Daylight saving time (DST) will end this Sunday – not just for 2022 but permanently, after the Senate approved a bill to eliminate twice-yearly clock changes in most of the country.
Fifty-nine senators voted in favor of eliminating DST – first introduced in Mexico in 1996 – 25 opposed the bill and 12 abstained, the Senate said in an early Wednesday morning tweet after 15 hours of debate.
The bill, which proposes a new Times Zones Law, will now be sent to President López Obrador – a staunch opponent of DST – for promulgation.
The new law will end DST in most of the country, but allows 33 northern border municipalities to continue to change clocks in order to stay in sync with the U.S. states they adjoin.
López Obrador sent the bill to Congress in July, and it was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in late September. He said in June that a government study concluded that DST generates savings of about 1 billion pesos (US $50.4 million) a year across Mexico, and that “the conclusion is that the damage to health is greater than the importance of … [those] savings.”
Health Minister Jorge Alcocer has outlined numerous health issues associated with the twice-yearly time change, including depression and heart attacks, “especially in the first week after it is implemented.”
Energy Minister Rocío Nahle said earlier this year that DST hasn’t helped Mexican families in a financial sense, while an Interior Ministry survey found 71% support for elimination.
During the lengthy Senate debate, Senator Rocío Abreu Artiñano of the ruling Morena party said that the electricity savings generated by DST are minimal and therefore the time change “has not achieved its goal.”
It has, however, caused “negative impacts” on people’s health, said Abreu, president of the Senate’s energy committee.
Xóchitl Gálvez, a National Action Party senator who opposed the bill, said that the proposal goes against what is happening in other parts of the world, where governments are making or seeking to make DST permanent. The United States is one country where lawmakers are considering that move.
Gálvez argued that DST can have a positive impact on people’s health, asserting that an extra hour of afternoon sunlight in summer helps reduce childhood obesity because “women and children” can stay at the park for longer. She also said that DST helps reduce violence and crime in general because many workers are able to return to their homes before it gets dark and are thus less likely to be targeted by criminals during their evening commute.
The Senate’s approval of the DST bill brings some closure to a debate that has raged in Mexico for years. State legislatures will, however, be able to seek an exemption from the law, provided that they first consult residents.