Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

04/23/2005 09:30 AM House STATE AFFAIRS

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HB 176-ELIMINATE DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME                                                                                         
10:31:27 AM                                                                                                                   
VICE CHAIR GATTO  announced that the final order  of business was                                                               
HOUSE  BILL  NO.  176    "An Act  exempting  the  state  and  its                                                               
political subdivisions from daylight saving time."                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  WOODIE  SALMON,   Alaska  State  Legislature,  as                                                               
sponsor of HB  176, said the subject of this  bill - to eliminate                                                               
daylight  saving time  -  has  appeared in  the  past.   Daylight                                                               
saving time  originated to save  energy, but Alaska  has abundant                                                               
daylight in  the summer months.   For example, in Barrow  the sun                                                               
doesn't set from April to October.                                                                                              
10:34:33 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  SALMON said  some  people  argue that  businesses                                                               
need to  be connected to  the businesses  on the East  Coast, but                                                               
through the  use of  computers and cell  phones, Alaskans  can be                                                               
reached anywhere at any time of day.                                                                                            
MOIRA SMITH,  Staff to Representative Woody  Salmon, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, on  behalf of Representative  Salmon, sponsor  of HB
176, reported that researchers who  have studied human physiology                                                               
have  argued that  it  is  a disruption  to  the human  circadian                                                               
rhythms to change time zones  when traveling or through observing                                                               
the changing  of the  clock twice  a year  in April  and October.                                                               
The  research   shows  that  the  time   change  is  particularly                                                               
disruptive to teenagers;  teachers who give state  exams the week                                                               
of  the change  to daylight  saving time  in April  have observed                                                               
that  the switch  is quite  disruptive  to their  students.   Ms.                                                               
Smith said a poll was  conducted by [Dittman Research] that shows                                                               
58 percent  of Alaskans support  "getting rid of  daylight saving                                                               
time."   She revealed that 29  of the 32 public  opinion messages                                                               
(POMs) have shown support of [HB 176].                                                                                          
10:37:55 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said  this is an issue that  she was asked                                                               
to address when she was first  elected.  She said she decided she                                                               
didn't want  Alaska to be  "even further  off the time  clocks of                                                               
the rest of the United States."                                                                                                 
MS.  SMITH,  in  response  to   a  question  from  Representative                                                               
Gardner,  confirmed  that  currently  Alaska  time  is  one  hour                                                               
different  from  Pacific  time  and  four  hours  different  from                                                               
Eastern time.   If HB  176 were adopted,  then for six  months of                                                               
the  year, when  standard  time begins  in  October, Alaska  time                                                               
would  be the  same time  as Pacific  time and  only three  hours                                                               
different  from  Eastern  time.    In  response  to  a  follow-up                                                               
question from  Representative Gardner, she said,  "The ... moment                                                               
when the sun  is at the high  point in the sky  would fall closer                                                               
to  noon were  we  to  observe standard  time  all  year long  in                                                               
Anchorage ...."                                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said if Alaska  were to stay on daylight                                                               
saving time and  not change its clocks in October,  the only time                                                               
it would  make any difference would  be in winter.   For example,                                                               
instead  of the  sun rising  at 10:30  a.m. and  setting at  1:30                                                               
p.m., it would rise at 11:30 a.m. and set at 2:30 p.m.                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE SALMON, in response to  a question from Vice Chair                                                               
Gatto,  said  the  bill  would  actually  freeze  the  clocks  on                                                               
standard time - not daylight saving time.                                                                                       
VICE CHAIR  GATTO said  that changes the  formula.   Seattle, for                                                               
example, would never  be the same time as Alaska.   Instead, from                                                               
October to April, Alaska would  be one hour earlier than Seattle,                                                               
but  then  from April  to  October,  Alaska  would be  two  hours                                                               
earlier than Seattle.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER suggested  that  Alaska  could change  to                                                               
Pacific time in addition to eliminating daylight saving time.                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG,   in  response  to  a   question  from                                                               
Representative Elkins, offered his  understanding that Alaska, at                                                               
one  time in  the past,  had four  time zones:   Pacific,  Yukon,                                                               
Alaska, and Bering.                                                                                                             
VICE CHAIR  GATTO said Alaska  communicates on a  global economy.                                                               
If  [HB 176]  were  to be  adopted, it  would  increase the  time                                                               
difference  between Alaska  and most  of the  rest of  the United                                                               
States, which would  mean less time to connect  with vendors, the                                                               
stock market,  insurance companies, airlines, and  factories.  He                                                               
said that is a difficult situation.                                                                                             
10:46:38 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS  said he  doesn't  care  whether the  bill                                                               
