Massachusetts special panel recommends ending time changes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/3/2017

As the annual ritual to change clocks backward occurs this weekend, officials in Massachusetts are pressing forward with discussion about whether the observance of daylight saving time is worth continuing.

The issue is not new to Bay State and other state officials around the country. States to review legislation this year to exempt them from time changes stretch from Maine to Montana. Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the lone states that do not take part in time changes.

Advocates for daylight saving time say it saves the U.S. about 0.5 percent energy each day it is used. Critics counter the time changes may have been useful for some during a bygone era, but it provides little if any real benefit.

A pursuit drawing attention this fall in Massachusetts addresses whether the state should switch to year-round daylight saving time. The change would effectively convert the state from Eastern Standard Time to Atlantic Standard Time.

No state observes Atlantic Time. Only parts of Canada, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, observe Atlantic Time. Multiple Caribbean and South American countries also use the same time zone.

The Special Commission on the Commonwealth’s Time Zone voted this week to recommend that Massachusetts switch to Atlantic Time but only if a majority of Northeast states decide to join them.

“Any move to year-round (daylight saving time) should be regional, because acting alone would make Massachusetts a significant outlier, and could disrupt commerce, trade, interstate transportation, and broadcasting,” the report says.

The group said although New York is not included in the Northeast region the Empire State’s adoption of the rule is paramount to ensuring the success of a switch. They cite the costs of doing interstate business, particularly in financial services.

State lawmakers in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island this year each discussed efforts to adopt Atlantic Time. The New Hampshire and Rhode Island measures went as far to specify each state would only act after Massachusetts adopts the Atlantic Time Zone.

None of the states, however, adopted changes.

The special commission has submitted their report to the Massachusetts Legislature for possible adoption.

Elsewhere, one Michigan bill still active calls for petitioning the U.S. DOT to include the entire state within the Eastern Time zone and abandon time changes. A portion of the Upper Peninsula is in the Central Time zone.

Standard time begins this year on Sunday, Nov. 5.



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