Logan Edwards of Portland takes in the sunrise from a park bench on the Eastern Promenade on March 13. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

State lawmakers are debating whether Maine should break away from the rest of the East Coast and stop changing its clocks twice a year, a move TV broadcasters say could wreak havoc in the industry.

A committee of lawmakers on Friday heard support for and concerns about three proposals to end the practice in Maine or study the effects of doing so.

Two of the three proposals are from Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford. L.D. 989 would direct the University of Maine to study and analyze the potential effects on public health and the state’s economy of a switch to permanent Atlantic Standard Time.

Bennett said such a study is required by the U.S. Department of Transportation for governmental entities to change their time zone or their observance of daylight saving time.

L.D. 1047 would allow Maine to have permanent daylight saving time if such a change were permitted by the federal government, and would strike a provision in current state law requiring that all states in the Eastern time zone would have to make the change for Maine to do so.

“I am overwhelmed by the increasing numbers of people each year who ask why do we bother to change our clocks for four months of the year,” Bennett told the Legislature’s Committee on State and Local Government. “Like these folks, I find this practice is anachronistic and lacking in common sense.”


The third bill, L.D. 983, from Sen. John Baldacci, D-Penobscot, would create an exemption to federal provisions and establish Eastern Standard Time as the year-round time in Maine.

Standard time is the time used in the winter months, from November until March, while daylight saving time occurs during the warmer months, when clocks are reset one hour ahead so darkness falls at a later time. Atlantic Standard Time is used in eastern Canada and is the same as Eastern Daylight Time.

Bennett said Friday that a similar bill he sponsored two years ago calling for a study was approved by the Legislature but died in appropriations. He said he is committed to getting the study funded, and the Legislature could then decide whether to go with his proposal for permanent daylight saving time or Baldacci’s proposal for permanent Eastern Standard Time. Baldacci was not present at Friday’s hearing.

“I have had conversations with him about our alternative approaches, and I think we’re both more interested in going to one consistent time than we are which it might be,” Bennett said. He said he is also open to including the impacts of permanent standard time in the study.

Three people testified on the bills Friday, including Rep. Randall Greenwood, R-Wales, who testified on behalf of House minority leader Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, in support of L.D. 1047.

Greenwood said the practice of changing the clocks is antiquated and has a negative impact on mental health. “Nearly every poll on this subject shows a large majority of Americans want to end daylight saving time,” Greenwood said.


But Tim Moore, president and CEO of the Maine Association of Broadcasters, said the association is opposed to all three bills.

“Maine cannot be an outlier to the rest of the East Coast,” Moore said. “If Maine enacts any law to adopt a time zone that is out of step with the rest of the eastern U.S., the effects on the broadcasting industry will be drastic.

“TV stations and Maine consumers rely on network programming and prime time TV, as you know, is between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. If the Atlantic time zone is made mandatory in Maine, prime time TV won’t start until 9 p.m. Late local news, that will be midnight.”

Whether to ditch daylight saving time is being discussed in states across the country and at the federal level.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R- Florida, reintroduced a bill this month that would have the entire country use daylight time – spring/summer time – year round. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate last year but was never taken up by the House.

The committee Friday also heard from Jay Pea, president of the Arizona-based organization Save Standard Time, who said he supports L.D. 983 and is opposed to the other two bills. Pea said, however, that he would approve of the study if it also included an analysis of the impacts of standard time.

“Standard time is the real time, the natural time, the time that is timed by where the sun is positioned in the sky,” Pea said. “Daylight saving time is a trick where you move your clock forward so you can leave work early, which is what makes it attractive, but it makes you have to get up an hour earlier in the morning, which is what makes it harmful.”

Pea said morning light is critical for mental health and safety. “If you have permanent daylight saving time, you’re sending people to work or school in the dark and it increases depression,” he said.

The committee is expected to hold a work session that will include the bills at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story