BP Drawing by Sam Rubanowitz
No more ‘fall back’? Prop 7 would promote Daylight Saving Time year-round
In winter, Shabbat would end later; students would arrive at school in the dark
Last night at 2 a.m., California and 47 other states turned back their clocks one hour, returning to Standard Time after almost eight months of Daylight Saving Time (DST).
Five months from now, on the second Sunday in March, residents of the same 48 states will turn their clocks an hour forward, beginning another seven-and-a-half-month period of Daylight Saving Time.
The California State Legislature wants to put an end to these back-and-forth changes, and instead, keep the state on Daylight Saving Time for good.
Because of the way state and federal laws are written now, legislative approval in California is not enough to make this happen. Instead, the first step in keeping Daylight Saving Time all year long would be passing this year’s Proposition 7, the Permanent Daylight Saving Time Measure, which will appear on Tuesday’s ballot.
At the moment, federal law allows states to choose from two options: enact a DST period between the second Sunday of March and the first Sunday in November, or opt out of the seasonal time changes and choose to stay on Standard Time year-round, as Arizona and Hawaii have done. It does not, however allow states to choose to stay on DST year-round.
So in order for the Legislature to institute DST all year, federal law would have to be changed as well.
California Assembly members Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) co-wrote Assembly Bill 807, the bill on which Prop 7 is based.
“Biannual time changes contribute to an increase in heart attacks, strokes, deadly vehicle accidents, and workplace accidents,” wrote Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher in an email response to questions from the Boiling Point.
“Ending time changes or switching to year-round DST will get rid of the outsized negative impact on public safety in California.”
Proponents of Proposition 7 also argue that the clock changes cause higher energy consumption — though Daylight Saving Time was instituted partly to save electricity, by having people asleep during the parts of the morning when it’s dark — and interrupt sleep patterns, especially for sleep-sensitive children.
The Los Angeles Times has endorsed Prop. 7.
“Studies have found that this semi-annual time shift disrupts the human circadian cycle,” leading to various health problems, the paper wrote in an editorial backing the measure.
There’s also a religious angle: Prop. 7 would make Shabbat start and end later all year, instead of just during the warmer months. Mincha — afternoon prayers — would be an hour later too.
“I like it when [Mincha] is later because it doesn’t kind of hit your day in the middle,” said Rabbi David Block, Assistant Principal for Judaic Studies. “Right now on a Sunday, for example, if you’re out with the family or whatever it is, you have to stop and daven Mincha in the winter months much earlier than you would have to otherwise.”
Also, Shabbat starts and ends later on Daylight Saving Time. Rabbi Block said although there are advantages to Shabbat ending early, giving time for various activities on Saturday night, he enjoys when it ends later.
“I think it’s really nice to have like an extra hour for shalosh seudos,” — Shabbat’s third meal — “an extra hour to kind of be with family,” Rabbi Block said. “Shabbos is a pretty special time and we only get it for one day a week. And to have it a little bit longer — to have a little bit more time off of your phone, away from distraction to spend it with friends and family — I think that’s a really valuable, valuable thing.”
Another way Shalhevet students would experience year-round Daylight Saving Time would be in their commutes. There would be times of year when sunrise would occur just before 8 a.m.
Opponents of the measure believe this would lead to more car and pedestrian accidents, since more of these occur in the dark than in the light. On Standard Time, Los Angeles sunrise is never later than 7.
The San Jose Mercury News opposes Prop 7, largely because of this later sunrise. In a phone interview with the Boiling Point, Mercury News Editorial Page Editor Ed Clendaniel explained why.
“Proposition 7 would mean that students in schools would have to walk to school at night during when it’s dark, and that’s very dangerous,” Mr. Clendaniel said.
“National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 20 percent of the total number of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes are children up to 14 years old – 20 percent,” said Mr. Clendaniel.
“And that 70 percent of all pedestrians killed in traffic accidents occur when it’s dark,” he continued. “We just can’t ignore those numbers. I mean, I’m a parent myself and there’s few things that are more important to parents than the safety of their children, and the idea of sending children to school in the dark is just a bad idea.
“There’s always unintended consequences for propositions like this that people don’t think about,” he added.
California’s current system is also based on a proposition – Proposition 12 of 1949, also known as the Daylight Saving Time Act, which established a DST period even before it was put into federal law across the country in 1966.
But Prop 12 prevents the California legislature from making any changes to the state’s Daylight Saving period. This is where Prop 7 comes in: if voted in this week, it will repeal Prop 12, restoring power to the Legislature and giving it “the ability to choose either time year-round,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher wrote.
“The State Legislature will then decide if California will have either standard time or daylight savings time all year round.”
If the Legislature chooses to put California on Standard Time all year, the process would be simple, requiring only a two-thirds vote to make the change. If it wants to put California on year-round DST, however, it would require federal approval.
Ms. Gonzalez Fletcher wrote that the Legislature would then “petition the federal government to allow this change.”
“The biggest challenge I foresee is that the federal government has to approve this change,” she wrote. “We are planning on working closely with our allies and across the aisle to get this done.”
Year-round Daylight Saving Time would mean that even during the winter months, the clocks would remain an hour ahead as they are the rest of the year, instead of being timed so that 12 noon is the halfway point between sunrise and sunset.
With year-round DST, the sun would rise at an hour later than on Standard Time, every day.
At Shalhevet, Dr. William Walton, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Math department chair, is against the biannual time changes.
“It would just be great if they either decided for daylight savings time all year round, or no daylight savings time all year round, and stop changing the clocks,” Dr. Walton said. “Doesn’t matter to me, but just pick one, and go with it.”
Front desk receptionist Daniella Silva worried that year-round DST would make travel times confusing.
“We’re gonna be out of sync with the rest of the country,” said Ms. Silva. “The entire country’s gonna be on one set of time and we’re gonna be on our own little set of time.
“I’m just worried about how we’re going to end up calculating airport times, train times, if people choose to travel, how will they be able to kind of figure things out.”
Noah Hertzberg, a Shalhevet Junior who lives in the San Fernando Valley, says that even though he’d be waking up and going to school in the dark, he has “zero opinion” on the possible switch to year-round DST.
“I don’t care, it doesn’t affect me,” said Noah. “If you wake up in the dark, then you wake up in the dark.”
Election day is this Tuesday, Nov. 6. Polls open at 7 a.m.– when it’s already light — and close at 8 p.m, a bit more than three hours after sunset.