RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Republican state delegate wants Virginia to study the impact of switching to daylight saving time and standard time year-round.
Del. Joseph McNamara (R-Roanoke County) is proposing a bill for the upcoming Virginia General Assembly session that seeks a study on the effects of daylight saving time.
If the legislation passes, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade will review the effect of participating in the Uniform Time Act of 1966 and the potential consequences of adopting year-round daylight saving time and standard time.
Virginia, like most states, observes daylight saving time from March to November and then standard time the rest of the year. Under the time system, clocks are set forward, or “spring forward,” an hour on the second Sunday in March and then turn back, or “fall back,” an hour on the first Sunday of November.
Permanent daylight saving time would bring later sunsets, and year-round standard time would lead to earlier sunrises and make it darker earlier in the evening.
Lawmakers and experts have supported scrapping seasonal time changes twice a year — citing various health concerns — but there’s a difference of opinion on whether to move forward with making daylight saving time or standard time permanent.
Last March, the U.S. Senate voted to end the biannual tradition and make daylight saving time permanent, but the legislation stalled in the U.S. House.
A few state lawmakers have pushed for Virginia to stop observing daylight saving time, including a failed effort last year from Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) to keep the commonwealth on Eastern Standard Time year-round.
McNamara, who did not immediately respond to an interview request Tuesday, has previously backed adopting permanent daylight saving time. A push for a similar study from McNamara in 2021 was tabled in the state legislature.
The biannual time changes have been linked to an increased risk of car crashes, seasonal depression, obesity and more. McNamara’s bill cites the health concerns that time changes present.
According to the bill, research has found that “remaining in daylight saving time year-round will save significant amounts of energy in November and February and will lead to a decrease in childhood obesity by increasing the amount of sunlight after school hours.”
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) came out in support of ending the biannual practice after the Senate vote, but pushed for establishing permanent standard time instead.
“The AASM position statement also indicates that ‘current evidence best supports the adoption of year-round standard time, which aligns best with human circadian biology and provides distinct benefits for public health and safety,’” the AASM said in a statement.
According to the pre-filed bill, a report on the study’s findings and recommendations will be submitted to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), state lawmakers and must be made public by the start of the 2024 legislative session.