Mar 10, 2023 - Politics

Here comes the sun: Daylight saving time returns Sunday

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Seattle may never embrace the twice-a-year clock-changing ritual of daylight saving time (DST) that state legislators voted to do away with four years ago, but we love that extra hour of evening light.

Driving the news: Seattle will see its first post-7pm sunset of the year once DST goes into effect this Sunday.

Why it matters: The switch to DST is more important to Seattle than most other cities where seasonal sunset times change less dramatically, Seattle Weather Blog's Justin Shaw told Axios. During winter — when we get just eight hours of light on our shortest days — many of us leave for work and get home in the dark.

What they're saying: "Once daylight saving arrives, I can suddenly see the faces of neighbors I haven't seen for months," Shaw said. "People have an extra spring in their step. It's a big psychological boost."

State of play: Washington legislators overwhelmingly passed a bill in 2019 to stay on permanent daylight saving time and the governor signed it.

  • But moving to permanent DST, unlike staying on standard time, requires congressional approval.
  • Last year, the U.S. Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act, co-sponsored by Washington Sen. Patty Murray, but a similar resolution stalled in the House.

What they're saying: University of Washington School of Law professor Steve Calandrillo testified in favor of year-round DST before the state legislature as well as Congress. He shared his top reasons with Axios, including:

  • DST saves lives: "Darkness kills and sunshine saves," he said in an email. Driving is more dangerous in the dark with three times the fatality rate of daytime driving.
  • DST prevents crime: Pushing back sunset with permanent DST "removes one hour from the start of criminals’ workday" he said.
  • DST saves energy: That's because people use less energy to heat their homes and businesses when the sun is still out later in the day. This is why the country adopted perennial DST in World War I, World War II, and in 1974 during the OPEC oil crisis.

Of note: There remains plenty of debate, however, about whether daylight saving or standard time is physically better for humans whose circadian rhythms are powerfully affected by light.

What we're watching: Whether the Sunshine Protection Act reintroduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and companion legislation in the House will gain traction this year.

  • Axios' Kelly Tyko reports it's unclear if Congress will take up the legislation again, but both bills have been referred to committees.

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