passes  or not.   He  recalled that  when Alaska  changed to  its                                                               
current  system,  then  Governor  Bill Sheffield  asked  for  the                                                               
support of  every city councilperson  and every  borough assembly                                                               
person in  the state,  telling them  that if, at  the end  of the                                                               
year, they didn't like it, they  could request to change it back.                                                               
He said Ketchikan made that request, but nothing changed.                                                                       
VICE CHAIR GATTO said he thinks  that change was to get Juneau on                                                               
the same  clock as  Anchorage, so the  capital could  do business                                                               
with Anchorage during the same hours.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  ELKINS remarked  that  the state  does  a lot  of                                                               
business with Seattle.                                                                                                          
VICE CHAIR  GATTO said he  personally thinks Alaska should  be on                                                               
the same time as Seattle.                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said she would  like to offer an amendment                                                               
to  move  Alaska  to  Pacific   Standard  Time  and  "discontinue                                                               
participating in [Daylight saving time]."                                                                                       
10:48:53 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SALMON responded  that time zones are  set so that                                                               
the sun  is at its  highest point  at noon during  standard time.                                                               
If Alaska  were to  change to Pacific  standard time,  then "your                                                               
high noon is going to be too early."                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  GRUENBERG directed  attention  to the  previously                                                               
mentioned  Dittman  Research  poll  [included  in  the  committee                                                               
packet].   He  noted there  was only  one question  in the  poll,                                                               
which he read as follows:                                                                                                       
     Do you  support Alaskans switching to  [daylight saving                                                                    
     time] for  the summer  and then  switching back  in the                                                                    
     fall,  or   should  we  leave   our  clocks   the  same                                                                    
     throughout the year?                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG  said the  question did not  ask whether                                                               
clocks should remain the same  on standard versus daylight saving                                                               
time.    He  said  the  question was  seriously  flawed  in  that                                                               
respect.  He said he is a co-sponsor  of the bill, and he said it                                                               
is his impression  that federal law won't allow  Alaska to remain                                                               
on   daylight  saving   time  all   year.     He  said   adopting                                                               
Representative Gardner's  idea for an amendment  would get around                                                               
that problem, because  Alaska would be on  Pacific standard time.                                                               
He offered his  understanding that some parts of  the state don't                                                               
want to be "as far advanced as  maybe the urban areas would be to                                                               
be on the same  time zone as the West Coast."   He said he thinks                                                               
his constituents  would like  not to have  to shift  their clocks                                                               
back and forth  and would prefer to  be on the same  time zone as                                                               
the West Coast.   He said it would be possible  to keep Alaska on                                                               
two time  zones, and just shift  the line past which  part of the                                                               
state is on [Hawaii/Aleutian] time.                                                                                             
10:53:30 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS noted that any  community in the state that                                                               
wants  to can  change.   He noted  that Metlakatla  never changed                                                               
their clock and the state never took them to challenge.                                                                         
MS. SMITH  agreed that  a community can  do that,  but Metlakatla                                                               
has  done so  without federal  approval; therefore,  there is  no                                                               
recognition of it.  The  federal government could change Alaska's                                                               
time by statute or by a  regulation issued by the U.S. Department                                                               
of Transportation.   She said  Alaska would have to  petition the                                                               
federal government to change its time zones.                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ELKINS said Metlakatla has not suffered.                                                                         
10:55:30 AM                                                                                                                   
VICE CHAIR  GATTO indicated that the  issue of time change  has a                                                               
lot  to do  with business  hours and  with kids  having to  go to                                                               
school in  the dark.   He  said he has  received many  letters on                                                               
this issue.                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  said  the   previously  mentioned  poll  is                                                               
fascinating, but  he wonders  if the people  who responded  to it                                                               
were just  as confused as the  committee over the details  of the                                                               
issue.   He clarified that  there has  been a lot  of interesting                                                               
discussion relating to  both sides of the argument and  he is not                                                               
sure the poll is valid "until you go to a discussion like this."                                                                
10:57:50 AM                                                                                                                   
RICH  POOR,  testifying on  behalf  of  himself, stated  that  he                                                               
doesn't  know why  Alaska would  we want  to pull  itself another                                                               
hour  away from  the  East  Coast where  the  investments of  the                                                               
Permanent  Fund Corporation  are  affected by  the stock  market.                                                               
People come  to Alaska because  they like the outdoors,  he said,                                                               
and after a  day of work, they want  to go out and play.   If the                                                               
