Texas House votes for permanent daylight saving time, Congress denies.
The debate over daylight saving time has resurfaced in Texas as the state’s House of Representatives has voted 136-5 in favour of a bill to end the practice of changing clocks twice annually. The measure, House Bill 1422, proposed by Republican representative Will Metcalf, seeks to keep the state on daylight-saving time throughout the year and would eliminate the transition between daylight saving and standard time. The House’s approval of the bill, however, is just the first stage of a lengthy process needing passage by the Senate and governor and eventually by the US Congress. Even if signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott, the federal government would still have to approve Texas’ unorthodox time-keeping approach.
According to Metcalf, the practice of changing time twice annually is an outdated concept that requires retiring. “The antiquated practice of ‘springing forward’ and ‘falling back’ – changing our clocks twice a year – is frustrating to many Texans,” he said immediately before the vote. “I believe we should stick to a time without switching twice a year.” Texas’ proposed bill is not unique, as 19 states have authorised or proposed legislation aimed at instituting year-round daylight saving time.
Supporters of the bill contend that the current time protocol, implemented to reduce energy use and increase evening recreation time, is ineffective and disadvantages workers by making it too dark to perform outdoor activities during the winter evenings. Advocates for standardising time across the United States argue that ending the practice of changing time will result in lost productivity, problems with transportation scheduling and communication, and even increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Additionally, should the legislative move succeed, Texas would become the first state to defy traffic safety experts who warn about the dangers of driving in the dark. The idea of daylight time year-round is rejected by the US Department of Transportation. However, state laws may allow states to keep permanent day-saving time, but they do not currently hold the authority to adopt daylight-saving time year-round without federal consent.
Yet, the passage of the present legislation remains far from certain. With 18 bills filed this year on Texas’ time and daylight saving, the situation remains fluid, with some proposals similar to HB 1422 and others allowing voters to determine the best course of action. Therefore, the initiative has a long way to go before changes in the state’s time-keeping practices become law.
Finally, according to research group National Conference of State Legislatures, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and most of Arizona do not observe daylight saving time. Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida recently introduced a federal bill seeking to authorise the observance of day-saving time throughout the United States. “This ritual of changing time twice a year is stupid,” Rubio stated. “Locking the clock has overwhelming bipartisan and popular support.”