SANTA FE – The twice-a-year practice of changing clocks would be a thing of a past in New Mexico under a bill approved Thursday in the state Senate.
The Senate voted 26-15 in favor of the measure, Senate Bill 239, which would keep the state on Mountain Daylight Time year-round.
“Changing the clocks twice a year … causes a lot of health issues,” the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, said during Thursday’s debate, citing effects on individuals with mental illness and families with young children.
But some senators questioned whether the legislation would mean children having to go to school in the dark during the winter.
In addition, Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, said the change could wreak havoc on Doña Ana County residents, many of whom work and run errands in nearby El Paso, Texas.
“The fact of the matter is we would never get used to it, because it would depend on what month of the year you’re in,” Cervantes said.
Officially, the bill calls for the state to adopt “Mountain Daylight Saving Time” as its year-round time zone.
To make that happen, the bill would require Gov. Susana Martinez to formally apply to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the state to be transferred to the central time zone. The state would then opt out of daylight saving time in its new time zone.
Federal law allows states to opt out of daylight saving time.
Hawaii and most of Arizona don’t observe daylight saving time, though the part of the Navajo Nation within Arizona does change its clocks.
Meanwhile, Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, said the bill could have another benefit in addition to health concerns.
He said it could lead to higher voter turnout levels, because sunset would happen an hour later for general elections, which are held in November.
The daylight saving time bill now advances to the House, where a similar Senate-approved bill stalled in 2015.