state stays on standard time, that time disappears.                                                                             
11:00:15 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  POOR listed  the  times that  the  sun sets  on  June 22  in                                                               
various  communities across  the  state.   Losing  an hour  would                                                               
mean, for example, that Fairbanks would  no longer be the land of                                                               
the  midnight sun.    Because of  the light  Alaska  gets in  the                                                               
evening during the summer, parks  and game fields are utilized to                                                               
the fullest.                                                                                                                    
11:01:56 AM                                                                                                                   
VICE CHAIR GATTO admitted that  one of the advantages of daylight                                                               
saving  time is  that  although  there is  more  darkness in  the                                                               
morning, there are extra hours of  light in the evening "when you                                                               
prefer it."                                                                                                                     
11:02:50 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. POOR noted that television  schedules are a "direct feed from                                                               
the networks  off the West Coast,"  so if the bill  passes, prime                                                               
time in  Alaska seven months  out of the year  would be a  6 p.m.                                                               
instead of 7 p.m.  He mentioned airline schedules.                                                                              
11:04:11 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. POOR, in response to  a question from Representative Gardner,                                                               
offered a  more concrete example  of the effects of  not changing                                                               
to  daylight saving  time along  with being  on Pacific  standard                                                               
time, as  her suggested amendment  would have  the state do.   He                                                               
offered his  understanding that the Alaska  State Legislature has                                                               
the  ability to  decide  whether  or not  to  change to  daylight                                                               
saving time,  but would have  to send a  resolution to the  U. S.                                                               
Department  of  Transportation  asking  for  a  consideration  to                                                               
change  the  time   to  Pacific  standard  time.     The  federal                                                               
government  would  send staff  to  hold  hearings to  get  public                                                               
testimony in  Alaska and then  take a recommendation back  to the                                                               
secretary of  the department who  would make the  final decision.                                                               
The  factors  considered when  deciding  would  be in  regard  to                                                               
commerce, communications, "and things like that," he said.                                                                      
11:06:27 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. POOR  added that he likes  Representative Gardner's suggested                                                               
11:07:22 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG offered his  understanding that there is                                                               
currently an  energy bill in  the U.S. House  of Representatives,                                                               
which proposes  that the United States,  as a whole, would  be on                                                               
daylight saving  time for a  total of  eight months of  the year.                                                               
He recommended, "If  we do that, then it might  be preferable, if                                                               
we can  do it, to  call it,  'Alaska [daylight saving  time]' for                                                               
the full year, rather than  the Pacific time, because the Pacific                                                               
standard time would  only be four months if this  new federal law                                                               
11:08:19 AM                                                                                                                   
LYNN WILLIS,  testifying on  behalf of himself  in support  of HB
176,  said he  is glad  that the  needed debate  on the  issue is                                                               
finally taking place.  He presented his testimony as follows:                                                                   
     [Daylight  saving time]  is  arguably  not required  in                                                                    
     Alaska, but  maybe this  hearing will  allow us  to see                                                                    
     the  overriding   public  good  that  requires   us  to                                                                    
     continue  to  use  [daylight  saving  time].    In  the                                                                    
     absence of any  such clear public benefit,  I would ask                                                                    
     that you respect the privacy  of Alaska's residents and                                                                    
     stop this semi-annual intrusion into our lives.                                                                            
     The  arguments to  end [daylight  saving time]  include                                                                    
     the following  10 points:   First, we live in  the land                                                                    
     of the midnight sun.   Without touching the clock, this                                                                    
     week, Southcentral  Alaska gained  about 40  minutes of                                                                    
     natural daylight.   Yes, I  understand it gets  dark in                                                                    
     the winter  in Anchorage  - or  in Alaska,  in general.                                                                    
     You  can't  have permanent,  same  length  of the  day,                                                                    
     unless you move to the  Equator - that's just something                                                                    
     we put up with by living up here.                                                                                          
     Second,  as stated,  data gathered  in  April 2004,  by                                                                    
     Dittman  Research,  shows  that  ...  58  percent  -  a                                                                    
     majority - favor no longer  changing clocks; but if you                                                                    
     quit changing  clocks, you quit using  [daylight saving                                                                    
     time].  The  same public opinion survey  showed only 37                                                                    
     percent continued to do what we're doing now.                                                                              
     Third,  based   on  my  inquiries  to   the  Regulatory                                                                    
     Commission of  Alaska, no data is  available that would                                                                    
     show a  savings of  energy by  use of  [daylight saving                                                                    
     time].   Fourth, this  is the  third repeal  attempt in                                                                    
