A bill that could have switched Maine to the Atlantic Standard Time zone – the equivalent of the state being on daylight saving time year-round – has likely died for the current legislative session.

The change would have eliminated the twice-yearly ritual of moving clocks forward by an hour in the spring and setting them back in the fall.

Rep. Donna Bailey, D-Saco, proposed putting Maine into the Atlantic time zone with the Canadian Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, but only if Massachusetts and New Hampshire also did so.

The Maine House approved the bill 85-59 in late April. The Senate voted “yes” on the bill in May, but added an amendment that the change wouldn’t go into effect unless Maine voters approved it in a referendum.

The referendum vote would have been triggered if Massachusetts and New Hampshire also approved going to Atlantic time. Massachusetts is studying the issue, and the New Hampshire Senate killed a measure similar to Maine’s in May.

On June 6, the Maine Senate effectively tabled the bill for the 2017 session. It’s possible but unlikely to be revived for this session, Bailey said.

Because Maine is the easternmost state, many areas experience sunsets about 4 p.m. or earlier in mid-December. Moving to Atlantic Standard Time would have meant December sunsets around 5 p.m.

Bailey said she will remain an advocate for Atlantic time, and hopes the issue will come back next year.

“I am disappointed to see this bill not become law at this time, but I am very pleased that I was able to raise the issue and have people engage in a meaningful discussion about the subject,” she said.

Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, R-Oxford, also introduced a bill that called for a switch to Atlantic time.

Advocates say having a later sunset in winter would benefit health by cutting down on car accidents caused by sleep-deprived drivers, and by helping to reduce depression and anxiety disorders that worsen in winter with the early sunsets. Advocates also say it would help reduce energy costs by lowering demand for electricity.

But Gov. Paul LePage ridiculed the concept in an early May interview with WEZR-AM, calling it “crazy” and saying lawmakers who proposed the idea needed a “therapy session.”

LePage argued that the time zone shift would move Maine out of sync with the rest of the East Coast, putting the state at an economic disadvantage.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce also weighed in against the bill for similar reasons.

Fall and winter sports fans complained that live national sporting events would be an hour later from November to March, including a 10 p.m. start time for “Monday Night Football.”

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

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