UMATILLA COUNTY — Oregon passed a law earlier this year that would abolish the clock changes, but Oregonians will still be in the business of “falling back” one hour to standard time or “winter hours” on Nov. 3.
“The short answer is, nothing changes in 2019,” Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer, a chief sponsor of the law, wrote in an email.
Senate Bill 320, would stop the whole state — except for Malheur County, which is in the Mountain Time Zone — from rewinding clocks by an hour in the fall. Instead, the state would maintain Daylight Saving Time or “summer hours” full time. The result would mean both later sunrises and sunsets. Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill into law in June.
The law mandates, however, that this change will only go into effect if California and Washington also choose to stick to summer hours, and if all three states receive federal congressional approval.
During the first November after federal approval, Oregon would simply not participate in the clock change, keeping summer hours.
Washington is on board and currently awaiting federal approval, according to the Seattle Times. But in California, the legislation only passed through the House and will be reintroduced in 2020.
“California’s House passed it overwhelmingly, but now we have word that the Senate is putting it off until next year,” Post said. “So we wait.”
Federal approval is not required for a state to switch permanently to standard time, but it is to make the switch to Daylight Saving Time, which is why Post and other legislators addressed a Senate Joint Memorial to the president and the U.S. Congress urging them to pass the law back in June.
Oregon Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, voted no on the law during the 2019 Legislature.
“I feel somewhat agnostic about Daylight Saving Time. But I really felt that that the decision should be left up to the people, since it was their vote that originally brought it into law,” Hansell said.
And while he said he sees both sides of the clock-change debate, Hansell is sure of one thing.
“What’s positive to me is that we’ll all be on the same sheet of music. (The West Coast) will be on the same time schedule,” he said.
For or against the switch, arguments vary. The measure summary for SB 320 stated that clock changes cost the country millions of dollars each year in cardiac arrests, workplace injuries and car accidents associated with the time change.
It stated that 26 states had also introduced measures that would do away with clock changes.
During Oregon’s legislative session, everyone from farmers to software developers gave testimony regarding the matter.
Farmer and parent Brenda Frietsch from St. Paul wrote legislators in March, claiming that later sunrises would not only make it more difficult for her farm workers to put in hours during the winter, but that dark mornings could deter children from wanting to ride the bus.
“This is going to be a concern for a lot of parents but particularly in rural areas where bus rides are a lot longer and a lot earlier to get to school on time,” she stated.
British Columbia announced during the summer that if the U.S. West Coast did make the change, the province would follow suit, which brought testimony from many industries and stakeholders.
A ski resort argued that morning daylight was invaluable to skiers, while a golf company stated that an extra hour of evening light would provide more play time for golfers. The Rabbinical Council of America wrote Premier of B.C. Josh Horgan to say that a permanent switch to daylight saving time would interfere with Jewish daily prayer.
Megan Olsen, owner and operator of Big River Golf Course, said she’s not sure that the November clock change affects her business.
“Year-round we still have golfers out here. Time is limited for the after-work crowd,” Olsen said. “Obviously, shorter days means less time to play, but I don’t think we see a big drop-off after daylight savings.”