Georgians prepare to spring forward as bills debate future of time changes

Georgia, like several states, is grappling with a question that will affect your sleeping habits: Should the state set clocks permanently or continue changing clocks twice per year? 

It seems the idea of setting clocks permanently has bipartisan support, but the state must settle on one solution to the problem. In 2021, Georgia legislators have passed two bills, one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate, that would eliminate the need to change clocks twice per year.

The bills, however, disagree on whether standard time or daylight time is best. 

HB 44, which would effectively make daylight saving time permanent, passed with a 112 to 48 vote on March 5. The bill passed in the House days after a competing bill passed in the Georgia Senate that would make standard time the permanent norm. SB 100 passed the Senate with a 46-7 vote on Feb. 24.

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Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, sponsored the House bill and said changing times have been linked to an increase in car wrecks. In the House bill, there would be an additional hour of daylight on winter evenings, but the sun would rise after 8 a.m. in Georgia on the shortest days.

"Time change disrupts the natural order of things," Cantrell said.

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Senate bill sponsor Ben Waton, R-Savannah, said studies show an increase in heart attacks and judges imposing harsher criminal sentences just after time changes.

"You don’t need me here to tell you your sleep patterns are disrupted for two weeks in spring and fall," Watson said.

Watson said surveys show people would prefer more daylight in the evening. Watson also said it would be desirable for Georgia to act in conjunction with neighboring states.

Moving to daylight saving time year-round would impose a two-hour difference with neighboring Alabama if the state remained on Central Time. Could be awkward for Georgians living near the border, where a few miles would mean clocks were severely inaccurate. 

Daylight saving time in Georgia begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday. 

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Georgia residents need to "spring forward," by setting their clocks one hour ahead before they go to sleep on Saturday night. 

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 states have enacted legislation in the last four years to provide for year-round daylight saving time.

An act of Congress is required to allow the change due to federal law.

Currently, Hawaii and most of Arizona stay on standard time all year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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