Sunday, February 25, 2024

Some Virginia Lawmakers Say it’s Time to Eliminate Daylight Saving Time

The Rotunda Clock by John Flanagan, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol.)

RICHMOND — The sense of dread that so often accompanies Mondays could feel slightly more bearable for some next week as Virginians gain another hour of sleep this Sunday from daylight saving time. (Of course, that extra rest comes at the cost of darker nights for the next four months.)

If some lawmakers had their way, the tradition would have ended in Virginia years ago because of its disruptive and impractical nature.

The latest attempt to eliminate daylight saving time in the commonwealth came from Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Westmoreland, whose bill narrowly died on the Senate floor this January.

“If you can tell time, I think we’re gonna be just fine,” Stuart said. “We’re gonna get an extra hour in the evening when you come home from work. That way we don’t have to go to work in the dark, come home in the dark and it’s medically proven that we need to stop changing the time.”

While several lawmakers have agreed the elimination of daylight saving time could help businesses and improve health quality, opponents have voiced concerns it could cause chaos if surrounding states don’t adopt similar changes.

Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, told the Senate that “whatever we do, we need to standardize with our sister states, or otherwise those of us who are in interstate business, it’s going to be an ever-loving nightmare trying to keep track of this.”

Numerous efforts from other passionate daylight saving opposers like Dels. Joe McNamara, R-Roanoke, and Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, have continued to be rejected by the General Assembly.

Each year since 2021, McNamara has introduced legislation asking Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick to study the effects of shifting toward daylight saving time year-round in Virginia.

This January, McNamara told the House Rules Subcommittee that if the federal Sunshine Protection Act — which makes daylight saving time the new, permanent standard time — passes, his legislation would make it easier for Virginia to switch to DST. That change would transform the clock that is in place during summer months into the all-time clock.

Freitas introduced bills similar to Stuart’s in 2018 and 2022 to put an end to daylight saving time altogether. Last year, he told the House General Laws Subcommittee that his bill eliminating the practice was inspired by his wife, who was upset with him when she had to wake up their kids after daylight saving time.

“I don’t think the commonwealth of Virginia should be taking marching orders from the federal government with respect to our clocks,” Freitas said.

Daylight saving time’s origins date back to World War I, when European states sought strategies to conserve fuel.

Virginia still remains committed to the annual practice of setting clocks forward one hour on the second Sunday of March and then moving clocks back one hour on the first Sunday in November.

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