CONCORD — Getting rid of the twice-a-year tradition of changing the clocks would keep pedestrians safer and people healthier and more productive, say bipartisan advocates of creating an Atlantic Time Zone for New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.
But New Hampshire TV and radio broadcast executives said this move would create mass confusion for the public and two past attempts to make the change nationally failed miserably.
The bill (HB 85) from Fremont Republican Rep. Josh Yokela seeks to end that jetlag feeling people have when they “spring forward” an hour every March and then eight months later, “fall back” an hour in November.
The measure would end Eastern Standard Time and create Daylight Saving Time year-round in New Hampshire, but only if Massachusetts and Maine agreed to the change as well.
Adopting this bill, however, wouldn’t change anything right away.
Congress has to approve such a request for any state.
Scott Yates has for seven years authored a blog promoting this change, called the “Lock the Clock” movement.
“With the clock changes we make, we have school children waiting in the dark, pedestrians are six times safer in the mornings than they are in the afternoon and there are spikes in heart attacks and strokes right after the spring forward and fall back,” Yates told a Senate committee last week.
Jay Pea manages a competing website called “Save Standard Time.”
“Permanent Daylight Saving Time would be forcing people to wake up an hour earlier than they are accustomed to,” Pea said. “There is not enough daylight to shift around in the morning. All the sleep academy experts oppose this.”
During the 1970s energy crisis, a two-year program to go to Daylight Saving Time nationwide was canceled after a few months, Pea said.
Daylight Saving Time started during World War I in the United States and other countries, as a way to save energy by extending the time of day when the sun set. During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered year-round Daylight Saving Time.
NH broadcasters say would ‘wreak havoc’
Scott Spradling represented the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters and said, if adopted, this bill would wreak havoc for his clients.
Much syndicated programming comes to New Hampshire from New York City, which would not have this time change, he said. “This would kick us out of sync and make a mess of programming.
“It also ignores the fact that many of our station owners also own stations in other neighboring states and they simulcast, which will present problems every year.”
Matt Houseman, vice president of Great Eastern Radio for New Hampshire and Vermont, said the change would be a “logistical nightmare” for its network, which has nine stations in the two states.
Leaders in both camps admit the only way to resolve this dispute once and for all is nationally.
Sixteen states have passed these laws and New Hampshire is among another 30 states considering a time-change reform in 2021.
Meanwhile, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has proposed the Sunshine Protection Act to make Daylight Saving Time permanent.
Yates said one aim of these state bills is to pressure more members of Congress to sign onto Rubio’s federal bill.
“The call to end the antiquated practice of clock changing is gaining momentum throughout the nation,” Rubio said in unveiling his effort.
Earlier this month, the New Hampshire House voted 250-117 to endorse the bill.