(NEXSTAR) – In just a few weeks, Americans in all but two states will be setting their clocks ahead one hour as daylight saving time begins. But why do Texans still have to change their clocks, despite state lawmakers discussing daylight saving time on multiple occasions?
Under current federal law, a state can exempt itself from observing daylight saving time following action by the state’s legislature, the National Conference of State Legislatures explains. States cannot, however, permanently observe daylight saving time.
Pending federal action could also send states one way or the other on the time-change argument.
Last year, the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The bill would make daylight saving time our normal time, effective in early November 2023. It was sent to the House of Representatives in March, but no action was taken on it. According to records, a new bill regarding daylight saving time has yet to be introduced during the current Congress.
In recent years, Texas lawmakers have introduced a number of bills to stop changing the clocks – some hope for permanent standard time, while others call for permanent daylight saving time.
There was the bill drafted in 2014 by then-Representative Dan Flynn, R-Canton, that would have made Texas observe daylight saving time year-round. It failed to pass amid concerns doing so would make residents choose between going to church and watching the Dallas Cowboys.
Three bills were filed in 2017 to keep Texas on central standard time year-round, including a bill filed by Flynn. In 2019, legislators proposed letting voters decide on the state’s permanent time.
According to a tally by the NCSL, 11 pieces of clock-changing legislation failed to pass in Texas in 2021.
Yet again, legislators are hoping to eliminate clock-changing across Texas. Recently-introduced Senate Joint Resolution 9, for example, would leave the decision of whether to end daylight saving in the Lone Star State up to voters in November. If the resolution were to reach the ballot, and voters were to approve it, all of Texas – which is separated into two different time zones – would observe standard time (the time between November and March) year-round.
SJR 9 is just one of nearly a dozen bills introduced for the current legislative session, according to online records: seven aim to leave the decision up to voters and the remainder call for daylight saving time to be observed year-round. Records show all 11 have been filed but no additional actions were listed.
It isn’t just Texans that hope the state enacts some sort of daylight saving time-related legislation. A recently-introduced bill in New Mexico would lead the state to observe daylight saving time all year as long as all or part of Texas (specifically, El Paso County, Texas) passes a similar law. The bill passed the state’s Senate Health Committee, Nexstar’s KRQE reports, but would still need congressional approval before it could take effect.
So, at least for now, Texans should be prepared to set their clocks one hour ahead on March 12 this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.