ATLANTA – Georgians turning back their clocks by an hour this weekend to begin observing standard time might be excused for thinking they don’t have to make the time change this year.
But legislation the General Assembly passed last March adopting year-round daylight saving time won’t take effect unless and until Congress makes the change at the national level.
Georgia lawmakers approved the permanent daylight saving time bill on the final day of this year’s legislative session following a session-long debate that included consideration of a second measure calling for the Peach State to observe standard time all year long.
The state Senate showed a preference for standard time in February by passing a bill putting Georgia on standard time permanently.
The Georgia House of Representatives sided with daylight saving time, passing its bill during the waning days of the 2021 session. The Senate then went with that version on final passage.
While the House and Senate initially disagreed over standard versus daylight time, lawmakers in both chambers were united in their desire to stop forcing Georgians to switch back and forth twice a year.
Switching to daylight time every spring and back to standard time every fall has been shown to be unhealthy, said Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, who sponsored the standard time bill in the Senate.
“If you look at the scientific and medical journals, the sleep studies, you see an increased hazard to us changing back and forth,” he said.
Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, who sponsored the House measure, used the same argument in favor of sticking with daylight time all year.
But Cantrell cited an additional argument in favor of daylight saving time, citing polls showing Americans prefer daylight time over standard time by a wide margin.
Watson also noted that Georgia’s neighboring states of South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and Florida are among 19 that have passed laws establishing daylight saving time permanently.
One advantage to year-round standard time is that states have the legal authority to make that switch unilaterally, while Congress must act before states can switch to daylight time all year.
But help for daylight time advocates may be on the way. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced legislation making daylight time permanent.
While the bill hasn’t gained significant support, Rubio said recently he may try to attach it to other legislation that is moving through the Senate by the end of this year.
This story available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.