Senator seeks end to Daylight Savings Time

By Steve Terrell: The New Mexican

Have you been a little sleepy or slightly disoriented since the change to Daylight Savings Time this week? If so, a state Senate leader wants to help.

Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia, D-Dona Ana, on Tuesday introduced a bill to get rid of Daylight Savings Time altogether.

“Daylight savings time is a health hazard”, Garcia said in a news release. “It causes us to suffer from sleep disruption and deprivation that is essentially jet lag. You have drivers on the road who are half asleep on their way to work in the morning. Daylight savings can also cause major computer glitches, as we saw this weekend in New Mexico when dozens of people’s unemployment claims were impacted.”

Garcia points out that Daylight Savings Time has its origins during the first World War.

“Should we allow an outdated concept that was started in response to the climate and politics of World War One England to continue to dictate how we do things in present day New Mexico? I am carrying this bill as a `wake up call’: People need to be aware of the origins of daylight savings and how irrelevant it is to us in New Mexico.”

Garcia’s Senate Bill 716 was inspired by a weekend report on KOAT-TV news by Dr. Barry Ramo. Ramo cited a “small study” that concluded Daylight Savings caused an average loss of 60 minutes of sleep during the first week after “springing forward.” He said the New England Journal of Medicine reported auto accidents increase in the days following the time change in the spring — though, he said traffic accidents decrease when people go back to standard time in the fall.

Ramo cited a Swedish study showing that heart attacks increase during the first three days of daylight savings.

On the positive side however, Ramo said daylight savings decreases depression and helps people get the amount of sunlight their skin needs to produce Vitamin D.

New Mexico’s neighbor to the West, Arizona, does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

At least one lawmaker from the other side of the aisle said he agrees with Garcia’s premise that the time change is hard on people. But Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, said he’d rather keep Daylight Savings Time year round. “I like the daylight,” Rehm said. “And this would encourage kids to go outside to play.”

At least one other government has dumped Daylight Savings Time. Kazakhstan — the home of the fictional “Borat” — did so in 2005 after that nation’s Meteorology Committee of the Ministry of industry and Trade reported a negative impact of the daylight-saving regime observation upon children and senior citizens health, while economic benefits are rather insignificant. It caused a rise in diseases, traffic accidents and industrial injuries as well, according to the newspaper Kazakhstan Today.

The bill is scheduled to be heard Thursday in the Senate Public Affairs Committee.

Contact Steve Terrell at 986-3037 or sterrell@sfnewmexican.com

Read his political blog at roundhouseroundup.com