Republican and Democratic Lawmakers Push for Daylight Savings Abolition in Texas

Since the late 1960s, most Americans have grown accustomed to a federal government mandate that takes away one hour of sleep in the early months of the year and then gives it back as the days become shorter.

Under the federal law, the Uniform Time Act of 1966, entire states are permitted to exempt themselves from the regulation.

To date, only the states of Arizona and Hawaii have opted out, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to give Texans the option to change that.

Several constitutional amendments have been proposed that, if approved by voters in November, would allow Texas to abolish daylight savings time (DST) or — with action from Congress — transition to DST-only.

Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) filed Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 13, which would exempt Texas from daylight savings so that the standard time is in place year-long.

If passed by the legislature and approved by voters in November, the constitutional amendment would go into effect in November 2022. 

In a social media post reminding constituents to “spring forward” their clocks, Zaffirini wrote, “Coupled with ‘falling back in fall,’ this twice-a-year practice is as disorienting as it is unnecessary.”

“My SJR 13 would allow Texas voters to decide whether to continue it,” said Zaffirini. “Research indicates DST causes accidents, reduces productivity, and creates health risks.”

Sens. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) proposed a similar measure, SJR 68, which would likewise transition Texas to year-long standard time, but if approved by voters in November, it would go into effect before the March 2022 time change.

“I have advocated for a public policy of ‘let the people vote’ when it comes to pension obligation bonds and rollback elections regarding their property tax bills,” said Bettencourt in a press release. “The issue of Daylight-Saving Time is no different. Let the people vote and trust their vote!”

Menéndez offered another constitutional amendment, SJR 30, and a corresponding bill, Senate Bill (SB) 471, which would allow voters to choose between going to a year-long standard time or DST.

The catch, though, is that since the federal government only provided a way for states to exempt themselves from daylight savings and not to transition to the longer evenings year-long, a public vote in favor of the latter would require Congress to pass other legislation that would approve the change.

But if voters opted to abandon DST under Menéndez’s proposed referendum, the change would be effective January 1 of next year.

Companion legislation for Menéndez’s bill was put forward in the Texas House of Representatives by Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio).

Rep. Mike Schofield (R-Katy) also proposed a constitutional amendment and accompanying bill, House Joint Resolution (HJR) 94 and House Bill (HB) 1896, that would only allow voters to approve a transition to DST-only, provided that Congress likewise makes that change a possibility.

Though the legislation has been proposed and referred to the state affairs committees in the respective chambers, no hearings have yet been held on the subject.

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