     six years.  The last effort in  2002 - HB 409 - had the                                                                    
     necessary 26  votes to be  scheduled for a  floor vote,                                                                    
     but was held in the Rules Committee.                                                                                       
     Fifth,  advances in  communication technology,  such as                                                                    
     cell phones, voice  mail, [facsimile ("fax")] machines,                                                                    
     and use of  the Internet allow messages to  be left and                                                                    
     business  transactions to  be  conducted  at any  time.                                                                    
     Sixth, some  Alaska businesses can benefit  from a time                                                                    
     difference,  by providing  services  outside of  normal                                                                    
     business hours elsewhere.                                                                                                  
     Seventh,   Alaska  now   does  business   and  provides                                                                    
     services  to areas  that do  not  use [daylight  saving                                                                    
     time], such  as the  Pacific Far East,  including China                                                                    
     and  Japan.   Advancing our  clocks increases  the time                                                                    
     between them and  us.  Eighth, Alaska  workers, such as                                                                    
     myself,  who  are on  the  job  early in  the  morning,                                                                    
     actually lose  daylight when sun  up is delayed  by the                                                                    
     use of [daylight saving time].   Work and commuting are                                                                    
     much safer during daylight hours.                                                                                          
     Ninth, people  are impacted  by [daylight  saving time]                                                                    
     when sleep  and eating patterns  are upset.   The sun's                                                                    
     position does not  jive with the time of the  day.  The                                                                    
     sun is highest in Anchorage now  at 2 p.m., and will be                                                                    
     during this  period of  [daylight saving  time].   On a                                                                    
     hot summer  day, this  causes the  heat to  extend long                                                                    
     into the evening hours.                                                                                                    
     [Last],  most  of  Alaska  is  on  permanent  [daylight                                                                    
     saving time].   In 1983,  Alaskans living in  all areas                                                                    
     West  of  the  Yukon  Territory,  including  Anchorage,                                                                    
     Fairbanks,  and Nome,  advanced their  clocks one  hour                                                                    
     permanently.   Now, from April  to October,  these same                                                                    
     Alaskans experience ...  double [daylight saving time].                                                                    
     The  evidence  is  apparent:    Alaska  does  not  need                                                                    
     [daylight saving  time].  Let  us first end the  use of                                                                    
     [daylight  saving   time]  and  then  proceed   to  any                                                                    
     permanent time zone changes.                                                                                               
     [Daylight  saving  time] has  to  be  one of  the  most                                                                    
     invasive  laws   in  existence.    Twice   a  year,  by                                                                    
     government  fiat, every  Alaskan  is  forced to  change                                                                    
     every time  keeping device they  own, endure a  form of                                                                    
     state-sponsored jet  lag, and have  the sun be  as much                                                                    
     as three  hours off of clock  time.  What is  the clear                                                                    
     and present  need for  this?  Article  I of  our Alaska                                                                    
     [State] Constitution recognizes the  right of people to                                                                    
     privacy.  Would  you please respect that  right and end                                                                    
     the use  of [daylight  saving time]  in Alaska?   Thank                                                                    
11:12:36 AM                                                                                                                   
VICE  CHAIR  GATTO,  regarding   Mr.  Willis'  remark  about  the                                                               
equator, noted that daylight time  does change in the equator, it                                                               
just changes less than the extreme changes of the poles.                                                                        
11:13:21 AM                                                                                                                   
ROBERT WEBER,  testifying on  behalf of himself,  said he  runs a                                                               
welding shop  and a  time zone  in relation  to his  dealing with                                                               
others  is  meaningless.    He clarified  he  means  that  Alaska                                                               
doesn't share  a time zone with  any place else, thus  it doesn't                                                               
matter  whether the  state is  one hour  or five  hours off  from                                                               
anywhere else, because  everyone is aware of the time  zones.  He                                                               
stated  there is  a misconception  regarding what  is sunset  and                                                               
when it's  dark.  Where he  lives, he explained, the  sun may set                                                               
two  to four  hours before  it actually  gets dark,  for example.                                                               
Alaska is big, and  Juneau is the only area in  the state that is                                                               
close to  a "normal" time  zone related  to the sun's  rising and                                                               
setting.   He  noted that  Little  Diomede has  a four-hour  time                                                               
difference between  Big Diomede,  yet is  only three  miles away.                                                               
Parts of our state are in  the Eastern hemisphere, a fact that he                                                               
said people "keep forgetting."                                                                                                  
MR. WEBER  said, "I  hope to  see some common  sense come  out of                                                               
this bill,  and at the  very least, stop the  gut-wrenching, get-                                                               
up-an-hour-early-in-the-spring thing."  He  said his daughter and                                                               
her fellow classmates had to  take the federal placement test one                                                               
