By Jacob Bogage
The Boston skyline. (Robert E. Klein/AP)
Buried deep at the bottom — section 136 — of Massachusetts state legislature Bill H.4569 are two paragraphs that could make the Bay State travel in time.
The legislature has agreed to explore switching time zones, moving from Eastern Standard Time to Atlantic Standard Time — an hour ahead of the rest of the East Coast — for four months starting in the middle of November.
The bill, signed by Gov. Charlie Baker (R), creates a legislative commission to study the proposal.
Boston and other parts of the state are so far east that in winter, it gets dark really early, residents complain. How early? The first two weeks of December, the sun sets at 4:12 p.m. The latest sunrise that month is 7:13 a.m. That’s a lot of darkness.
“Any way you slice it, it’s going to be about nine hours of daylight and 15 hours of darkness,” said Tom Emswiler, 36, of Quincy, Mass. He submitted the study request to the legislature as a “bill by request,” a mechanism that allows residents to submit bills to the state legislature independent of elected officials.
Emswiler is a Virginia native and spent six years in the District before moving to Boston in 2011. When winter rolled around that year, he nearly hibernated, he said, because of how long nighttime seemed to last. He said he’d be willing to sacrifice an hour of early morning light for a little more on his commute home.
If the state decided to make the change to Atlantic Standard Time, which parts of Canada and some Caribbean islands also observe, it’d give Massachusetts residents a sunlight happy hour, even in the depths of winter.
But even state Sen. John F. Keenan (D-Quincy), who introduced the bill on Emswiler’s behalf, is undecided on a measure that would put …read more