Prop 7: Californians to vote on daylight saving or standard time

It's clockwork: Every fall and spring, Californians and most of the rest of the nation switch to daylight saving or standard time, often with gripes about losing an hour of sleep, the sun setting earlier in the day or the minor chore of changing clocks.

This November, California voters will decide if it's time for a change.

If voters approve Proposition 7 on Tuesday - the day after most of the nation falls back an hour - that would pave the way for year-round daylight saving time in the state. The issue would still need a two-thirds vote from the California Legislature and a change in federal law.

Democratic Rep. Kansen Chu of San Jose said he sponsored the measure after his dentist called him to complain about springing forward, when clocks move ahead in March, taking away an hour's sleep in the middle of the night and shifting an hour of sunlight from the morning to the evening.

Chu looked into the issue further and learned that the original reason for implementing daylight saving - to save energy during WWI - no longer seems to apply to the modern world. In fact, some studies have found that daylight saving time actually increases electricity use during the summer.

Chu also came across studies that show an increased risk of car accidents and heart attacks following the spring change, due to the loss of an hour's sleep.

"It's a public safety measure," Chu said. "And I don't know anybody who really enjoys doing this adjustment of their schedule twice a year."

Democratic Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, who opposes the measure, argues that even if California voters and the Legislature approve of year-round daylight saving, the hurdle of getting the federal government to approve is too high, considering the state's tense relationship with Washington.

Plus, she said making the switch will cause its own headaches. If California goes to year-round daylight saving, the sun wouldn't rise until 8 a.m. during some winter months, forcing children to walk to school or buses in darkness and likely leading to an increase in car and pedestrian accidents.

"I just don't share this belief that this is a major crisis," said Jackson, who represents Ventura County. "It's not something we should be tearing our hair out over."

Chu said he's open to implementing year-round standard time and that the key to the issue is eliminating the need to change the clocks twice a year.

Hawaii and Arizona, with the exception of the latter state's Navajo Nation, do not recognize daylight saving time. In March, Florida became the first state in the nation to adopt year-round daylight saving time, but the shift can't take effect unless Congress changes federal law.