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Washington looks for ‘alternative’ paths to end years-long wait for permanent Daylight Saving Time

OLYMPIA, Wash. — This last March, Washington Sen. Patty Murray expressed her intention to make that the last time the state’s residents would have to set their clocks forward for Daylight Saving Time. With the state setting their clocks back again on Nov. 7, she says her office is ramping up work to end the twice-yearly time changes once and for all.

Washington has been stuck in a holding pattern since 2019, when legislators passed a bill to keep the state in Daylight Saving Time permanently. In order for the bill to take effect, the state still needs a federal waiver from Congress, which has been slow to arrive in the two-plus years since Gov. Jay Inslee signed it into law.

Speaking to MyNorthwest, Sen. Murray described a few potential pathways for the state moving forward, in hopes of finally speeding the process along.

“In addition to being the overwhelming will of the people of Washington state, it’s been shown that making Daylight Saving Time permanent would improve the safety, health, and wellbeing of our families, and boost our economy, so this is absolutely something we should get done — yesterday — and I’m very focused on it,” she told MyNorthwest.

The first option is a yet-to-be-passed Senate bill co-sponsored by her and Florida Senator Marco Rubio known as the Sunshine Protection Act.

In practice, the bill would keep the entire country in Daylight Saving Time. But with the attention of Congress focused on the pandemic over the last year and a half — as well as the impending infrastructure package — it’s had yet to move past introduction in the Senate. This year marks the second time it will have been reintroduced since it was first proposed.

The second option would be the aforementioned federal waiver from Congress for Washington state’s 2019 Daylight Saving Time legislation. But with that not appearing to be imminent, Sen. Murray says that her office is also working with the Biden administration “to explore alternative pathways under executive/administrative authority.”

“If the administration (specifically the Department of Transportation) believes it can provide a workaround to states that have passed laws to enact permanent DST — such as allowing them to shift between time zones depending on the time of year to effectively make DST permanent in the state — that presents an additional route to ensuring the people of Washington state are able to enjoy DST year round,” a spokesperson for her office described.

“Senator Murray is vigorously pursuing both the legislative and executive paths to getting this done,” he added.

Proponents of permanent Daylight Saving Time have pointed to a series of benefits, including reduced crime rates, fewer vehicular accidents, and better overall health. That’s seen at least 15 states passing similar Daylight Saving Time laws over the last two years.

Other states and territories that currently observe Daylight Saving Time year-round include American Samoa, Guam, the Minor Outlying Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Both Hawaii and Arizona (with the exception of tribal lands) observe standard time year-round.

This story was originally published on MyNorthwest.com.