By Dave Williams
Capitol Beat News Service
ATLANTA - Georgia Sen. Ben Watson doesn’t care whether the Peach State observes standard time all year or daylight saving time.
Watson, R-Savannah, a physician, just wants Georgians to pick one or the other because studies show switching back and forth every six months causes heart disease and sleeping disorders.
“I prefer either way,” he said. “Let’s quit changing it.”
Watson pre-filed two bills this month, one calling for a nonbinding advisory referendum asking Georgians whether they would rather the state observe standard time all year, daylight saving time all year, or whether they would rather continue switching between the two.
Under the other measure, Georgia would observe standard time all year, bypassing a referendum.
A third bill pre-filed this month by state Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, calls for observing daylight saving time all year.
The Senate passed legislation introduced by Watson last March calling for a nonbinding referendum on the issue. But the General Assembly shut down for three months shortly after that vote due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the measure died in the Georgia House of Representatives.
“It just got caught up in the pandemic, and I didn’t press it,” Watson said.
Only two states – Hawaii and Arizona – remain on standard time all year, as do the overseas U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Any state wishing to observe daylight time all year must seek congressional approval.
“My gut is most people would like to go to daylight time all the time,” Watson said. “It may be better to put it on the ballot and see if we can get some consensus.”