Massachusetts is considering whether to leap ahead into the Atlantic Time Zone – eliminating the practice of setting clocks forward and back.
Darkness arrives early in New England, which sits on the edge of the Eastern Time Zone. A permanent spring ahead could yield health and economic benefits, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a state commission’s draft report.
Massachusetts “could make a data-driven case for moving to the Atlantic Time Zone year-round,” the commission said last month.
If the commission’s 11 members approve the proposal in a Nov. 1 vote, the report will be sent to lawmakers, said state Sen. Eileen Donoghue, who chairs the commission.
Federal law only allows states to opt out of Daylight Saving Time – not adopt it all year. But Massachusetts could shift ahead an hour into Atlantic Time, which includes eastern Canada and Puerto Rico.
Retailers like more daylight for shoppers and educators object to more darkness earlier in the day for students.
But the draft recommends Massachusetts never consider changing time zones unilaterally, without other New England states.
Commission member Paul Frost believes New York also would have to change zones. Otherwise, he fears disruptions to financial markets, TV schedules and travelers.
Daylight Saving Time was originally viewed as a way to cut down on energy use by replacing electric lighting with sunlight, and Congress set the uniform dates in 1966.
But losing an hour each spring has been associated with traffic deaths, workplace injuries and heart attacks, according to the draft report. Lawmakers around the country frequently propose measures to dispense with twice-yearly time changes.
The Time Zone Report counted 26 states with bills in the 2017 legislative session that deal with clock settings, including a New York bill that would eliminate Daylight Saving Time.
But the current system has proven hard to stop. “The practical matter is this is something that has been in place and does not change easily,” Donoghue said.