Massachusetts may be getting an extra hour of sunshine even after daylight saving time starts.
According to a Bloomberg report, Gov. Charlie Baker recently signed a bill mandating a study of the effects of moving the state into an Atlantic Time Zone, which would brighten the end of the day during the months the Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the sun. The idea for the bill came from a resident in a Boston suburb who suggested a switch from the Eastern Standard Time Zone two years ago in a Boston Globe op-ed.
Tom Emswiler, of Quincy, believes the state’s short days are causing Massachusetts to lose college graduates to sunnier states. In the piece, Emswiler pointed out New England’s depleting retention rate — which a 2013 Boston Federal Reserve study proved was one of the lowest in the United States — with only 63 percent of the 2008 college graduating class remaining in-state after receiving diplomas.
“You look out the window and it shoots your day,” Sahil Bhaiwala, a 21-year-old Boston University student, told Bloomberg in support of Emswiler’s theory. “All you feel like doing is going home, making dinner and going to bed.”
Bhaiwala, a mathematics and economy major, is approaching his senior year of college. If Emswiler has things his way, a new time zone would persuade students like Bhaiwala from fleeing Massachusetts.
If Massachusetts was to change to an Atlantic Time Zone — which doesn’t recognize daylight saving by changing clocks in the spring and summer — then the sun would set an hour later than it does now, similar to the sunset time of eastern Canada, the Caribbean and parts of South America. It would also mean a sunrise that is an hour later.
Emswiler, a health care administrator, claims that darkness in the morning is less depressing than darkness at the end of the day, especially when the sun typically sets just three hours after lunchtime in Massachusetts.
“We’re in competition for talent with places like New York and California,” Emswiler said during an interview with Bloomberg Raido’s Baystate Business Hour. “And if we can make the sun set not at 4 p.m. when it’s dark and cold and no fun outside, that’ll make it a little more palatable.”
Baker’s new bill allows researchers to look into how the time zone change can affect the economic development measure, and the study must be completed by next July.
Massachusetts is one of many states considering dropping daylight saving time laws. According to Independent Journal, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and California are also looking into abandoning daylights saving, which has been in observance since 1966.