A legislative measure that would place all of New Mexico on daylight saving time year-round has cleared a Senate committee with an unanimous vote.
The Mountain Daylight as Permanent New Mexico Time bill, introduced by state Sen. Cliff Pirtle, was passed by the Senate Public Affairs Committee Tuesday by an 8-0 vote. Two years ago, when Pirtle first introduced the bill, the Senate Public Affairs Committee passed it by a 5-1 vote.
Pirtle said the bipartisan support for Senate Bill 239 in the Senate Public Affairs Committee again this session is encouraging, and indicative of the bill’s chances of being enacted into state law.
“I think that it’s a really good sign that the grassroots movement is strong behind the bill and that it should move through Judiciary,” Pirtle, R-Roswell, said Wednesday.
The bill now proceeds to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If successful there, it will head to the Senate floor, where the bill passed 28-10 in the [auth] 2015 legislative session, but stalled in the New Mexico House of Representatives, falling just short of the governor’s desk.
Pirtle said he expects the Senate will pass the measure again this year.
“I think it has the momentum to carry it all the way to getting a signature from the governor,” he said.
Two years ago, Pirtle’s time bill was sponsored in the House by state Rep. Brian Egolf, who is now the new speaker of the House. Pirtle said support for the bill is growing among state lawmakers.
“I talked to a few members that have voted against it,” he said. “There have been a few of them that have said although they voted against it last time, they’re ready to vote for it this time. So I think as they’ve been contacted by their constituents, they’re ready to support it.”
Pirtle’s bill would keep New Mexico on daylight saving time for 12 months, instead of the current eight.
Pirtle says his bill would end the confusion of changing time, which he said is both an unnecessary inconvenience and health issue. He said changing time affects the biological clocks of New Mexicans and can be dangerous. Pirtle said when the time changes, people experience more mishaps, accidents and even more heart attacks.
Pirtle also says most New Mexicans don’t know why the state changes its clocks. He said the original reasons behind the changing from standard time to daylight saving time were to save lamp oil and to help farmers and ranchers. A rancher himself, Pirtle said farmers and ranchers work sunup to sundown, regardless of the clock.
Pirtle says changing clocks twice a year no longer makes sense, especially changing to standard time for only four months. Currently, Arizona and Hawaii are the only two states that do not change their clocks.
Pirtle said the federal government allows states to exempt themselves from changing their clocks.
The federal Uniform Time Act of 1966 established an annual advancement from standard time in March of each year, commonly called daylight saving time, and an annual return to standard time about eight months later.
A section of the 1966 act authorizes a state that is entirely situated within one time zone, such as New Mexico, to exempt itself from the change to daylight saving time, as long as it does so uniformly throughout the entire state.
Pirtle’s bill would direct the governor to apply to the U.S. secretary of transportation for the state to be transferred to the central time zone pursuant to the Standard Time Act of 1918.
Upon approval of a transfer to the central time zone by the U.S. secretary of transportation, the uniform time within New Mexico would be known as mountain daylight saving time.
Senior Writer Jeff Tucker may be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 303, or at email@example.com.