minutes before the Senate adjourned for the day and dashed all hopes for ending the twice-annual clock change.
Several hushed, intense conversations later, Thatcher and Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, D-Portland, had a solution: Instead of trying to have Oregon lead the way on switching to standard time and hoping other West Coast states would catch up, supporters agreed to amend the bill to add a trigger clause clarifying that Oregon would only ditch daylight saving time if and when Washington and California do the same.
...Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, represents a vast section of eastern Oregon including Malheur County, which is on Mountain time and would have ended up two hours ahead of the rest of Oregon if the bill passed as drafted. Findley supported it.
But Sen. Bill Hansell, the Athena Republican who represents northeast Oregon, had the same concerns as Sen. Michael Dembrow, a Democrat who represents north Portland. Hansell said his constituents, many of whom do business in Washington and go to Walla Walla, Washington, for services that aren’t available in smaller eastern Oregon cities, want to make sure they stay in the same zone as Washington.
Dembrow sees the same issue on a larger scale in Portland, where thousands of people commute between Portland and Vancouver or southwest Washington each day.
“What that means is that for two-thirds of the year, Portland will be an hour different from Vancouver and southwest Washington,” he said. “All of those people – there are thousands of people who live in southwest Washington and commute to Oregon, or vice versa, are going to have to change their watches twice every day.”
...Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis, said switching to standard time might make more sense in southern states that don’t see the same swings in daylight hours. Portland is dark for nearly 16 hours a day in December, while the sun is out for more than 15 hours in peak summer. Her constituents and her brother have strong feelings about ending the annual switch, which Gelser Blouin said her brother calls “abuse of clocks.”
Gelser Blouin said she understands arguments for keeping standard time for students who need to get to school safely. The sun has been rising earlier and earlier for the past few weeks, and by March 9, the last day before daylight saving time begins, it’ll rise around 6:30 a.m. The following Monday, the sun won’t rise until 7:30 a.m. But Gelser Blouin said the real problem to fix is early school start times.
“With apologies to my brother, my no vote will once again support ‘abuse of clocks,’” she said.