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Bill to make daylight saving time permanent in Washington gains momentum

OLYMPIA, Wash. - If all goes according to plan for state lawmakers, Sunday may have marked the last time you'll have to spring ahead in Washington. 

Two bills making their way through the state legislature aim to abolish the annual time change. The House voted 89-7 in favor of HB 1196, sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D) of Spokane, which calls for making daylight saving time the permanent time of the state.

Riccelli was encouraged by the vote, telling KXLY in a phone interview the bill has never made it this far. Should the state senate and Congress approve the bill, springing ahead and falling back would be a thing of the past. Several Spokane residents say they're all for the change.

"I'm really sad that we don't get to have that extra hour of our life back. I just like my sleep, that's basically it," said Megan Lajuenesse. "It went from like 1:59 to 3:00 and you're like, 'what!? I just lost an hour of my life! I don't know what happened!"

"You know, we're not all farmers anymore," said Ben Bailey. "I don't know why they started it in the first place, but it doesn't seem like a modern idea. It just throws everybody off."

But state lawmakers are looking at the big picture. SB 5139 points to research which ties switching back and forth from daylight saving time to increased risk of heart attacks and suicide rates, a spike in on-the job injuries and higher crime rates. The bipartisan bill states the switch "has negative impacts on public health, increases traffic accidents and crime, disrupts agriculture scheduling, and hinders economic growth."

Steve Calandrillo, a professor at the University of Washington School of Law who studies switching to and from daylight saving time and its impact on business, spoke in favor of the bill at a public hearing Feb. 20.

"Criminals like to work in darkness. You have my testimony there. They do not like to work in the early morning hours. They are late to bed and late to rise and so my goal is to take an hour out of a criminals' work day," Calandrillo said. "The studies I've seen... show there would be a 20 percent reduction in especially juvenile crime, vandalism, those types of crimes in the early evening hours."

Rep. Riccelli told KXLY Sunday those are all reasons as to why he chose to sponsor the bill. 

"We are already on daylight saving time eight months of the year, so to me, this seems like the most logical switch, versus going to permanent standard time, which we're only on four months of the year," Riccell said. "I'm also a big supporter of what we can do to make sure we aren't facing an obesity and diabetes epidemic, particularly with our children. More sunlight means more kids out playing longer." 

Though there's still a ways to go before we see later sunsets in Washington. The federal government gets the final say, but that's only if the state senate approves the bill.


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