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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Oregon plan to ditch daylight saving time moves forward with key changes

Mount Hood is seen at sunset from the West Hills in Portland on Nov. 21, 2023.   (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian)
By Jamie Goldberg Oregonian

The Oregon Senate will again vote whether to permanently move the state to standard time, ending twice-yearly time changes, after a legislative committee advanced an amended bill Tuesday.

Unlike the previous version of Senate Bill 1548, which was narrowly defeated, the new version would take effect only if California and Washington approve similar measures, ensuring that the entire West Coast remains on the same clock.

If California and Washington don’t ditch daylight saving time by March 2034, the Oregon bill would be repealed. Both other states considered bills this session to adopt permanent standard time, but the Washington bill died and the effort in California appears stalled.

A version of the Oregon bill without the neighboring states trigger failed in the Senate last week.

The Senate Rules Committee then added the neighboring states provision on a 4-1 vote, with only Republican Sen. Tim Knopp of Bend voting “no.”

Sen. Bill Hansell, a Republican from Athena whose district borders Washington, explained why the new provision changed his stance. “My issue with it was that there was no trigger and we’d possibly be all out by ourselves in two years,” Hansell said. “My concern was that my whole northern border of my district borders Washington and every community, including where I live in Umatilla County, that does business with Washington, and there’s a lot of it in my area where I live, would have been an hour different from Washington. With the trigger … I will be a ‘yes’ vote on the floor.”

Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, a Portland Democrat who chairs the committee, and Sen. James Manning, a Democrat from Eugene, also voted to advance the bill, but both declined to commit to voting “yes” on the proposal on the Senate floor, citing concerns with passing a bill that might not go into effect for years.

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, a Democrat and chief sponsor of the bill, said there would be nothing to prevent future incarnations of the Legislature from reversing what lawmakers do this year and called the bill a “reasonable middle ground.” She touted the health benefits of dropping daylight saving time.

“While I appreciate the concern about the loss of daylight hours in the evening in the summer, I also really appreciate the importance of the circadian rhythm in the winter and getting people up on time,” said Steiner, who is a doctor and medical school professor. “Having the same time year round is critically important to people’s health.”

If Oregon were to pass the bill, it would be only the third state to do so. Hawaii and Arizona are already on permanent standard time.

The Oregon Legislature passed permanent daylight saving time in 2019, but that effort requires an act of Congress and has effectively stalled. Advocacy groups also pushed back on the idea of a permanent daylight saving time, pointing out that in the past switches to that time were unpopular and increased a variety of problems, including deaths of children who were hit by vehicles walking to school in the dark.

A change to permanent standard time – as the current bill proposes – requires no congressional involvement.

Regardless of what happens with the bill, this year, daylight saving time will begin 2 a.m. on March 10.