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The clock is ticking on the state Legislature's dalliance with leaving Eastern Standard Time behind.

A task force is scheduled to meet Wednesday at the State House one last time before issuing a recommendation to lawmakers this summer about whether Massachusetts should stay on daylight saving time (aka Atlantic Standard Time) all year. An aide with Senator Eileen Donoghue, who is overseeing this review, declined to say if his boss is leaning one way or another.

But two people who will present on Wednesday could help persuade the group to make the plunge.

Dr. Judith Owens, a pediatrician and one of the time-zone commission's members, will discuss her findings on school start times. Owens authored a 2014 study that found later school days (i.e., those that begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m.) could help students get more sleep, and therefore improve their performance. Delaying the start times would defuse one of the biggest arguments against a time-zone switch: kids would be at risk if they have to go to school in the dark during the winter.

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Another panel member, public health advocate Tom Emswiler, will discuss the benefits of staying in one time zone year-round. His stance is already clear: springing forward and falling back is an unhealthy habit, particularly in the spring when we "lose" an hour.

The topic sparks controversy pretty much everywhere it comes up -- though time-zone bills have been floated in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. If Massachusetts does make this move, preferably the rest of New England would come along.


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