By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA - Georgians are divided over whether the Peach State should observe standard time all year or daylight saving time.
But they agree Georgia should stop the “spring forward” and “fall back” switching between the two that takes place twice a year.
Georgia Rep. Jimmy Pruett, chairman of the State Planning & Community Affairs Committee in the state House of Representatives, said Tuesday that’s what he hears from his constituents.
Margaret Ciccarelli, director of Legislative Affairs for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, said most of the 85 e-mails she has received from teachers on the issue expressed similar sentiments.
“Almost all agree the toggling back and forth is bad for students and disruptive for families,” Ciccarelli told Pruett’s committee.
The panel held a hearing Tuesday on legislation calling for a nonbinding statewide advisory referendum asking Georgians whether the state should stick with the current system of switching between standard and daylight time twice a year, observe standard time all year or go to daylight time all year.
The same divided opinions exist among the states. Arizona and Hawaii have switched to standard time permanently, while states including California, Oregon, Washington, Utah and Maine have opted to observe daylight time all year, said Scott Yates, a citizen activist from Denver who founded an organization called LockTheClock.
Even though most states that have taken up the issue have opted for daylight time, Yates said the short-term sleep deprivation that occurs when Georgia and other states switch from standard to daylight time in the spring is unhealthy.
“The Circadian rhythm advocates for permanent standard time,” he said.
Gianluca Tosini, a neuroscience professor at Morehouse School of Medicine, cited studies showing an increase in heart attacks, strokes and auto accidents during the week after the yearly switch from standard to daylight time.
The committee did not vote on the bill Tuesday. Pruett suggested it might be a better idea for the General Assembly to decide the issue rather than hold an advisory referendum, based on research into the potential impacts of the options.
Similar legislation is pending in the Georgia Senate sponsored by Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah.
Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, the sponsor of the House bill calling for a nonbinding referendum, also is pushing legislation urging the federal government to allow states to observe daylight saving time all year.