Committee Considers Ending Daylight Saving Time

The Committee on State & Local Government held a public hearing Monday (3/11) for LD 144 – An Act To Opt Out of Federal Daylight Saving Time and To Ask the United States Secretary of Transportation To Place Maine in the Atlantic Time Zone.

All three speaking against the bill represented network & radio broadcasting. In addition to concern for children at the bus stop before sunrise, the broadcast lobby argued LD 144 would cause network programming like Jeopardy, local/national news and the entire prime-time schedule to air an hour later during winter.  Concern about a loss of productivity from people staying up past midnight watching sporting events and The Oscars Ceremony was also raised.

The Maine Association of Broadcaster’s Suzanne Goucher, testified that all of New England switching wouldn’t be enough to avoid broadcast problems and that New York and Washington D.C. would also have to make the change. Citing a Massachusetts Special Commission Report (PDF Download), she suggested efforts should be directed towards Congress and specifically mentions US Sen. Marco Rubio’s Sunshine Protection Act of 2019, which would allow states to stay in the Eastern Standard Timezone year round or to have Daylight Saving Time year round.

Despite a number of co-sponsors, only the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Christopher Kessler, and Christine Keller (citizen) testified in favor of LD 441. They discussed polls showing broad support for ending Daylight Saving Time and that 26 states, including most of New England and New York, are considering similar legislation.

Both spoke of documented physical & mental health problems associated with Daylight Saving Time as well as the increase in traffic accidents associated with the time shift. Keller spoke of the difficulty for anyone to stay physically active when it’s dark at 4pm, the risks of driving home as roads are freezing and costs of using spot lights to complete outside tasks after work.

It was also pointed out that Christmas/New Year’s Break would keep students from waiting roadside on winter’s darkest days and that reflective gear is readily available. Additionally, an hour of extra light in the afternoon would greatly benefit after-school programs.

Rep. Kessler added that a growing number of people are not watching network television anymore, opting instead for streaming and DVR services to watch at their convenience.

In addition to LD 144, the committee heard much the same testimony for LD 885.  This bill differs in that rather than move to the Atlantic Time Zone, Maine would stay in the Eastern Time Zone, but without using Daylight Saving Time for part of the year.  If passed, LD 885 wouldn’t go into affect unless Sen. Rubio’s Sunshine Protection Act, or something similar, is passed by Congress.

There is no work session scheduled or committee vote recorded for either LD 144 or LD 885 at this time.