It won’t be long until Americans set their clocks back an hour on Nov. 5 for the end of Daylight Savings Time, also referred to as Fall Back or Winter Time.
But while many look forward to gaining an extra hour of sleep, residents of at least one state are grappling with the possibility that they might permanently move to a completely different time zone.
An 11-member Massachusetts commission is considering the impact of switching the state from the Eastern Time Zone and moving it to the Atlantic Time Zone, according to the Wall Street Journal. That would push the northeastern state an hour ahead of its current time.
If the change is enacted, Massachusetts would be accompanied by eastern Canadian provinces and Puerto Rico in the Atlantic Time Zone, NBC News reported.
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There’s a reason the commission is pondering leaving the Eastern Time Zone, which goes from Michigan to Maine, Quartz wrote, as some areas in New England during the winter have the sun set before 4 p.m.
Those in favor of the proposed change say having more daylight would bring extra business to local retail stores and lessen the effect of seasonal depression caused by a lack of sunlight, according to WCVB5. But there are some drawbacks, as noted by the commission, as having the sun rise an hour later could force some kids to head to school in the dark.
Still, the commission released a draft report last month, arguing the state “could make a data-driven case for moving to the Atlantic Time Zone year-round,” according to the Wall Street Journal, including a list of health and economic benefits.
Even if Massachusetts residents and lawmakers are okay with switching time zones, the change will likely require support from bordering states.
According to NBC News, the Massachusetts commission wrote in its report that there could be major issues with “commerce, trade, interstate transportation and broadcasting” if the state moves ahead one hour while its neighboring states remain in the Eastern Time Zone.
It looks like lawmakers in Maine might support the change, at least. In May, Maine’s Senate passed a bill that would move the state to the Atlantic Time Zone — if approved by residents in a state-wide referendum, according to the Press-Herald.
But the bill clarifies that the vote can’t happen until both Massachusetts and New Hampshire agree to switch as well, the Press-Herald reported. This May, the New Hampshire Senate voted against a bill that would move the state to the Atlantic Time Zone by a healthy margin of 16 to 7, NH1 reported. It passed New Hampshire’s House of Representatives with a voice vote.
Massachusetts state Rep. Paul Frost also told the Wall Street Journal that New York would likely have to follow Massachusetts, too, if it changed time zones to avoid complications with TV broadcast schedules and financial markets.
Changing time zones for states in New England is a common-sense decision, said Donna Bailey, a Maine state representative who sponsored her state’s bill to alter time zones.
“Why do we keep doing this to ourselves?” she asked the Wall Street Journal.
Members of the Massachusetts commission will vote Nov. 1 on a second draft proposal, which, if passed, could then be handed to state lawmakers for consideration, NBC reported.