Why Daylight Saving Time Started Again in California

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Californians (and most of the rest of the country) moved their clocks one hour forward, starting eight months of daylight saving time. The change means we get to experience more daylight later in the day, but the sudden hour of lost sleep can be jarring for some people — and can even increase health risks, experts say.

Didn’t Californians vote on this issue? Yes, sort of, but it isn’t quite that simple.

In November 2018, voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 7. But the measure only allowed the Legislature to change daylight saving time, either by establishing it year-round or abolishing it.

A change still requires a two-thirds majority of both the state Assembly and Senate and the governor’s signature. Permanently keeping daylight saving time also requires congressional action — and that hasn’t happened.

California doesn’t have to wait on Congress to use standard time, which is what Hawaii and most of Arizona do.

So this year Republican Sen. Roger Niello of Roseville introduced legislation to do away with daylight saving time for good and establish standard time year-round. (Westminster Republican Tri Ta is carrying a twin bill in the Assembly.)

Arguing that standard time makes “the most sense,” Niello says his bill has the backing of the California Medical Association. A large portion of the medical and sleep expert communities also agree that standard time coincides better with people’s natural clocks.

In its analysis of Prop. 7, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said continuing to switch between time standards potentially affected “worker productivity and the number of accidents.”

But California lawmakers can’t quite agree what standard we should stick with. In 2021, then-Assemblymember Steven Choi proposed a measure to make daylight saving time permanent (which, again, would still be contingent on changing federal law). The bill died before it reached the Senate.

Even now with Niello’s bill, other lawmakers expressed their preference for year-round daylight saving time — not standard time.

Niello, however, says that last fall, lawmakers from Oregon and Washington reached out to him about making standard time permanent, saying that it would be a “good idea” for the West Coast to align their clocks. There are also similar bills in Idaho and Utah.

And while Niello recognizes that not everybody shares his preference for standard time, at least more could agree with doing away with changing clocks altogether.

“I have become increasingly tired of making the switch myself on a personal basis,” he said.

Lynn La is a reporter with CalMatters.

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