The biannual practice of moving clocks back and forth to accommodate for daylight saving time is here again.

And so is the annual debate about whether to end the practice and leave our clocks alone.

Paul Deveau of South Portland gets off his motorcycle at Bug Light Park on Friday evening. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Three bills pending in the Legislature would end the practice of switching the clocks twice a year in Maine or study the effects of doing so. It’s likely the bills will be combined into a single proposal as lawmakers take them up in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, daylight saving time begins Sunday at 2 a.m. That means clocks are set ahead one hour, gaining more daylight at the end of the day.

Daylight saving time is defined as a period between spring and fall when clocks in most parts of the country are set one hour ahead of standard time. It was originally enacted in the U.S. following Germany’s 1916 effort to conserve fuel by lengthening daylight hours during World War I, and its duration has since been extended.

Congress in 2005 extended daylight saving time from six months to nearly eight, from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. As a result, the U.S. now has four months of standard time, from November to March. The country also has experimented before with year-round daylight saving time, including from 1942-1945 and from 1974-1975.


Shifting to permanent daylight saving time, proponents say, could benefit businesses and agriculture, and would allow people to exercise and work outside later in the day. There also are health impacts associated with changing the clocks, though one medical expert said that, while he supports eliminating the clock changes, our biological clocks are better aligned with standard time than daylight saving time.

The idea has broad support, but Maine’s Legislature has so far decided against making the change if neighboring states don’t do it, too. Maine passed a law in 2019 that would make daylight saving time permanent in Maine if federal law allows for year-round observation of daylight saving time and if the other states in the Eastern time zone adopt similar laws.

More recent efforts to pass laws that would end clock changes in Maine without waiting for the other states have failed.

A girl watches the sunset from Bug Light Park in South Portland on Friday evening. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

While the Legislature has always fallen short of the votes needed to actually end the practice, dislike for daylight saving time is a bipartisan sentiment.

Separate bills sponsored by Sen. Joe Baldacci, D-Bangor, and Sen. Rick Bennett, R-Oxford, would both lock the clock in Maine. Baldacci’s bill would have Maine observe Eastern Standard Time – the fall/winter time – year round. Should Bennett’s bill pass, the state would observe Eastern Daylight Time – the spring/summer time – for the entire year.

Those bills would eliminate the requirement that other eastern states also make the change, so the changes would go into effect immediately if permitted by federal law.


A third bill that is sponsored by Bennett and co-sponsored by Baldacci would direct the University of Maine System to study the potential impacts of adopting Atlantic Standard Time, the time zone for eastern Canada. Atlantic Standard Time is the same as Eastern Daylight Time.

Changing the clocks for four months of the year causes unnecessary turmoil in peoples’ lives, Bennett said Friday. He said other Eastern states are considering similar proposals.

“It throws off peoples’ schedules and there’s really no need in today’s world to have the change at all,” he said.

Baldacci did not respond to an interview request to answer questions about his bill.

Maine lawmakers are not the only ones wrestling with the clock debate.

Whether to ditch daylight saving time is being discussed in states across the country and at the federal level.


Sen. Marco Rubio, R- Florida, reintroduced a bill this month that would have the entire country use daylight time – spring/summer time – year round. The bill was passed unanimously in the Senate last year but was never taken up by the House.

Proponents of that bill, known as the Sunshine Protection Act, say it would have economic benefits, reduce stress and seasonal depression, and could even reduce energy consumption. Some studies have said energy savings would be minimal, however.

It’s time to make the change at the federal level, if you ask members of Maine’s congressional delegation. They unanimously supported the federal bill last year.

Bart and Beth Cory of Portland walk at Bug Light Park in South Portland on Friday evening. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

“It’s time to end the practice of moving our clocks twice a year, which has been linked to higher rates of accidents, depression, and other health issues,” Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement at the time. “Daylight saving time also has been shown to save energy and allows Americans who work a standard work shift during the day to enjoy more daylight in the late afternoon for exercise or leisure activities.”

“Like many Maine people, I’m tired of 4 p.m. sunsets and time-change whiplash that throws our collective routines out of whack,” Sen. Angus King said at the time. “The advantages this back-and-forth system brought over a century ago are mostly gone, and the complications to our households and global economy have only magnified over time.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: