California Prop. 7: NO!!!!

One of the odder measures on the California ballot in some time (which is indeed saying something) is this year’s Proposition 7. It is a vote to confirm a bill passed by the state legislature earlier in 2018; because it repeals provisions of an earlier initiative (from 1949), it requires voter approval.

Some of the measure is technical “clean up”–for instance, the act on the books currently gives the dates of Daylight Savings Time (DST) as distinct from what is being done in practice, in conformity with federal law. For instance,

The [1949] act also requires, from 1 a.m. on the last Sunday of April, until 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October, the standard time within the state to be one hour in advance of United States Standard Pacific Time. […]

The bill [Prop. 7] would require the advancement of this time by one hour during the daylight saving time period commencing at 2 a.m. on the 2nd Sunday of March of each year and ending at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November of.each year…

The March-November application of DST is what we are actually doing, as mandated by federal law (aside from Arizona and other states or portions thereof that do not use DST at all).

But then comes the part to which I strenuously object. Prop. 7:

(c) Notwithstanding subdivision(b) [concerning the current DST period], the Legislature may amend this section by a two-thirds vote to change the dates and times ofthe daylight saving time period, consistent with federal law, and, if federal law authorizes the state to provide for the year-round application of daylight saving time, the Legislature may amend this section by a two-thirds vote to provide for that application.

In other words, the objective of the sponsors of this measure is to change California, way out here on the Pacific Coast, to the equivalent of Mountain Standard Time year round. We would be on the same time zone in the winter months as Colorado and western South Dakota. It does not make a lot of sense.

For example, under the shift to so-called DST, in early January San Francisco would be looking at sunrise times of 8:25 a.m. That’s awfully late to see daylight; that’s a lot people with typical morning job or school start times out on the road in what will be only very low light at at time when most normal people’s body clocks are still barely out of sleep mode. I struggle to figure out why this is a good idea. (For the record, in Rapid City, SD, near the far eastern edge of the Mountain time zone, and much farther north, sunrise is at 7:27 MST in early January. The time zones do have some logic to them, as currently set up!)

I am old enough to remember when we were going to do DST for a full year nationwide for alleged energy savings in the 1970s. It was considered such a bad experiment that it was suspended, and we went back to standard time, well before the planned end. (Those were the days, when Congress could act quickly on a national issue.)

Really, we should go back to what it says in the original 1949 California act, which was six months on DST (more accurately “summer time”), six months off. That makes too much sense! If we have to get rid of time changes, which apparently bother some people and have some negative impacts, then stick to Pacific Standard Time all year. But this proposal to, in effect, move the state to the Mountain Standard Time zone all year is just DUMB. Please, Californians reading this, vote NO on 7!

13 thoughts on “California Prop. 7: NO!!!!

  1. Not in California and not a fan of DST in general.

    But is there a reason that someone (or some group) is pushing California to Mountain Time?

  2. We are having exactly the same discussion in Portugal. The EU decided (well, sort-of-decided) to end the DST, and most people seems to prefer to have the DST all year instead of having the Greenwich Time all year (the main reason is that they don’t like to be already at night when the workday ends.

    • A few years ago there were Bills before the UK Parliament proposing to devolve power over time zones to the nations [i.e. constituent countries] and regions, and in one case possibly even to individual counties (!) so it is strange to us that the EU now wants this apparently decided at a supranational level. Yes, China only has one time zone, but that’s famously an overcentralised and undemocratic state. The US is not less open for trade because it covers multiple time zones either.

      I spent some happy months in Galicia years ago, which lies directly north of you guys (well, not Madeira but certainly mainland Portugal) and uses the same time zone as Serbia, which always seemed to me frankly bonkers. At the height of summer it still wasn’t fully dark outside at 11pm. That was fine for my lifestyle in those days, but it’s probably inconvenient for anyone who needs to be asleep at that hour!

      • Having or not having DST is already decided at EU level (now the EU says that has to be DST and apparently in the future – because a pan-EU internet polling – the EU will say that can’t be DST); but individual countries still decide its time zone). I think that the reason because Galicia / Spain has the same time zone has Serbia is because of the pro-German sympathies of the Spanish government during World War II.

        Portugal had the Central European Time during some years in the 1990s – totally bizarre: sunset after 10 pm in the summer, night at 9 am in the winter.

      • Yes, I had heard that the Spanish time zone was changed under Franco, but he’s been gone for 43 years now and it’s high time (pardon the pun) that some regions are allowed to change back. Thanks for the clarification about the EU rules too.

        I flew to the Algarve in May 2000 and recall that the crew on board the plane were confused about which time zone Portugal was in. Since it turns out the country briefly adopted CET in the 1990s as you say, that would explain how they got mixed up. I never knew that either!

  3. ms writes, “If we have to get rid of time changes, which apparently bother some people and have some negative impacts, then stick to Pacific Standard Time all year.” Exactly. Yet he implies that this measure would prevent the state legislature from doing that, and would only allow the adoption of year-round DST (federal law permitting, which it doesn’t right now), not year-round standard time. I don’t read the proposition that way. I read it as allowing the legislature to adopt year-round standard time (which federal law does permit). Am I wrong?

  4. Okay, apparently the LA Times agrees with your reading; the measure would “make a change possible by repealing parts of a nearly 70-year-old state law and giving the California Legislature permission to approve a shift to year-round daylight saving time by a two-thirds vote (staying on standard time year round would not be an option).” See http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-proposition-7-endorsement-20180929-story.html. I still don’t read the statute that way myself, though.

    • I had read (possibly in the LAT) that the measure would allow either “standard” or “daylight” time year-round. But the arguments for and against mention only the latter possibility. It seems that is clearly the agenda. And, while I may not be the best at reading legal text, I took it to be saying that only year-round daylight time was enabled if it passes.

      • I ended up adopting your (and the LA Times’) interpretation, and voting No. I agree that year-round DST is the backers’ actual agenda. After looking at the statute again this morning, I decided (1) it is poorly drafted, perhaps deliberately so in order to create exactly the situation we are discussing, and (2) a court could plausibly conclude that it only permits year-round DST.

        This is not the most earth-shattering issue voters can be asked to decide. Even so, it’s a shame that we have to make decisions about proposals whose terms are so ambiguous.

        I had been ready to vote Yes. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and changing my mind.

  5. It occurs to me that putting this kind of question to voters makes a good argument for the alternative vote (IRV). My personal ranking: year-round standard time first, seasonal adjustment second, and year-round DST unranked.

  6. “the Legislature may amend this section by a two-thirds vote to change the dates and times ofthe daylight saving time period, consistent with federal law, and, if federal law authorizes the state to provide for the year-round application of daylight saving time, the Legislature may amend this section by a two-thirds vote to provide for that application.”
    Reading this again, it sounds to me like it allows either. Hmmm.

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