Oregon Public Hearing Held To Stay On Standard Time Or ‘Ditch The Switch’

Oregon lawmakers held a round of public hearings on Tuesday to hear from both sides on a bill that seeks to keep most of the state on Standard Time all year round.

The bill (SB 1548), passed in 2019 was signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown, but Congress has the ultimate say over it. Applying to the section of the state in the Pacific Time Zone, the bill does not include the small part of the state on Mountain Time in eastern Oregon.

One of the sponsors of the bill- Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, is a chief sponsor of this year’s bill. She indicated that the idea behind the 2019 bill was to form a coalition of states that would support a permanent move to daylight saving time, arguing for the switch in a unified voice in Washington. When one member- California, failed to pass its Daylight Saving Time (DST) bill, the coalition fell apart.

An informational hearing was held last week on the bill. Invited speakers all supported the bill and the senators on the Committee on Veterans, Emergency Management, Federal and World Affairs then also held a public hearing on Tuesday at the Capitol in Salem.

Thatcher said that they could still give some thought to the bill if people still want to think about Daylight Time. In last week’s hearing, she said that it was uncertain if and when that would ever happen, but they will consider it if it does. For now, Thatcher believes that because it doesn’t require an act of Congress and because she thinks that this can be counted on to happen any time soon, they could just decide to ditch the switch.

President of the nonprofit based in Arizona, Save Standard Time, Jay Pea says that we pretend to be in an entirely different time zone for DST, but it creates many problems with health and safety. Many other speakers at the hearing argued in favor of year-round Standard Time, focusing on the disruptions to sleep patterns and the consequences of the disruptions when the state jumps forward an hour and then falls back again to accommodate daylight saving time. Those in support said that research bolstered their argument.

A teaching assistant professor of psychology at Portland State University- Bill Griesar, indicated that they know from experience that our ability to sleep well is profoundly impacted by exposure to light. Permanent Standard Time is the best alignment with the natural circadian rhythms of our bodies and brains. This allows us to wake up on more days in the year in sunlight.

Written testimony in support and opposition to the bill was submitted by some people. Several people who wrote in opposition indicated that they would miss the extra daylight gained in the summer months during DST. In support of the bill, Steve P. Calandrillo, a professor of law at the University of Washington, like others, argued that year-round daylight saving time would save lives, save energy, decrease crime, and also have other benefits.

Calandrillo said that research has shown again and again that sunlight is far more important to health, efficiency, and safety in the early evening than in the early morning. He doesn’t deny that there are downsides to DST, such as an extra hour of morning darkness. He said, “When all of the costs and benefits are balanced, the advantages of extended DST on net far outweigh those of standard time.”

Senate Bill 1548 has support on both sides of the political aisle. If passed into law, it will allow the state to take advantage of a clause in federal law allowing it to be exempt from switching to and from daylight saving time.

More information will be released in due course.

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