As part of what I do trying to #LockTheClock, I sometimes talk to legislators or the staff of legislators. It doesn't take much time, and it always seems to be appreciated, so I’m happy to do it.
A couple of recent conversations have had me run into an interesting problem.
To get why it’s interesting, though, a bit of background:
Bay State legislators, with the skillful prompting of extraordinary citizen leadership, are considering a move to Permanent Daylight Saving Time.
Close readers of this blog know, however, that such a move isn't possible under the current law. The only thing allowed is staying in Standard Time. That’s not what they want, however, and it makes sense for that state as it is so far east in the Eastern Time Zone. Sunset will come at 4:15 on December 21st in Boston, more than an hour earlier than in Indianapolis, Atlanta, Cincinnati and other big cities on the western side of that time zone.
So the plan now is for Massachusetts to move one time zone to the east, to the Atlantic Time Zone, and then stay on Standard Time year round. (That will be the same to them as Permanent DST.)
That clever approach, by the way, first came not from New England, but from a legislator from New Mexico. He hasn't been able to get his bill passed yet, something I've written about at length.
And it’s not law yet in Massachusetts yet either, but the signs all look good.
So, that's what's prompted some of those interesting conversations.
What if, for example, the states in the Pacific Time Zone took the same approach? Oregon and Washington have already passed laws saying that if California goes into permanent DST, they will, too.
So I talked to some staff members of legislators in California. They were bummed because they know that they can only switch to permanent Standard Time. I then told them about the Massachusetts approach, and their ears picked up.
Until the point we figured out an issue with that approach: California would be moving into the Mountain Time Zone.
It's easy for Bay Staters to think of themselves in the Atlantic time zone. It juts out into the Atlantic, and the identity of the state is tied to the ocean. Heck, there’s a sculpture of a cod in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
And while California has some mountains, the idea of being in the Mountain Time Zone may be the thing that keeps that state from trying this innovative solution.
Same for, say, Illinois. Chicago thinks of itself as kind of the capital of the Central Time Zone. Could legislators there swallow their egos and move to the Eastern Time Zone?
Or what if West Virginia wants to move to permanent DST? No part of that state touches the Atlantic, would it be OK being in the Atlantic Time Zone?
Clearly, the best answer here is if Congress would take action to:
- Make a law that to #LockTheClock,
- Make it take effect in 2021, and
- Allow states that are on a time-zone border to pick which time zone they want to be in permanently.
But they may not do that if states don’t take action first. Seven states have now passed some form of law saying they want the status quo to change. Will Congress wait until half have passed something? Two-thirds? All of them? At what point will Washington decide to lead instead of follow?