The California legislature took a huge step toward fixing Daylight Saving Time Monday, and nobody really understood it.
Well, with the exception of readers of this blog.
A committee of the California Senate heard two proposals related to DST. Both passed, but only one of the proposals got any press.
That one is a bill, a well-meaning bill I've written about before. It passed out of the Senate committee, but from there it heads to another committee, and from there maybe to another committee and maybe to the floor of the Senate, where it will need two-thirds to pass. If it gets that, it will need to do the whole thing again in the California Assembly and then it will go to a vote of the people.
There's almost no chance that will happen because of the business interests who want to keep more daylight in the summer evenings.
And, even if all that did happen and the voters of California passed it, there's a non-trivial chance that the Federal DoT would overrule the will of the people and not allow the change because it takes away from the uniformity called for in the Uniform Time Act of 1967.
That's why the bill from Kansen Chu is doomed.
The good news, and the news that's so misunderstood because it is, admittedly, more complex, is that a joint resolution from Jay Obernolte also passed the same Senate committee.
This is the resolution that was already approved by a committee in the Assembly (that's what California calls the lower body, what most states call the House) and by a vote of the full Assembly. It then went on to the Senate committee, where it passed unanimously on Monday. The bill from Sen. Chu had some "no" votes; it still passed but the fact that it had "no" votes is a sign of the problems it will face down the road.
Obernolte's resolution, however passed unanimously, and has sailed through every vote it's faced.
And the interesting thing is that the Senate committee did not decide to send it to yet another committee, it decided to send it to the floor of the Senate for a final vote.
Resolutions, you see, are the voice of the legislature, and so they do not require a vote from Governor Jerry Brown.
So this resolution that passed the committee Monday, a version of the one first introduced on this site, is one vote away from passage.
Now, it would be easy to say that this resolution won't go anywhere even if it does pass, but I think this one will be different.
California is California. It's the largest state in the union and people pay attention. Similar efforts to this have been attempted in smaller states, and didn't get much traction. I think part of the reason is that smaller states didn't want to appear… well… weird. This is a new idea, a new strategy, a new way of thinking. For a state like Arkansas or Missouri to be the leader, well, it's understandable why they wouldn't want to be on the tip edge of the sword.
Now a state legislator in any of the other states can stand up and say that he or she wants to do something to stick it to the feds, protect the health of the people of the state, and do it in a way that's consistent with what other, larger, states are doing.
Also, because California is California, the Federal DoT may pay a little more attention when this falls into their laps.
So join me in congratulating Assemblyman Jay Obernolte on getting this resolution thisclose to victory. If and when that victory comes we'll be that much closer to fixing this dumb DST clock-changing once and for all.