Bill to establish permanent daylight saving time defeated in Virginia Senate

(The Center Square) – After discussing the measure at length, lawmakers in the state Senate voted to kill a bill seeking to establish permanent Daylight Saving Time in Virginia.

Following debate and discussion that at times prompted laughter in the chamber, lawmakers ultimately voted down Senate Bill 1017, which proposed ending the practice of changing the clocks twice a year, and would keep Virginia on daylight saving time.

The bill’s chief patron, Sen. Richard Stuart, R-King George, said he introduced the bill because he’s “just really tired of changing the clock twice a year.”

“It takes about a month for us to recover every time we change the time, and I just am really not sure why we put ourselves through it,” Stuart told lawmakers Tuesday.

Even if lawmakers had voted to advance the bill, Virginia would not have been able to enact it until Congress passes a law giving the state the authority to do so. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there have been at least 450 bills introduced in recent years to establish year-round daylight saving time as soon as federal law allows it.

Discussion of the topic at the federal level occurred last March when the U.S. Senate advanced a bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. The U.S. House of Representatives, however, did not take up the measure.

Lawmakers in opposition to the measure cited a range of reasons Tuesday, with many voicing concern over whether Virginia would be in a different time zone than neighboring states.

Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, argued the bill would cause a “nightmare of unimaginable proportions” for individuals flying out of airports in the DMV area, while newly sworn-in Sen. Aaron Rouse, D-Virginia Beach, joked Virginia Tech’s Thursday night football games would become “Thursday day” football games if the bill was enacted.

Sen. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, who is an attorney, raised concerns about keeping track of hearing times across Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.

“Would you not agree that this is going to drive administrative people crazy trying to coordinate different time zones in different states that neighbor each other,” Chapman asked.

“Whatever we do we have to standardize with our sister states or otherwise for those of us that are in interstate business, it is going to be an ever-loving nightmare trying to keep track of this,” Chapman later added.

Other Senators noted that the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine support a move to permanent Standard Time – not daylight saving time.

Experts argue year-round standard time “aligns best with human circadian biology” and reduces the health risks that come with daylight saving time. Studies have revealed the transition from standard time to daylight saving time is associated with higher rates of cardiovascular morbidity.

Senators in support of the bill argued the bill would be good for businesses. Sen. David Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County, said he hears from “so many small businesses, especially small retailers that want more hours in the evening to be open.”

States neighboring Virginia have made attempts in recent years to enact legislation establishing year-round daylight saving time. North Carolina lawmakers tried in 2019 and 2021 to pass legislation making daylight saving time permanent, but the bills failed to pass. Similar attempts in Maryland also failed during the 2022 session.

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