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Fall-back time change continues despite efforts to end practice

By Stephen Betts | Nov 02, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts Clocks are set back an hour in November.

Mainers set their clocks back an hour Sunday as the state returned to standard time.

This change continues despite efforts annually in the Maine Legislature to either forego setting clocks back in the fall or to permanently shift to Atlantic Standard Time, which the maritime provinces of Canada use.

Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday of November when the state returns to standard time.

The latest efforts tp change this practice were made in the spring of 2019 with two bills -- LDs 144 and 885. LD 144 would seek permission from the U.S. Department of Transportation to place Maine in the Atlantic Time Zone. That bill died in the Legislature.

LD 885 was amended to have Maine shift to Eastern Daylight Time year-round when the federal government allows all states and the the District of Columbia, currently in the Eastern time zone, to stay in Eastern Daylight Saving Time all year.

The states in the Eastern time zone are Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, part of Indiana, part of Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, part of Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

During a public hearing in March, executives of radio and television stations voiced opposition to Maine moving to Atlantic Standard Time, saying it would drastically disrupt how people in Maine watch television or listen to radio.

State Rep. Christopher Kessler, a Democrat South Portland, voiced support for the bill to shift to Atlantic Standard Time.

Kessler said numerous studies show how changing the clocks causes health problems and increases the risk of accidents. He also argued that people are increasingly getting their news and programming at their convenience, such as getting it on the internet.

The Democratic legislator said the safety of children would not be at risk by having school start in the dark, pointing out that parents could get their children reflective tape and flashlights.

Supporters of the change argue that to Atlantic time would provide extra daylight during working hours and would help people’s mental and physical health.

According to the website,, the idea of switching clocks started with Benjamin Franklin, who said it would save energy by having daylight extend later during the work day.

The United States temporarily approved Daylight Saving Time across much of the country in World War I, but that was repealed and reinstated during World War II, also as a supposed energy saving measure.


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Comments (3)
Posted by: Barry Douglas Morse | Nov 03, 2019 12:28

I have not seen any studies that directly relate increased health risks in Maine. And there are so many confounding factors, such as the daylight hours already precipitously decreasing directly before the fall time change and frequent air travel across times zones. It is, however, quite conceivable that a trade worker performing work in unaccustomed twilight would be at increased risk.

But it takes a parochial mindset to seriously consider a shift to the Atlantic time zone seriously. A shift to the Atlantic time zone would hinder Maine's ability to economically compete and/or trade with Maine's biggest trading partner: the United States.  For example, Maine would be separated from Silicon Valley by an additional hour for half a year, putting Maine at a unique competitive disadvantage.

Whether it's not there really are demonstrated  transient risks of seasonal time changes, these should be managed or mitigated some other way: Maine's future does not lie in isolationism.

Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Nov 03, 2019 11:17

Look at a globe - Maine and all of New England should move to the Atlantic Time Zone.

Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Nov 03, 2019 11:17

Look at a globe - Maine and all of New England should move to the Atlantic Time Zone.

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