OLYMPIA – Washington moved a bit closer to going to year-round daylight saving time as the Senate voted overwhelmingly to ask the federal government for the ability to make the switch.
But despite some supporters’ belief the switch is overwhelmingly popular, voters wouldn’t get a chance to weigh in this November. The bill was sent back to the House for at least one more vote.
Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, said permission from Congress would likely lead to Washington, Oregon and California going to year-round daylight saving, with British Columbia possibly making the switch, too.
“We would all be on the same page and not have gyrating time zones,” Hunt said.
Although the House already voted 89-7 to adopt daylight saving time year-round if Congress gives its approval, the Senate State Government and Operations Committee rewrote some provisions of the bill. It clarified that the state would simply not change its clocks on the first Sunday in November – when the nation goes back to standard time – after states get that approval.
If the House passes the revised bill before the session ends on April 28, it would go to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has described himself as “agnostic” on the issue.
The Senate rejected an amendment to require voters to approve year-round daylight time in the November election.
Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, called a public vote a chance for “democracy to break out again” and contended a strong public vote would send a stronger message to Congress than the votes by 147 legislators. Based on calls, letters and emails to his office, Mullet predicted the referendum would pass by a 2-to-1 margin.
“Let the people speak. See what they want,” said Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, who has proposed bills to keep Washington on a single time zone for three years. Based on his contacts with constituents, he thought it would pass by a 10-to-1 margin.
But Sen. Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim, said the state would have to pay for the referendum.
“That would probably be the most inefficient way to lobby (Congress),” Van De Wege said. The idea was so “wildly popular” there was no need for a referendum, he said.
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