ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate passed legislation Feb. 24 that would put the Peach State on standard time all year.
The bill, which senators approved 46-7, would do away with switching back and forth twice a year between standard and daylight time, a system studies have shown disrupts sleep patterns.
Interfering with sleep during the two weeks following time changes every March and November impacts Georgians’ health and causes mood swings, said Sen. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, the bill’s chief sponsor.
“There’s a significantly higher percentage of heart attacks during the spring-forward time,” he said. “We have grumpy judges due to sleep deprivation giving harsher sentences.”
While Watson’s bill would move Georgia to standard time all year, it also calls for the state to move to daylight saving time if and when Congress allows states to make that switch. Current federal law permits states to go on standard time but not daylight saving time.
Watson said surrounding states including Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee are considering similar legislation.
Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain, questioned the wisdom of Georgia acting now rather than waiting for Congress to let states switch to daylight time permanently. She said businesses including restaurants and concert venues prefer daylight time because it allows additional evening daylight hours.
“People like having more evening light,” Jackson said.
But Watson said observing daylight time during the winter would lead to dark mornings. The sun wouldn’t come up until almost 8:30 a.m. in December, prompting concerns for the safety of children going to school, he said.
Senate Bill 100 is cosponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller, R-Gainesville; Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton; Republican Sens. John Kennedy of Macon and Dean Burke of Bainbridge; and Democratic Sen. Michelle Au of Johns Creek.
The bill now moves to the Georgia House of Representatives.