For one lawmaker, it’s time to change time; cows might agree

No more “spring forward” or “fall back.” Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Yakima, prefers his clocks to be predictable.

OLYMPIA — State Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, wants time to be predictable.

To make that happen, he sponsored a bill that would do away with “spring forward” and “fall back.” No more long November slumbers. No more dreams cut short in March. No more forgetting to change the clock.

Instead, daylight saving time would be permanent, pushing back the hour of sunset year-round.

It was the research that convinced Honeyford. Recent studies say time changes result in more car crashes, workplace injuries, heart attacks and illness, as well as higher rates of depression. Honeyford suggested the economy and education may suffer, too.

He’s not the first person who has wanted to scrap the twice-yearly clock change. Similar bills in the past, including one from former Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe, in 2015, proposed making standard time permanent. Ultimately, they failed to muster enough support.

Honeyford thinks this year is different. There’s more positive attention, he said. He’s received about 50 emails regarding his proposal; only two people opposed the idea. One didn’t offer much of a reason, he said.

He has bipartisan support, too. Two of the four co-sponsors are Democrats.

The movement’s gathering steam in neighboring states. In November, California citizens voted through a proposition asking the Legislature to consider permanent daylight saving time. An Oregon legislator crafted a bill mirroring Honeyford’s, signaling that the three West Coast states may walk in lockstep. Honeyford said there’s even interest from Idaho, a state betwixt two time zones.

States can exempt themselves from daylight saving time, but need the approval of U.S. Congress to exempt themselves from standard time. That will create an extra hurdle.

According to proponents of a permanent switch, the purported reason daylight saving was invented, to save energy, is questionable these days.

Brian Booth, a senior manager at the Snohomish County PUD, said there may not be much of a difference. For example, with LEDs becoming more common, less electricity is needed to light homes and businesses, he said.

“Less than 5 percent of our annual energy needs are dependent on seasonal differences,” he said.

There wouldn’t be any change to the amount of energy used for heating or cooling, he added.

For many people, the twice-yearly time changes are better known as mild inconveniences.

Sarah Taylor, 51, of Snohomish, has been a nurse for about 30 years. She’s mainly worked night shift, she said, and has often seen hours repeat themselves or evaporate entirely. Mostly, it’s a headache.

“When you count on only working eight hours, and you have to work nine, it’s kind of a pain in the butt,” she said.

She’s not too fond of the shorter fall shift, either. She said she’d rather just work her normal hours.

Outside of Sultan, dairy farmer Chris Groeneveld said the time changes require some extra planning.

“Cows are creatures of habit,” he said.

Meaning: They like to get milked at the same time every day. So when time shifts an hour, so does the milking schedule.

To keep his livestock from becoming too cranky, Groeneveld will ease them into the change over a couple of days.

Otherwise, he said, he doesn’t pay much attention to the hour hand.

“My day in the summer time is run by sunup and sundown,” he said, “not necessarily a clock.”

He knows some farmers who take the transition more seriously. They’ll spend a week acclimating the cows to the new schedule, moving milking time 10 minutes per day. Groeneveld said time changes haven’t been that big of a deal for his cows. He has more problems with humans “forgetting to set their clocks,” he said, laughing.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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