A state legislator who repeatedly has tried to do away with the twice-yearly time changes in New Mexico may take another crack at it during the upcoming legislative session.
Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, said he may introduce a joint resolution, which would not require any action on the part of Gov. Susana Martinez, to get the ball rolling on the issue when the legislature convenes in January for a 30-day session.
“That is definitely an option I want to keep open,” Pirtle said Sunday, the day clocks changed in New Mexico and most of the nation.
In any event, the final decision would rest with the U.S. Department of Transportation, which would have to schedule a series of public meetings to take in public input and consider the ramifications of eliminating the time change.
Pirtle said he is trying to determine whether a joint resolution would be enough to get the U.S. Department of Transportation to “look at moving us into the closest time zone to the East. That would be the Central time zone.”
Pirtle, who has often argued that many Americans are tired of the time change, said moving to a permanent Central time zone, which covers Texas among other states, would aid the state’s commerce.
“Since so much of our state’s economy is based on oil and gas and banking, the closer we are in time with our neighbors in the east the better, and the closer to New York, with the stock exchange working there from 8 to 4, I think will make our economy better off,” he said.
But Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe and a co-sponsor of a bill that Pirtle introduced to do away with the time change in the 2014 legislative session, said New Mexico citizens on the state’s northern and western border would prefer to be more closely aligned with Arizona and Colorado’s Mountain time zones.
“It seems like there was lot of concern about making the time switch permanently to one zone or the other,” Egolf said. “His [Pirtle’s] perspective makes sense. But at the same time people in Santa Fe or points north want to be on the same time zone as Colorado … so you could use the same argument to align us with Colorado.”
Pirtle said the argument over which time zone is preferable has led to his bill dying or stalling during the past few legislative sessions. But he added: “We need to rally around year-round daylight savings.”
The Uniform Time Act of 1966 mandated daylight saving time from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October, though that latter date has since changed to the first Sunday in November.
Over the decades, however, it seems many Americans have become fed up with the idea of moving clocks back or forth an hour and the subsequent disturbance of their sleeping patterns that can ensue.
A Rasmussen Report public-opinion survey from 2012 said 40 percent of Americans were ready for the time-change system to be thrown out, while 45 percent remained happy with it. The other 5 percent were undecided.
But a more recent Fox News survey from 2016 said 83 percent of Americans were tired of changing clocks twice a year.
Among other reasons for setting the clocks back an hour in November, proponents say, is that it doesn’t leave schoolchildren waiting in the morning dark for school buses to pick them up.
But Pirtle said the solution to that is easy.
“If kids are going to the school in the dark, then instead of changing the clock to make them go to school later in the day, just change the time that they go to school,” he said. “Kids do better when they start school later in the day, anyway.
“It makes no sense to me and to most people that we do it this way.”
Several U.S. territories, as well as Arizona and Hawaii, do not observe daylight saving time.
Contact Robert Nott at 505-986-3021 or firstname.lastname@example.org.