Over the weekend, clocks sprung forward an hour, creating an extra hour of daylight in the evening. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and Rep. Mike Schofield (R-Katy) filed joint bills that would allow Texans to vote on making that permanent.
Senate Bill (SB) 2329 and House Bill (HB) 417 both state, “This state shall observe daylight saving time year-round. This subsection applies to both the portion of this state using central standard time as the official standard time and the portion of this state using mountain standard time as the official standard time.”
Both bills have companion constitutional amendments, the mechanisms by which a statewide ballot proposition would be triggered. To trigger that election, that amendment must pass both chambers with two-thirds support.
“Texans like me want to be on one time, and the Federal Congress hasn’t given us the option to vote on Daylight Saving Time. SJR 86 gives Texans the opportunity to vote on the issue and express their opinion on the debate once and for all in the Lone Star State,” Bettencourt said in a press release.
Schofield added, “People would like to get home from work and play with their kids without it being dark half the time. There’s no reason not to fix this.”
Last session, the preference of lawmakers pushing the issue, such as Bettencourt, appeared to be eliminating Daylight Saving Time, a move that would have scrapped the jump forward in the spring. Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) proposed one version that would have allowed voters to pick which they preferred, DST or standard time.
Despite the shift in preference, the desire is clear to pick one and stick with it.
While there’s been a lot of discussion about eliminating the change in Congress, the federal body hasn’t yet taken any nationwide action. In recent days, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) re-filed the “Sunshine Protection Act” — a full-time, nationwide adoption of DST — which passed the Senate unanimously last year but did not advance in the House.
Other states have passed legislation to adopt DST permanently contingent upon Congress doing the same; federal law requires congressional action first before states adopt DST full-time.
States may make standard time permanent, however, without Congressional permission. Arizona and Hawaii, along with a few U.S. protectorates and territories, do not adhere to DST.
The arguments for and against vary: opponents of a DST adoption, including Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Brownsville) in 2021, state that the darker spring morning “causes accidents, reduces productivity, and creates health risks.” Proponents state that the extra hour of daylight in the evening reduces energy use, about 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours per day, according to a 2008 Department of Energy study.
None of the 2021 proposals in the Senate were given a hearing in the State Affairs Committee. The various House proposals met the same fate in the lower chambers State Affairs Committee.
Bettencourt and Schofield’s proposals state that barring a court ruling otherwise, the switch to DST would become effective upon permission from Congress through its own legislation.
Zaffirini has also filed a proposal to give voters a choice between adopting standard time or DST permanently.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.