Lawmakers Take No Action on Bill Regarding Daylight Savings

Cindy Morley

Friday, February 28th, 2020

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Health, safety and consistency were mentioned over and over Tuesday as Legislators listened to testimony on House Bill 709 which would direct the state to hold a non-binding referendum asking Georgia residents if they would like to do away with daylight saving time. A non-binding referendum is a ballot question used to inform the state government about potential future action.

Members of the State Planning and Community Affairs Committee took no action on the bill which was introduced by Rep. Wes Cantrell (R-Woodstock). But Chairman Jimmy Pruett (R-Eastman) recommended they make a decision soon in order to meet the cross-over deadline. Under House Bill 709, voters’ would have several options — to keep the annual time change, switch to year-round standard time (marked by winding clocks back an hour in late fall) or to switch to year-round daylight saving time (marked by moving clocks ahead an hour in early spring).

Many of those testifying cited safety as a concern — which is something Rep. Cantrell has mentioned as the driving force behind the change. Scott Yates of Lock the Clock applauded state officials for taking up the issues. “Clocks are killing people. Statistics on death are irrefutable. I hope everyone will look at what’s best for the state, and not best for them individually. This is definitely a non-partisan issue, it’s a good government issue.”

Cantrell agrees. He was recently quoted as saying “The majority of car accidents happen between 6 and 9 p.m. in the dark. One hour of daylight in the evening would mitigate this somewhat.”

Some testifying Monday asked lawmakers if they could just “stop switching time back and forth.” Among those was Margaret Ciccarelli, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Professional Association of Educators.

“We sent out an email to our 97,000 members last Friday regarding this issue and received 85 emails in response in just a few days,” said Ciccarelli. “They overwhelmingly expressed concern for students and their ability to learn. Those responding were not in agreement if we should stay with Standard or Daylight Saving Time, but they all agreed the toggling back and forth is hurting the students.”

Ciccarelli announced that members of Girl Scout Troop 16184 from Decatur, were in attendance at the meeting. They spoke with committee members about the negative impact of the time change.

A representative from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) — the largest small business association in the U.S. — said the organization currently had no position on the bill but would be surveying their members soon.