PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Associated Press) — As most Americans brace themselves for losing an hour of sleep this weekend, some corners of the country are considering bold alternatives to daylight saving time.
California has a bill that would ask voters to abolish the practice of changing clocks twice a year. Lawmakers in Alaska and nearly a dozen other states are debating similar measures. Some lawmakers in New England want to go even further, seceding from the populous Eastern Time Zone and throwing their lot in with Nova Scotia and Puerto Rico.
“Once we spring forward, I don’t want to fall back,” said Rhode Island state Rep. Blake Filippi, who hopes the whole region will shift one hour eastward, into the Atlantic Time Zone. “Pretty much everyone I speak to would rather have it light in the evening than light first thing in the morning,” he said.
Opponents of daylight saving time argue that traffic accidents, heart attacks and strokes increase when we change time, and that contrary to popular belief, it does not save electricity.
Shifting to Atlantic Time and never changing back would effectively make summertime daylight saving hours permanent, said Filippi, who made a public health case for his bill at a Rhode Island State House hearing this week.
Some argue that moving an hour ahead of Wall Street and closer to European time zones could bring some economic benefits.
“We are an hour ahead of the markets opening in New York and Toronto,” said Marco Navarro-Genie, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “In the age of high-volume trading and high-fiber super speeds, milliseconds can mean money in transactions. This is actually a little bit of an advantage.”
Health advocate Tom Emswiler helped plant the Atlantic Time Zone idea in the imagination of New Englanders when he wrote a widely-shared opinion column for the Boston Globe in the fall. “All of New England should adopt Atlantic Standard Time, but we don’t have a New England legislature so we have to start somewhere,” Emswiler said.
Massachusetts state Sen. John Keenan, a Quincy Democrat, introduced a bill on Emswiler’s behalf to form a state commission to study the idea.
“In the short term I think it’s almost certain it’ll go nowhere,” Emswiler said. But he hopes that people now understand that “we do have an ability to change this.”