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NC Lawmakers: Making Daylight Saving Permanent Still Timely

Sonja Langford

RALEIGH — Many North Carolina legislators say it's still the right time to seek making daylight saving time permanent in the state, advancing a House measure Tuesday to move clocks up an hour for good if Congress allows it.

A House committee voted unanimously for a measure like one that passed the chamber by a comfortable margin two years ago but idled in the Senate.

The legislation would end the twice-annual time shift — moving ahead an hour in mid-March and falling back an hour to standard time in early November — but only if Congress passes a federal law allowing states to observe daylight saving year-round. Such legislation has been filed on Capitol Hill. Currently states may opt out of observing daylight saving time. Hawaii and most of Arizona don't currently participate.

Fifteen states, including South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, have passed laws or a resolution over the past four years seeking to move to year-round daylight saving time, according to datafrom the National Conference of State Legislatures. Dozens of bills on daylight saving time have been filed this year in at least 28 states, NCSL says.

Moving the time up an hour for good would mean more time for outdoor evening activities for adults and their children, said Rep. Jon Hardister, a Guilford County Republican and bill sponsor. The U.S. Department of Transportation said daylight saving time also saves energy and prevents traffic injuries.

“I think the real issue here is quality of life,” Hardister said. Without daylight saving time, he added, too often “the sun is down by the time you get off work. It’s kind of hard to get out there and walk the dog and for the kids to go to the playground.”

But a permanent shift would mean more children are getting ready for school and adults going to work in the dark. That was mentioned by Save Standard Time, a California-based nonprofit opposing the bill. The group wrote committee members that it would be better that North Carolina support making standard time permanent, saying it would preserve morning sunlight and improve sleep habits.

The bill must clear two more House committees to get a floor vote. Rep. Jason Saine, a Lincoln County Republican and a sponsor of the current House bill and the 2019 measure, said the introduction of an identical bill in the Senate this year bodes well that the legislation will get heard in that chamber as well.

Saine said people tend to grumble about making the switch from daylight saving to standard time and back again, in part because it upsets their body clocks.

“I’m very, very foggy for about two weeks after the change,” he said.