The clock is ticking. And the fate of daylight saving time observance in Georgia relies heavily on the status of two bills floating in the General Assembly.
Senate Bill 100, a measure that would end the state’s observance of daylight saving time, passed on bipartisan lines via a 46-7 vote last week. Senators from Forsyth and Hall counties voted in favor.
State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, is one of 15 bipartisan sponsors of the bill.
SB 100 still needs to be passed by the House and signed by Gov. Brian Kemp before it would take effect. It is unlikely that those steps will be completed before daylight saving begins March 14.
According to the bill, if passed and signed by the governor before the transition to daylight saving time, the permanent switch to standard time will be effective immediately. If passed after the March 14 transition, the bill takes effect when daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. on Nov. 7.
If SB 100 is enacted, Georgia would be the third state to permanently adopt standard time, joining Arizona and Hawaii.
United States territories such as American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands also do not observe daylight saving time.
Sponsors of SB 100 say that permanently banning daylight saving time benefits public health and would prevent disruption in sleep cycles and cardiovascular stressors.
“There is a growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating that these annual time shifts are bad for our health, disruptive to sleep cycles, and related to a higher immediate risk of heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrhythmia, and even car accidents,” said anesthesiologist and state Sen. Michelle Au, D-Johns Creek, in a statement. “Furthermore, a majority of Americans agree that they want to do away with this tradition of ‘springing forward’ and ‘falling back’.”’
A former co-sponsor of the bill, Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain, voted against the measure and said the bill would plunge Georgians into “eight months of darkness” in a recent CNN appearance.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, one of the largest scientific organizations that conduct sleep studies, are also proponents of a permanent move to year-round fixed time, stating that standard time aligns better with the “natural rhythm of the human body.”
Those in the Forsyth and Hall County delegations approved, with the exception of Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville.
District 22 state Rep. Wes Cantrell was one of the sponsors for HB 44.
On the federal level, two bills have been introduced in Congress recently that call for daylight saving time to become permanent.
The Sunshine Protection Act and the Daylight Act have floated through the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, but they have stalled there.According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states have enacted legislation in the last three years to provide year-round daylight saving time.
An act of Congress is required to allow the change, due to federal law.