day after the time change.  He  added, "Getting up at 4:30 in the                                                               
morning is not good for test  results."  He indicated that things                                                               
couldn't  really be  made right  "unless you  establish six  time                                                               
zones."   Notwithstanding  that,  he concluded,  "You can't  make                                                               
everybody happy,  so at the very  least, ... keep us  at a normal                                                               
11:17:23 AM                                                                                                                   
PAULEEN FLOYD, testifying  on behalf of herself in  support of HB
176, said she came to Alaska  about 36 years ago and wondered why                                                               
the state had  daylight saving time.  She observed,  "It seems to                                                               
me that  the sun  itself sets  the time for  Alaska, and  not the                                                               
clock."   She noted  that senior  citizens have  trouble changing                                                               
their clock, because it throws  off their schedule and the timing                                                               
of taking medication.                                                                                                           
11:18:50 AM                                                                                                                   
LELAND FISHBACK,  testifying on behalf  of himself in  support of                                                               
HB  176,  said  he  is  a  full-time  teacher  to  children  with                                                               
disabilities.  He  said the time change  really affects students.                                                               
He said  he teaches autistic  students who need "sameness."   Any                                                               
changes, such  as to the weather  or time, really affects  them a                                                               
lot.  On a personal note,  he said he has three teenage daughters                                                               
who are  drivers.   Statistics, he  said, show  that there  is an                                                               
increase  in  traffic accidents  after  the  time change  in  the                                                               
spring.   Mr. Fishback said  e-mail and computers  allow business                                                               
to be conducted  across the states.  He  encouraged the committee                                                               
to support the bill as written.                                                                                                 
11:20:59 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. FISHBACK,  in response to  a question from Vice  Chair Gatto,                                                               
said studies  show that people get  in the habit of  going to bed                                                               
at a  certain time, which  is why  the time change  is difficult.                                                               
He added that, as a  country, "we are constantly sleep deprived,"                                                               
and the time change makes that worse.                                                                                           
11:22:01 AM                                                                                                                   
RANDY RAMUGLIA,  testifying on  behalf of himself,  said he  is a                                                               
businessperson who  does business with others  across the country                                                               
and the  four-hour time difference  [between Alaska and  the East                                                               
Coast] is  "a huge hindrance to  doing business."  He  offered an                                                               
example.    He  said  he   thinks  it's  important  that  if  the                                                               
legislature  votes  to do  away  with  daylight saving  time,  it                                                               
includes the  amendment suggested by Representative  Gardner.  In                                                               
response to a  comment from Vice Chair Gatto,  he reiterated that                                                               
having  the extra  hour  in which  to do  business  makes a  huge                                                               
difference.  It  does not require having daylight  saving time if                                                               
Alaska were to  go on Pacific time.  He  clarified, "If we cannot                                                               
go  to Pacific  time,  I  would be  opposed  to  doing away  with                                                               
[daylight saving  time], because  the five-hour  difference would                                                               
... have a very severe impact  financially on my company and, I'm                                                               
sure,  many  other businesses  in  Alaska."    In response  to  a                                                               
question from  Vice Chair Gatto,  he indicated  that it is  not a                                                               
big problem to change several clocks twice a year.                                                                              
11:24:37 AM                                                                                                                   
VICE  CHAIR  GATTO  asked  Mr.  Ramuglia  if  he  is  aware  that                                                               
reminders  to  change  the batteries  in  smoke  detectors  often                                                               
coincide with the bi-annual clock change.                                                                                       
MR.  RAMUGLIA answered  no; however,  he said  his alarms  make a                                                               
noise when the batteries are low.                                                                                               
11:26:21 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  said she used  to work for  Mr. Ramuglia,                                                               
and every year there was an employee  who came in late due to the                                                               
time change.  She  said she would routinely go to  work at 6 a.m.                                                               
in order to communicate with businesses on the East Coast.                                                                      
11:28:48 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  RAMRAS  said  he  opposes  "doing  anything  with                                                               
[daylight  saving time]."    He  offered an  anecdote.   He  said                                                               
Alaska is  unique because  it straddles  all the  numerous global                                                               
time zones and  markets, and he said he was  told that Alaska has                                                               
the potential  to grow  as a global  financial center  because of                                                               
its unique  geography, which  he indicated may  be a  good reason                                                               
not to "monkey with [daylight saving time]."                                                                                    
11:37:03 AM                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SALMON indicated that one question to ask is                                                                     
whether the state should be "stuck on" daylight saving time or                                                                  
standard time.                                                                                                                  
[HB 176 was heard and held.]                                                                                                    

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