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Senate OKs bill to give Georgia voters say in daylight saving time

By Elaine Owen, Editor

Georgia residents could soon get to vote on whether to keep changing their clocks twice a year for daylight saving time under a bill that unanimously passed the state Senate on Monday (March 2).

The bill, which passed 53-0, would add a nonbinding referendum question to ballots during this year’s November general election.

Voters would be asked if the state should keep things as they are today, switch to yearround standard time or switch to year-round daylight saving time.

The outcome of the nonbinding vote would not result in any immediate change, but would be used to draft future legislation.

State Sen. Bill Heath, a Republican from Bremen who co-sponsored Senate Bill 351, said he was struck by studies that suggest the annual time change could have a negative effect on people’s health.

A mirror piece of legislation in the state House has not yet made it through committee.

Permanently moving to daylight saving time would require approval from Congress.

BACKGROUND

Daylight Saving Time (DST), sometimes referred to as “daylight savings,” begins on the second Sunday in March.

That means you should have moved your clocks ahead one hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 8, 2020 and we “lost” an hour of sleep as we sprang forward.

Daylight saving time will end on the first Sunday of November, which is Nov. 1 this year. That’s when we “fall back,” or turn the clocks back one hour and “gain” that hour of sleep back.

Daylight Saving Time was first established during World War I to conserve fuel for war industries. The law was repealed after WWI ended, but was re-established by Congress during World War II due to energy consumption and became U.S. law in 1966 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act, establishing uniform start and end times within standard time zones.

The policy, regulated by the Department of Transportation, aims to save energy, reduce traffic fatalities, and reduce crime.

However, not all states observe DST. Arizona and Hawaii do not participate in Daylight Saving Time, and Florida is awaiting federal approval to do the same; at least four similar bills have been introduced in the New York state legislature as well.

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