A Connecticut lawmaker who wants to end the practice of moving the clocks forward and back every year has proposed legislation that could ultimately lead to a change in the state’s time zone and possibly New England’s as well.
Republican Rep. Kurt Vail of Stafford first proposed three years ago that Connecticut move from the Eastern time zone to Atlantic Standard Time year-round. He has now decided to make such a change hinge on whether neighboring Massachusetts and Rhode Island take the same step. While acknowledging he doesn’t expect the bill to pass in the legislative session that opened Jan. 9, he believes there’s growing interest in effectively switching to year-round daylight saving time.
“Every year I’m here, I’m going to keep introducing it,” he said. “It’s like the conversation keeps going a little further every year.”
Vail said he’s optimistic there will be a public hearing on the bill this session, with experts who can provide testimony to lawmakers who may be reluctant to push for the change.
“I’m certainly not trying to jam this down anyone,” he said. “I just don’t see the point to it anymore. There’s no need for it anymore”
Vail’s bill is the latest in a series of recent proposals across New England to switch time zones. Eastern Standard Time is one hour behind Atlantic Standard Time, which is the time zone for Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and eastern Canadian provinces and other locations.
A Massachusetts panel studied the issue in 2017 and found that changing time zones could be beneficial. It noted how there could be energy savings, an economic boost from an additional hour of daylight for shoppers, and potential reductions in traffic accidents, workplace injuries and seasonal depression. But the same report warned against making the switch because such a change should be regional and “acting alone would make Massachusetts a significant outlier, and could disrupt commerce, trade, interstate transportation and broadcasting.”
A Rhode Island lawmaker in 2017 submitted legislation similar to this year’s bill in Connecticut. Maine and New Hampshire lawmakers have also considered similar proposals.
In Vermont, Democrat Rep. Samuel Young this year has submitted legislation that would establish year-round Eastern daylight saving time.
Ultimately, any of these proposals would require federal approval.
“Every year, for the last four years, the number of states doing a bill and the number of states where the bills get a lot further than they’ve gotten before keeps growing,” said Scott Yates, a Colorado-based writer and inventor who has taken up the cause to end the clock-changing.
He lists more than a dozen states on his website where bills have been proposed so far this year.
There has been some resistance over the years to various versions of bills that would end daylight saving time, including from some people who argued a change could adversely impact their businesses.
Yates said the U.S. has had some version of daylight saving time since 1918, when it was enacted as a wartime measure.