If the federal government permits it

California’s Proposition 7, on the November ballot, proposes to “support” the Legislature in passing a law to make Daylight Saving Time year-round in California. At this time, there are no states with year-round daylight savings, although the state of Florida made a formal request to the federal government in March of this year.

Currently, the federal government, according the Uniform Time Act, allows only two options: adopt DST between the second Sunday of March and the first Sunday in November; or remain on standard time all year.

And, to enact this proposition, should the federal government so authorize, existing Prop 12 (1949) would have to be repealed. Prop 12, known as the Daylight Saving Time Act, established DST from the last Sunday in April until the last Sunday in September. In 1962, Prop 6 extended the period for a month through the last Sunday in October.

If voters approve Prop 7, DST provisions contained in section 6807 of the California Government Code could be struck and, with a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, new language would be added to the code that states: “If federal law authorizes the state to provide for the year-round application of daylight saving time and the Legislature considers the adoption of this application, it is the intent of this act to ‘encourage’ [emphasis added] the Legislature to consider the potential impacts of year-round daylight saving time on the communities along the border between California and other states and between California and Mexico.” The Mexican state of Sonora borders California, as does the U.S. state of Arizona, neither of which observe DST.

There have been periods in U.S. history when DST was year-round: during WW II from 1942 to 1945 (as an energy-saving measure). U.S. farmers opposed the change.

In 1973, President Nixon signed legislation to enact permanent DST for 16 months in response to an OPEC-backed oil embargo. The change was reversed after only 11 months over concern that schoolchildren were commuting to school in the dark.

Proponents argue that DST interferes with overall citizen health, noting that medical studies have found that heart attacks increase 10 percent in the “two days” following a time change; that stroke risks increase by 8 percent; for cancer patients, the risk from DST changes increases strokes by 25 percent; and for people over age 65, stroke risk increases by 20 percent, all from changing the clocks. Proponents also note the energy savings that might result from year-round DST.

Opponents argue it makes no sense to fix something that is not broken, that full-time DST has been opposed by parents of schoolchildren in the past, and that farmers have long opposed similar measures.

Importantly, passing the measure is simply an advisory instruction to the Legislature to “consider” the salutary effects of year-round DST. Even more importantly, the measure can do nothing to change federal law, which does not authorize year-round DST at this time.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office posits: “This measure has no direct fiscal effect because changes to daylight saving time would depend on future actions by the Legislature and potentially the federal government.”

The measure, a “legislatively referred state statute,” found its way to the ballot with primary support from Democrats in the Senate and Assembly, and signature by Gov. Jerry Brown.

No ballot measure committees are registered either in support or in opposition.

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