House joins effort to put Georgia on daylight time for good

ATLANTA – Georgia representatives are joining senators in an effort to stop the twice-annual change between standard time and daylight saving time.

Representatives voted 112-48 on Friday for House Bill 44, which would call for Georgia to permanently switch to daylight saving time if the U.S. Congress authorizes it. Permanent adoption of daylight saving time would mean another hour of light on winter evenings, but a sunrise that would come after 8 a.m. in Georgia on the shortest days.

“We can only move to daylight saving time permanently with congressional approval,” said Rep. Wes Cantrell, the Woodstock Republican sponsoring the bill.

Approval from Congress won’t come quickly, if at all.

The Florida Legislature passed a bill putting the state permanently on daylight saving time in 2018 and then Gov. Rick Scott signed it. Florida’s senior U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio filed a bill in both 2018 and 2019 to make the change both in Florida and nationwide -- so the Sunshine State would not be out-of-sink with the rest of the country. Neither bill made it to the Senate floor for a vote.

Georgia senators last week passed Senate Bill 100, which calls for Georgia to observe standard time year round, unless Congress votes to let states observe daylight saving time permanently. In that case, the bill calls for Georgia to observe daylight saving time 12 months a year.

Cantrell said he’s gotten complaints about that bill because people prefer having more daylight in the evening. Still, he said he wants to end the time change, calling it “almost universally despised.” He cited studies finding that car wrecks, medical errors and heart attacks rise after clocks spring forward or fall back.

“Time change disrupts the natural order of things,” Cantrell said.

States have the power to forgo daylight saving time. Currently Hawaii and most of Arizona stay on standard time all year. A number of other states are considering changes and the issue has been debated by Georgia lawmakers for several years. Last year the state House adopted a resolution urging the federal government to allow states to switch permanently to daylight saving time, but no bill mandating a switch in Georgia has passed before.

Reeves said it would be desirable for Georgia to act in conjunction with neighboring states. If Georgia were to permanently observe daylight saving time and Alabama were to still observe Central Standard Time, it would open up a two-hour gap in times for people living in the Columbus area and other regions along the state line.