COLUMBIA — When South Carolinians step into the voting booth next November to pick their governor, members of Congress and other top elected offices in the the state, they could also decide whether to keep observing daylight saving time.
Every time the clocks spring forward or fall back, state Rep. Alan Clemmons says friends and constituents tell him they should pass a law to stop it. So the Myrtle Beach Republican, best known for his passionate pro-Israel advocacy, has prefiled a legislative proposal for the forthcoming session that would add that question to ballots for Election Day 2018.
“Recognizing that there are certainly different opinions about whether we should keep daylight savings time or not, I thought the best way to approach it might be to just give every South Carolinian a voice on the issue and ask the question at the polls,” Clemmons told The Post and Courier.
The referendum would only be advisory, meaning the results would not automatically lead to the change. But Clemmons is hoping it could demonstrate to lawmakers just how popular such a move would be if they were to actually take it up.
Daylight saving time has been standard practice under U.S. law since the 1960s, but states and territories are allowed to opt out.
Several have, including Hawaii, Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation), American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. But most states, and more than 70 other countries around the world, continue to participate in the practice meant to cut down on energy use.
In the decades since it was enacted, the semiannual ritual has been a constant target of ire from grumpy workers or groggy parents complaining that the clock change messes up their sleeping patterns, with a particularly strong effect on young children.
Clemmons recognizes that some lawmakers and business owners may be concerned about the state's time differing from its neighbors. But he notes that other states have dealt with time zone differences without much disruption.
The suggestion may find support in the other chamber of the Statehouse, too.
Days before Clemmons submitted his proposal, Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Gaffney, tweeted: "I think the 'time' has come to stop the practice of Daylight Saving Time. Do you?"
I think the "time" has come to stop the practice of Daylight Saving Time. Do you ? #gaffnese— Harvey Peeler (@harveypeeler) November 4, 2017
Peeler's suggestion earned a swift endorsement from Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter, highlighting the proposal's potential for bipartisanship. "Need a cosponsor?" McElveen said.
"I think it has the potential of being of interest to every South Carolinian, regardless of their political persuasion," Clemmons said. "And maybe it’ll serve as encouragement to get to the polls to vote, even for those that are discouraged by the political process."