ATLANTA – The Georgia House of Representatives and state Senate are at loggerheads over how Georgians should tell time.
The House passed legislation last Friday calling for the Peach State to observe daylight saving time all year.
That followed action the Senate took the week before to put Georgia on standard time permanently.
The one thing both chambers agree on is that the state should stop switching from standard time to daylight every March and back again to standard each November.
“There are some really serious health and safety reasons for eliminating time change,” Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, told his House colleagues shortly before they voted 112-48 to put Georgia on daylight time all year. “Our bodies are meant to adjust slowly to differences in the amount of daylight as the Earth rotates.”
Cantrell cited studies showing an increase in pedestrians being hit by cars during the two weeks after standard time kicks in during the fall because it suddenly gets dark an hour earlier.
Immediately following “spring-forward” in March, heart attacks go up, medical errors increase and even prison sentences handed out by judges increase, all tied to sleep deprivation, he said.
“ ’Spring forward’ sounds a lot nicer than it is,” he said.
Cantrell argued that going on daylight time all year would be better than switching to standard time permanently.
“More sunlight in the evening is good for our health,” he said. “It’s good for the economy. People prefer to shop in the daylight.”
But Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, sponsor of the Senate bill to switch to standard time, said observing daylight time during the winter would lead to dark mornings. The sun wouldn’t come up until almost 8:30 a.m. in December, prompting concerns for the safety of children going to school, he said.
The other advantage to Watson’s bill is that, if it passes and is signed into law by the governor, it could take effect with the next switch to standard time this November.
The House bill, on the other hand, could only move Georgia to daylight time permanently if Congress passes legislation giving states that option.
Watson’s bill includes a provision to make the switch from standard to daylight if and when federal lawmakers allow it.