By SAM METZ AP/Report for America
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — At 2 a.m. Sunday, when clocks sprang forward an hour for the start of daylight saving time, Nevada state Sen. Joe Hardy hoped it will be one of the last times residents would have to change their clocks.
He wants to hitch Nevada’s fate to California, which is trying to set the sun on twice-yearly clock changes. Hardy, a Boulder City Republican who works as a physician when not in the Legislature, said research on the health effects of clock changes prompted him to introduce a bill to stop the practice in Nevada.
“When we do that change to spring ahead, it gets our body clock out of sync,” he said, noting research that suggests a correlation between springtime clock changes and heart attacks, strokes and traffic accidents. “And then when you go the other way and fall back, there are studies that show you get more depression and more seasonal affective disorder.”
In 2018, roughly 60% of California voters passed a ballot measure directing the Legislature to consider time changes. After receiving bipartisan support in committees, a bill to put the state on Pacific daylight time permanently stalled before the full Assembly could consider it.
Hardy’s bill was introduced Feb. 25 but has not yet been referred to a Nevada legislative committee. Republican leaders have voiced support for the idea, but Democrats who control the Legislature and decide what bills advance, have not commented on it.
The bill would direct the state to adopt either Pacific Daylight Time or Pacific Standard Time year-round — depending on what California does — to keep time zones standardized throughout the region. Federal law currently allows states such as Arizona and Hawaii to set clocks to standard time permanently but prohibits them from adopting daylight saving time permanently.
Daylight saving time-related proposals are common in statehouses throughout the U.S. More than 350 have been considered since 2015, according to a tally from the National Conference on State Legislatures. The proposals often lose traction because Congress would have to revise the Uniform Time Act to make any changes possible.
Hardy’s bill expands on a resolution Nevada lawmakers sent to Congress in 2015 to let individual states adopt daylight saving time permanently. He said he wants Nevada to add momentum to pushes underway in neighboring states, which he hopes prompt federal action.
Last year, lawmakers in Utah passed a bill to move the state to permanent daylight saving time if granted federal approval as long as four other Western states did the same. Hardy wants to make Nevada one of those states.
Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Wyoming passed similar bills in 2019 and 2020. Efforts are also underway in New Mexico, where the state Senate passed a bill last Friday to let the state adjust its time if there is federal action.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has advocated for daylight saving time since the Florida Legislature passed a bill to make it permanent in 2018, reintroduced the Sunshine Protection Act on Tuesday. An identical bill stalled in the U.S. Senate in 2018 before reaching a vote.
Proponents of permanent daylight saving time point to research that suggests making the sun rise and fall later in the day will reduce medical emergencies, traffic accidents and household electricity consumption. They say an extra hour of daylight in the evening could benefit businesses such as restaurants and provide students with more opportunities to engage in outdoor after-school activities.
Sam Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.