It’s like Groundhog Day all over again as a Georgia legislator is once more trying to sell his colleagues on the idea that daylight saving time should last year-round.
Rep. Wes Cantrell said he’s hopeful there is enough momentum to get his bill and supporting federal legislation passed this year now that more than 10 states, including neighboring South Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida have laws calling for an end to changing clocks twice a year. The state-level laws mean little until the U.S. government gets on board with the change.
This is the third year in a row Cantrell has sponsored time-sensitive legislation. While Cantrell pushes for his bills in the House, separate daylight saving time legislation is filed in the Senate. Republican Sen. Ben Watson of Savannah proposes to move Georgia to standard time permanently.
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Last week, the State Planning and Community Affairs Committee signed off on Cantrell’s House Bill 44 and the House Rules Committee could consider it this week. If it clears the Legislature, it would still require congressional approval.
“Not everybody, but most people prefer more daylight at the end of the day, so they get out and recreate and get out and shop,” the Woodstock Republican said Monday. “It’s safer for the commute home and better for our health and the economy.”
Some state lawmakers object to a permanent daylight savings time because it will leave Georgia out of sync with major east coast business centers like Boston and New York. Supporters of the status quo also say the shift better suits a Georgia summer that’s a season friendly to outdoor sports. And, the say an earlier sunrise during the school year is better for students waiting at bus stops.
But Cantrell said the most significant impediment to his bill is from people who say legislators should be spending time on more pressing issues, as happened last year when the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic derailed many legislative initiatives.
State Rep. Derrick Jackson said lawmakers have bigger challenges. And, he said, he is also concerned about the disruption a permanent switch to daylight saving time could have on intricate scheduling systems used by the military and at airports.
“This is not just because some of our citizens in Georgia are adversely impacted because we shift ahead in the spring and fall back in the fall,” the Tyrone Democrat said. “This is something that is far larger than the Georgia General Assembly. I just caution all of us, with a bill such as this, when there’s other work for us to focus on.”
Among the most ardent supporters of a change to the federal law is U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. The GOP senator filed legislation last year to stop the time change set for March 2021 and backed a 2018 bill to make daylight savings time permanent in every state except for Hawaii and Arizona.
Nevertheless, Georgians and almost all of the rest of the country are on track to set their clocks forward an hour March 14 this year and then back an hour on Nov. 7.
Daylight saving time started as an Act of Congress to support the effort to win World War to conserve energy giving people more sunlight during regular working hours.
Cantrell says it’s not worth the continued drawback of throwing body clocks out of whack and cites supportive studies that show the hour’s shift can cause harm.
A 2020 study estimates that the hour time difference leads to more health problems for about 150,000 people in the U.S. dealing with issues ranging from cardiovascular and immune-related diseases, injuries, and mental and behavioral disorders.
And the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Safety Research found the time change leads to more fatal car wrecks.
“I was amazed at how much research has been done on this; something people call a silly topic,” Cantrell said. “People care, and it affects everybody.”
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