Bill to put TN on permanent daylight savings time dies in House committee

A bill to make daylight savings time permanent in Tennessee was defeated in a House committee Tuesday after it was amended to exempt the eastern part of the state.

In the final vote, five members of the House State Government Committee backed HB1909 by Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, while six opposed it. After that vote, the Senate sponsor Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, decided not to put the measure to a scheduled vote in a Senate committee.

Under the bill, Tennessee would have remained on daylight savings time permanently – not returning to standard time this fall with most of the rest of the nation.
Bowling and Todd also said there has been strong general support for the proposal statewide with most objections coming from East Tennessee, which is in the Eastern Time Zone. Middle and West Tennessee are in the Central Time Zone.

“It’s polling about 70-30 statewide. In Central time it’s about 90 percent,” said Todd during a somewhat confused State Government Committee debate.
“It’s running about 5 percent in my district,” replied Committee Chairman Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville.

In the House committee meeting, Todd at first called on members to approve his bill as written, but said he would bring it back to the committee if it was later approved in the Senate. Asked about the the proposed curious procedure, Todd said “I have my reasons” but declined to state them.

After objections from Haynes, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Johnny Shaw, D-Bolivar, declaring, “This just don’t sound right,” Todd then proposed an amendment: Daylight time would become permanent Middle and West Tennessee, but East Tennessee would continue to rotate from daylight savings time to standard time as now.

The amendment was approved on voice vote. The amended bill was then defeated on the 5-6 vote.

In the Senate State and Local Government Committee shortly afterward, Bowling was explaining the bill when another member reported the House vote. Chairman Ken Yager suggested she drop the bill, putting it in “general subcommittee,” and she agreed.

The measure still prompted some discussion.

Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, reading a letter he had received, said that if daylight savings time were made permanent, dawn would not come in Knoxville until almost 9 a.m. In January and the eastern part of the state would be on a different time than bordering states, likely creating confusion.