ONTARIO — Among all the bills dealing with carbon reduction, education funding and gun control, some northwest lawmakers are finding time to fiddle with, just that, “time.”

Love it or hate it, daylight saving time is an ongoing subject of conversation, probably since its inception. And three states, Oregon, Idaho and Washington have bills introduced in their respective Legislatures, either abolishing it or making it permanent, ending the twice a year changes between Daylight time and savings time.

Of the three states only Washington is entirely within one time zone, Pacific. However, Oregon and Idaho are split between Pacific and Mountain (with Malheur County being the only county in the latter time slot in Oregon). The Idaho Panhandle, north of the Salmon River, is in Pacific time.

A single bill in the Idaho Legislature, House Bill 85, would exempt the state from daylight saving time.

Dueling bills in Oregon, Washington

In Oregon, Senate Bill 320 specifically abolishes the annual one-hour change between standard and daylight times, keeping Oregon on daylight saving time beginning Nov. 7, 2021, according to a summary of the bill. This change would be put up to a vote of the people in the next General Election.

However, a competing bill, SB 464 would abolish daylight time, with the provision for the people to vote on it.

In the Washington Legislature, there are two bills which would maintain the state on standard time and two bills that put the state permanently on daylight time. Senate Bill 5140, which repeals daylight time, would require the state’s Commerce Department to study the impacts of the state time zone and daylight saving time on commerce. This provision is included in SB 5139, which would put the state on daylight time year round, if authorized by Congress.

Senate Bill 5250 would keep the state on standard time upon approval of the people in a vote.

Senate 1196 also provides for a vote of the people to keep Washington on daylight savings time throughout the year.

Could mean 1-hour difference in our area

Depending on if any, and which, of these bills get passed, Malheur County and southwest Idaho, including Fruitland, Payette and Weiser, residents could find themselves an hour apart at least part of the year. This could happen if Idaho stayed on standard time and Malheur County, along with the rest of Oregon, would continue to change back and forth. It would also happen if Idaho stayed on standard time and Oregon went to daylight time year round. The hour split would be ongoing.

Olivia Sorensen, director of marketing at Saint Alphonsus Medical Center-Ontario, said it is not expected there would be impacts for the medical facility, negative or positive, whichever way the times were set. Saint Alphonsus Health System has facilities in Oregon and Idaho.

Speaking about Treasure Valley Community College, Abby Lee, public information officer, said, in an email, “That’s an interesting question, especially since we coordinate our class schedules and offerings between our Ontario Campus and our Caldwell Center. Obviously TVCC, along with every other business or service in our border communities would have to adjust, but this is one of those issues we are hopeful Oregon and Idaho may be able to consider in somewhat of a coordinated way.”

There is no word on if or when the Oregon bills or Idaho bill will receive hearings, though some of the Washington bills were to be heard in committee on Friday.

Larry Meyer is a news reporter at The Argus Observer. He can be reached at (541) 823-4813 or by emailing larrym@argusobserver.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com.

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