By Madeline Coats, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
OLYMPIA — Washington residents could vote to make daylight saving time year-round under a bill state senators passed on March 12.
Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5139 was approved in a 46-3 vote, just two days after clocks were set forward. The measure is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of five senators and was introduced by Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside. This is the third year in a row Honeyford has pitched the daylight saving bill.
“With the time change, we find there’s more auto accidents, more heart attacks, more strokes and children don’t do as well on tests in school,” Honeyford said.
According to the proposed legislation, research has shown that changing between standard time and daylight saving time has negative effects on public health, agriculture, economic growth and crime. Scientific studies indicate a number of health consequences as a result of the time switch, including increased suicide rates and more frequent workplace injuries, according to the bill.
ESSB 5139 includes a referendum for the residents of Washington state to vote on the adoption or rejection of year-round daylight saving time at the next general election in November 2019.
The bill requires approval from U.S. Congress to amend federal laws allowing states to remain on daylight saving time. President Donald Trump voiced his support for the idea on Monday, tweeting: “Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K. with me!”
In an attempt to create more consistency, California, Oregon and Idaho are also working on legislation to eliminate the semiannual time change.
Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, spoke in support of the bill, saying that the measure sends a powerful message to the federal government to take the issue seriously.
“I think the important piece about the referendum clause is we’re sending a message to Washington, D.C., about what the residents of Washington state think about the option of going to permanent daylight savings time,” he said.
Substitute House Bill 1196 was passed by the House of Representatives in a 89-7 vote on March 9. The legislation allows the state to follow Pacific Daylight Time throughout the year, should federal law change.
The House and Senate will now work toward a compromise on differences between the two bills.