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On a split vote, Oregon Senate passes a switch to permanent standard time — if other West Coast states do

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The Oregon Senate on Monday narrowly passed a proposal to switch the state permanently to standard time — but only if Washington and California do so first.

The Senate’s 16-14 vote on Senate Bill 1548, with bipartisan support and opposition, is a compromise. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, lacked the votes in February for Oregon to lead the way in switching to standard time on the West Coast. The bill was changed to add a trigger clause that would make the proposal go into effect if California and Washington also switched to standard time.

“It just keeps us in sync with the states around us,” Thatcher said on the Senate floor.

The bill now heads to the House. It opens the debate about the advantages and disadvantages of changing clocks, a routine each fall and spring to adjust the clock to daylight.

With the session is in its final week and bills flying through, the proposal passed without the extended debate that covered religious, health and economic considerations on Feb. 20. But senators still talked about the bill.

Sen. Aaron Woods, D-Wilsonville, voted against the proposal. He said he believed a switch to permanent daylight saving time rather than permanent standard time would be best.

That would mean extended daylight hours in the evening, reducing traffic accidents and stimulating the economy with more spending in local businesses, he said.

“I firmly believe the path to permanent daylight savings time is the one that serves the best interests of Oregon,” Woods said.

On the other side of the debate, Sen. Elizabeth Steiner, D-Portland and supporter of the bill, said exposure to daylight in the morning is best, especially in the winter months. A permanent switch to standard time would also allow people who say prayers after sunrise to gather earlier, Steiner has said.

Overall, the switch would be the best for mental health and consistency, said Steiner, also a doctor.

“There is no question that this bill has generated an enormous amount of controversy.” Steiner said.

The bill would only apply to the portion of Oregon in the Pacific Time Zone, not the part of Oregon on Mountain time, which is Malheur County bordering Idaho.

Sen. Lynn Findley, R-Vale, said he remains concerned because if neighboring Idaho were to change, another bill would be necessary to align the eastern Oregon county’s time with Idaho.

Oregon Capital Chronicle is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501(c)(3) public charity. Oregon Capital Chronicle maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Lynne Terry for questions: info@oregoncapitalchronicle.com. Follow Oregon Capital Chronicle on Facebook and X.

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