"Pete Buttigieg" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Americans living in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and most of Arizona don’t have to worry about changing their clocks twice a year. They have opted out of the federal Uniform Time Act of 1966 that promoted the permanent use of Daylight Saving Time every March, then rolling it back 8 months later.

Why do we have time zones?

The original idea for standardizing time zones goes way back to 1833 when railroad companies adopted a uniform system of four zones–the eastern, central, mountain and pacific time zones–we know today. By 1918, Congress stepped in and formalized that process and mandated participation in Daylight Saving Time. Local pushback forced Congress to repeal that provision a year later, leaving it up to local jurisdictions to decide if they would participate.

By 1966, a new push to adopt DST centered around a theory that extending daylight later meant families would use less energy in the nighttime hours and businesses would stay open later. But what little evidence there is only points to one thing: energy use differences are so small it doesn’t really matter.

Why do some states opt-out of Daylight Saving Time?

States have the option to participate in DST. If the legislature and governor agree to do away with it, New Mexico would simply stay on standard time forever.

But that’s not what legislation pushed by Roswell Senator Cliff Pirtle (R) would do. Under Pirtle’s proposal, New Mexico would stay on DST forever and never go back to standard time. A number of other states including Washington State have adopted similar rules but they continue to recognize DST. So why can’t they just change?

Under that federal law, states wanting to ignore DST can do so on their own. Still, to opt-out of the federal Uniform Time Act altogether they have to obtain a waiver from the US Secretary of Transportation (remember the whole railroad connection). That person, under President Biden, is Pete Buttigieg.

So even if legislators approve Pirtle’s plan and even if the governor signs it, New Mexico would continue to observe Daylight Saving Time unless Secretary Buttigieg grants a waiver.

Will DST legislation pass in New Mexico?

Senator Pirtle has been pushing his “permanent Daylight Saving Time” proposal for five years. This, however, might be the year it finally passes.


The bill passed the State Senate 22-18 and received just one committee referral in the State House. That single committee vote is scheduled for Monday, March 15th. If it passes, it will head to the full State House of Representatives for a vote which could be scheduled before the legislature adjourns sine die on noon next Saturday.

Do you care about DST? Use the Contact Your Legislator tool below to find your elected legislators and let them know.

This story is a staff report from The Paper.