Oct 30, 2023 - Health

Why Oregon's law to make daylight saving time permanent isn't in effect

Illustration of a sun as a clock with clouds in the sky.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

It's that time of year again. Clocks will need to be reset this weekend, falling back an hour at 2am Sunday.

Why it matters: The time disruption affects our mental and physical health, fueling an ongoing debate about whether to stay year-round on daylight saving time, aka permanent summer time.

Flashback: In 2019, lawmakers in Oregon and Washington passed bills to make daylight saving time permanent. In 2018, voters in California approved a switch, but the measure needed state legislature approval. It died twice in committee.

  • Plus: Any local change still needs approval from Congress.

State of play: In 2018, U.S. Sen. Mark Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced the Sunshine Protection Act to make daylight saving permanent nationwide. It passed the Senate in 2022, but never came up for a vote in the House.

  • In March this year, it was reintroduced in both chambers of Congress but hasn't moved out of committee.

What they're saying: Setting our clocks on permanent summer time would "improve our health, help kids spend a bit more time enjoying outdoor after-school activities, and encourage folks to support local businesses while on a sunny stroll in their communities," U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — a co-sponsor of the bill — said when it was reintroduced this year.

Between the lines: With year-round daylight saving time, afternoon activities would have more light in winter, but mornings would be darker longer.

Yes, but: Sleep experts are against the idea. Permanent daylight saving time would be "terrible for our bodies," clinical psychologist Shelby Harris told CNBC.

  • "A change to permanent standard time is best aligned with human circadian biology" — meaning the pattern of light and darkness best aligns with human activity — "and has the potential to produce beneficial effects for public health and safety," the American Academy of Sleep Medicine wrote in a 2020 position paper.

How it works: According to this interactive tool, under permanent daylight saving time, on June 21 — often the longest day of the year — the sun would rise at 5:23am and set at 9:04pm in Portland.

  • On the shortest day, Dec. 21, sunrise would be at 8:49am and sunset at 5:30pm.
  • This means if you get up at 6am, there are 270 days you would rise before the sun.

The other side: Here's what sunrise and sunset times would be under permanent standard time.

  • On June 21, 4:23am and 8:04pm.
  • On Dec. 21, 7:49am and 4:30pm.
  • That means 6am risers would get up before the sun 186 days of the year.

Be smart: The U.S. has tried permanent daylight saving time to save energy — first during World War II, then during the oil shortage of the 1970s.

  • But the move proved so unpopular in the '70s — despite initial support — that Congress reverted to clock-switching within a year.

Take our survey to tell us which clock you prefer

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the year the Sunshine Protection Act passed the Senate was in 2022 (not 2021).


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Portland.

More Portland stories