AUGUSTA, Maine — A bill that received preliminary approval Thursday in the Maine House of Representatives could put Maine an hour ahead of East Coast states for part of the year, though there is a growing movement among neighboring New England states to do the same.
Under provisions of the bill that advanced as a result of preliminary votes Thursday in the House of Representatives, Maine would do away with daylight saving time and shift to the Atlantic Standard Time Zone year-round without a statewide referendum. As a result of procedural House votes on Thursday, the move would not require approval via statewide referendum.
LD 203 would exempt Maine from federal provisions observing Eastern daylight saving time for eight months of the year and move Maine to the Atlantic Standard Time Zone year-round. Practically speaking, that would put Maine an hour ahead of other eastern states, into the time zone shared by Puerto Rico and Canada’s maritime provinces, for part of the year.
The move would also give Maine more daylight in the afternoon and evening during the winter months instead of setting the clocks ahead for daylight saving time.
In a tie vote Thursday morning, the House of Representatives rejected a bid to send the question to referendum, contingent on whether Massachusetts and New Hampshire approve the change. Some House members argued a referendum could cost too much.
The fiscal note on the bill indicates that the referendum could cost up to $100,000 if it causes the secretary of state’s office to need a second ballot for the November election.
The House then voted 85-59 to adopt an amendment that would move Maine to the Atlantic Standard Time Zone without a statewide vote — but only if Massachusetts and New Hampshire also vote to switch time zones.
The New Hampshire House already approved a change and the Senate is considering it. As conceived, the New Hampshire change would be contingent on what Massachusetts does.
Massachusetts is in the midst of studying the change. Connecticut and Rhode Island are also considering the change.
The federal Uniform Time Act allows states to decide whether they participate in daylight saving time, though a change requires approval by Congress or the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.