Daylight saving or standard time? Question might be on Texas ballot

Texans: Are you ready to stop changing the clocks twice a year?

House members on Wednesday took a step in that direction, giving early approval to a plan that would let Texans leave the clock alone.

“I want to stop changing time twice a year,” state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, told House members. “Let voters choose how they want to chronicle time.”

Larson’s plan would let voters choose in November whether to observe standard time or daylight saving time year round.

But the state doesn’t have the power to switch to daylight saving time, even if voters approve the change. The federal government controls the time zones and the dates of daylight saving time, so the state would have to ask Congress to let states make that choice.

States do, however, have the ability to opt out of daylight saving time.

More than two dozen other states are examining the issue as well, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. California voters approved year-round daylight saving time in November and Florida OK’d it in March 2018.

Texas House members must still give final approval to the measure, and the Senate must sign off on it, before it can head to Gov. Greg Abbott for consideration.

Lawmakers have until the end of their legislative session, May 27, to pass laws.

If Texans choose to stay on standard time, there would be no need to “spring forward” — or move clocks ahead by one hour — next year.

But without daylight saving time, Texans would lose the extra hour of daylight at the end of the day from April to October. Sunrises would be earlier, too: In Fort Worth, the sun would rise before 6 a.m. from April 16 until Aug. 25 and sunsets would be no later than 7:41 p.m. On June 21, the longest day of the year, the sun would rise at 5:21 a.m. and set at 7:40 p.m.

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time has been a standard for 53 years, since President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 signed into law the Uniform Time Act, which created a schedule for states to observe DST from late April through late October.

President George W. Bush extended daylight saving time in 2005, by signing into law a broad energy bill that made DST start in early March and end early November. The law notes that states could opt out of daylight saving time.

Hawaii, most of Arizona (the Indian reservations observe it) and U.S. territories such as American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands do not observe daylight saving time.

For everyone else, daylight saving time started March 10 this year and will end Nov. 3.

State Rep. Ramon Romero, D-Fort Worth, asked state lawmakers to consider the impact that changing times could have on the construction industry that traditionally starts work at 7 a.m.

And state Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, asked lawmakers to think of all the things that changing the time in Texas could impact — TV schedules, sporting events, even airplane schedules.

“If Texas is out of step with ... virtually all the other states, it will impact our daily lives,” Smithee argued.

No more time change?

Larson said state lawmakers have talked about ending daylight saving time more than 20 times during the past five decades and have been unable to come to a decision.

“The whole intent of this bill is to stop changing clocks,” he said. “It’s nonsensical in a modern society that we continue to do that.”

Supporters say daylight saving time is not as useful as it once was and keeping standard time would help kids heading to school in the morning.

Critics say daylight saving time should stay. If there were no daylight saving time, some Texans might lose their favorite part of the year — when it’s light later in the evening.

House Joint Resolution 117 passed by the House earlier this week gives Texans the ability to vote on this issue. House Bill 3784, which still requires final approval by the House, lays out the wording that would be on the ballot.

“The people are going to make a decision on which (time) we are going to choose and then we will all adjust and we won’t have to (change clocks) any more,” Larson said.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.