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House passes bill to exempt NM from daylight saving

The Roundhouse. (Journal file)

SANTA FE — New Mexico lawmakers are growing tired of changing their clocks twice a year.

But they haven’t agreed on whether to stick with Mountain standard time all year or embrace daylight saving time instead.

The state House late Tuesday narrowly passed a bill that would exempt New Mexico from daylight saving — a move supporters said would provide an extra hour of light in the morning as students wait for the bus.

But the proposal would still need Senate approval before it could reach Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

And the Senate is considering the opposite move — a proposal to switch permanently to daylight saving, providing an extra hour of light in the evening. That proposal, Senate Bill 226, has passed two committees and is awaiting action by the full Senate.

It’s sponsored by Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell. He says schools can change their start times in the winter if they’re worried about kids having to wait for the bus in the dark.

As for the House measure, the move to stay on Mountain standard time would mean that, for almost eight months of the year, New Mexico would share the same time as California and other states in the Pacific time zone. New Mexico would also be two hours different from Texas — rather than just one hour — during those months.

Under Pirtle’s bill, New Mexico would be on the same time as Texas for most of the year.

House Bill 73, sponsored by Rep. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales, a Taos Democrat and retired superintendent, said the time change is particularly disruptive to the health of young people. The spring time change — when people lose an hour of sleep — comes as students face their annual standardized assessments, he said.

It passed the House on a 35-32 vote Tuesday.

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