For The Record

Georgians might get to vote, in time, on springing forward, falling backward

By: - February 4, 2020 8:35 am

Georgia state Rep. Wes Cantrell is proposing to let Georgia voters cast a ballot on the future of daylight saving time, a spring and fall alarm clock change that’s demanded by an Act of Congress. Pixabay

Every time it’s time for clocks to spring forward or fall back, state Rep. Wes Cantrell knows his constituents will ask him to stop the seasonal schedule shakeup. 

And he’ll have to explain again that powerful forces – from Congress to businesses to organizers of sports played during summer vacation – are set in their twice-yearly clock-changing ways.

“By and large, people … cannot stand the time change, the switching back and forth, they really, really don’t like [it],” the Woodstock Republican told a state House committee Monday.

Cantrell is proposing letting Georgia voters put their wishes on the record in a statewide referendum. 

Cantrell’s House Bill 709 aims to put three options on this year’s fall general election ballot: Keep the same system with changes twice a year, switch to standard time year-round, or switch to daylight saving time year-round if Congress authorizes it in the future.

Daylight saving time begins this year on Sunday March 8 at 2 a.m., and your 7 a.m. alarm that morning will sound off in more darkness than it did the day before. In the U.S., daylight savings time started as an Act of Congress to support the effort to win World War I. Lawmakers reasoned people would have more hours of daylight to work if they labored while the sun was up instead of when the clock dictated their day.  

As much as social media straw polls suggest that people hate the time change, Cantrell’s colleagues expressed concern Georgia might fall out of rhythm with other parts of the country.

Georgia is now on the same time as New York City and Washington, D.C. and other major cities on the Eastern Seaboard

“The fact that we’re on the same time as them, I think, is a huge business advantage,” said Sandy Springs Republican state Rep. Deborah Silcox.

And while Georgia is on a different time than Alabama, which is an hour behind on Central Time, it’s in line with its other neighbors for the most part. The other exceptions are in Florida’s western panhandle and in in western Tennessee, which are also on Central Time.

“For every state to come up with their own plan and thus have a hodgepodge, seems to be very troublesome, to me,” said state Rep. Jimmy Pruett, an Eastman Republican and chair of the House State Planning and Community Affairs Committee.

And one lawmaker took a stand for a time that includes sticking with late summer evening twilight for recreational baseball.

“If you do not have lights, you are not playing” after sunset, said state Rep. Scot Turner, a youth sports coach and Holly Springs Republican.

Cantrell said there will be no “hodgepodge” because in practical terms, there are only two options: Stay the same or switch to standard time all year. Georgia can’t switch to year-round summer time without congressional approval.

In Washington, Florida Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill that would move the whole country to year-round daylight saving time. Florida’s Legislature and those in seven other states are on board with such a change. 

Cantrell said it will take action from the states to motivate the federal government to act with any sense of urgency. 

Pruett said the House State Planning and Community Affairs Committee will have another hearing on the bill as early as next week.

If the proposal makes it to this year’s ballot, Georgia voters will get their say Nov. 3. That’s two days after they’ll once again set their clocks back an hour. 

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Maggie Lee
Maggie Lee

Maggie Lee is a freelance reporter who's been covering Georgia and metro Atlanta government and politics since 2008. Her written work and data journalism has appeared in online and print outlets including The (Macon) Telegraph, Creative Loafing and