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).

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