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State rep renews call to keep Connecticut on Daylight Saving Time

January 3, 2019

State Rep. Kurt Vail has tried without success in the past to get his colleagues to pass legislation that would keep Connecticut on daylight saving time. This year, he’s trying a new approach.

The Republican legislator from Stafford Springs has added a caveat to his draft language in a proposed bill when the General Assembly opens Jan. 9. It calls for Connecticut general statutes to be “amended to require that once the states of Massachusetts and Rhode Island adopt Atlantic standard time, the governor of this (Connecticut) state apply to the United States Secretary of Transportation to change the standard of time for this (Connecticut) state to Atlantic standard time.”

Massachusetts and Rhode Island also have been studying the issue for years but have not yet to passed legislation. Attempts by proponents have been made in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Vail has tried — and failed — more than once with his initiative. It’s gotten as far as public hearings but it’s never been voted out of committee.

Farmers and businesses have supported the notion of keeping the additional hour of daylight in the afternoon.

“They get more production in the afternoon sunlight than the morning sunlight,” Vail said of the businesses.

There are two common objections to the idea. The first is that schoolchildren would be waiting for the bus in the dark before sunrise. That’s because the extra hour of daylight would come at the end, instead of the beginning of the day.

In Massachusetts, the Special Commission on the Commonwealth’s Time Zone suggested that the impact could be mitigated “by delaying school start times, which is a cost-effective way to alleviate safety concerns as well as improve students’ physical and mental health, attendance and graduation rates, tardiness and dropout rates, and grades and standardized test scores.”

The second complaint is that surrounding states would be on a different schedule. That’s where this year’s language comes into play, should other New England states move to adopt year-round daylight saving time.

Vail points to science to back up his argument, citing increases in both heart attacks and motor vehicle accidents the week after the clock changes in March and in November. A 2014 study in the journal Open Heart found an increase in heart attacks on the Monday following the switch to daylight saving time in the spring. A 2001 study in the Sleep Journal found an increase in motor vehicle accidents on the Monday following the spring shift and the Sunday night before the fall shift.

Daylight saving time was introduced during World War I and then abandoned until Congress passed the Uniform Time Act in 1966, which established daylight saving time from the last Sunday in April until the last Sunday in October. The dates have been amended several times. The current dates for “springing forward” and “falling back” are the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November, respectively. Those dates have been in place since 2007.

Other proposed legislation that has been submitted includes some familiar topics.

One proposed by a multitude of legislators from both chambers eliminates the requirement for the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to approve the operation of a casino gaming facility in East Windsor. The legislation would be a response to a recent federal judge’s ruling that the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribal Nation’s plans for an East Windsor casino have no legal standing to compel the Department of Interior to accept revisions to the existing gambling pact they have with the state.

Connecticut’s authorization of the East Windsor casino in 2017 was contingent on Interior accepting the revisions as a means to guarantee the new project would not jeopardize the state’s current revenue-sharing deal with the two tribal casinos.

The ruling approved the federal government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit by Connecticut and the tribe, and granted MGM, which just opened a casino in Springfield, Mass., the right to intervene if the state and tribe appeal the decision.

Other proposed bills that may hit legislative committees include: eliminating the business entity tax; eliminating the estate and gift taxes; eliminating the limits on taxpayers’ federal adjusted gross income for Social Security benefits to be exempted from the personal income tax and limits on pension exemptions from personal income tax; granting tax credits to businesses that provide paid family and medical leave for employees; establishing a task force to increase employment opportunities for people recovering from substance abuse issues.

In addition, state Rep. Charles Stallworth, D-Bridgeport, has proposed legislation to restrict the use of exotic and wild animals in circuses and traveling performances. State Rep. Bobby Gibson, D-Bloomfield, has proposed legislation to ensure that African-American studies be included in Social Studies curricula. There are also proposals drafted to create all-terrain vehicle trails on state lands, and to allow the sales of beer and wine at cideries.

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