Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)
03/18/2010 03:30 PM COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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HB 19-ELIMINATE DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME 3:37:35 PM CHAIR OLSON announced the first order of business to come before the committee was HB 19 [CSHB 19(L&C)]. 3:37:57 PM CRYSTAL KOENEMAN, aide to Representative Fairclough, said multiple attempts to eliminate Daylight Saving Time (DST) have been made since 1999. Congress placed the country on DST to conserve resources during World War I. DST was unpopular with farmers and others and was later repealed. Congress reinstated DST in February, 1942, to conserve energy during World War II. From 1945 to 1966, no DST law existed; states and municipalities could do as they chose. This caused confusion. In 1966, the Uniform Time Act said DST would begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October. Any area that wanted to be exempt from DST could do so by passing a local ordinance. The law was amended in 1986 to begin DST on the first Sunday in April. CHAIR OLSON asked for a brief history of DST in Alaska. 3:41:36 PM MS. KOENEMAN said Alaska went from five time zones to two in 1983. Juneau and Southeast Alaska moved from Pacific Time to Alaska Standard with Anchorage and Southcentral. Western Alaska was moved an hour earlier to Alaska Standard Time. Part of Alaska remains on Aleutian and Hawaii Time. CHAIR OLSON asked how DST affected that change 20 or 30 years ago. MS. KOENEMAN said the switch to Alaska Standard Time in Western Alaska, especially with DST, negatively impacted rural areas and schools. Kids were going out to recess in the dark and cold. 3:43:24 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH, sponsor of HB 16 said Hawaii and Arizona do not observe DST. Indiana was partially off DST and now is back on DST. She referred to research showing a $9 million cost when Indiana went back on to DST. She said people will testify about the impact on business, energy, recreational activities, safety, schools and health. SENATOR MENARD asked if most private citizens would like to repeal DST while some business entities are against repealing DST. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH replied a variety of opinions exist about DST. She referred to a statewide poll showing that 55 percent of Alaskans support the repeal of DST. A Rasmussen Poll found that 47 percent of Americans don't like DST. The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) is in favor of repealing DST. A state chamber poll shows opposition to repealing DST but 25 percent of the respondents came from Southeast and 70 to 80 percent of Southeast does not like HB 19. Different industries, such as broadcasting, finance and travel, have different opinions. 3:47:09 PM SENATOR THOMAS said he feels we should spring forward and stay there. He noted that Hawaii has 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of dark no matter what they do; Arizona isn't far from that. In Fairbanks and further north, it's dark no matter what you do. He thinks the issue is more about relating to the Lower 48 states from a business aspect. He asked how many hours difference Alaska would be from the West Coast if it remains on Alaska Standard Time. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH replied that Alaska would be five hours off East Coast time when they spring forward in March of 2011. She told Senator Thomas that polls coming out of his area heavily favor the repeal of DST. SENATOR THOMAS said that sunrise is as late as 10:15 a.m. and sunset is as early as 2:45 p.m. in Fairbanks. He is not sure people understand the impact on daylight and the relationship to the rest of the country, though he noted he has not seen the poll Representative Fairclough referred to. 3:49:44 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said she could get the extra polls to Senator Thomas. She referred members to "DST Around the World" which shows DST going away internationally. She pointed out that in Nome, it takes 10 days to make up the hour of light lost from jumping forward and 12 days in Anchorage. 3:51:14 PM CHAIR OLSON asked for clarification that Alaska would be going back to Alaska Standard Time year round, meaning either 4 or 5 hours difference from the East Coast depending on the time of year. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH replied that is correct. She said she used to be a buyer for JC Penney and had a narrow window for communicating with the East Coast whether it was DST or not. However, she noted that those who participate in market activities and currently get to work at 5 a.m. would have to get to work at 4 a.m. 3:52:15 PM SENATOR MENARD asked about the American Indian reservation in Arizona that still observes DST and how that works when the bulk of Arizona has repealed DST. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said she believes Arizona did not repeal DST but, rather, never adopted it. She added that some parts of Alaska, such as Metlakatla, stay on standard time and refuse to go onto DST. 3:53:37 PM DAN CUDDY, president, First National Bank of Alaska, said he supports HB 19 and repealing DST. During DST, a person goes to work in the winter in the dark and comes home in the dark. On Standard Time, a person comes home in the daylight. We lose daylight during DST. Staying on Standard Time would also allow for 6 months on the same time as the West coast states. CHAIR OLSON asked how staying on Standard Time would affect dealing with large financial institutions on the East Coast. MR. CUDDY said it would not be a problem. 3:55:22 PM CAROL TYLER, representing herself, Big Lake, spoke in support of HB 19. She said DST causes health concerns and interrupts people's biorhythms. Her children had a terrible time adjusting to the time change and their education suffered during that time. School starts too early and then with the time changes, high school kids sleep the first half of the day and are not getting the education they need. Childhood obesity is also exacerbated with lack of sleep. She noted that with electronic communication in a global economy, businesses do not need to be on the same time zone. 3:57:28 PM SCOTT SMITH, Legislative Liaison, Alaska Broadcasters Association, said that although he doesn't like DST, eliminating DST in Alaska would have unintended consequences. A great deal of programming would be tape delayed rather than live, including some live sports events. A lot of radio programs come via satellite and would need to be recorded and replayed, which entails high labor costs. Conducting business across time zones would be more complex as Alaska would be bouncing back and forth between four and five hours difference from the East Coast. 3:59:51 PM CHAIR OLSON asked if Mr. Smith is speaking for the Alaska Broadcasters Association. MR. SMITH said he owns radio stations on Kodiak. He said eliminating DST would not have a large impact on him personally but he has been asked to speak on behalf of a Television Broadcaster who would be more largely impacted. CHAIR OLSON asked for clarification on Mr. Smith's opinion of HB 19. MR. SMITH said he is opposed to a change to DST unless the rest of the country changes as well. 4:00:43 PM GREG DUROCHER, representing himself, Anchorage, said he works for the United State Geological Survey (USGS) and has 7:30 a.m. meetings which would have to be moved to 6:30 a.m. for half of the year. He said most government agencies have headquarters on the East Coast. He refuted Mr. Cuddy's earlier statement that Alaskans would have more daylight in the winter if HB 19 passes. Alaska is already on Standard Time during the winter and would not have more daylight after working hours unless we were to spring forward and stay there. He pointed out that students bounce back and forth between time zones whenever they travel out of state. 4:03:25 PM SUZY CROSBY, representing herself, Mat-Su Valley, also refuted Mr. Cuddy's comment that repealing DST would result in more daylight hours after work. Repealing DST would not change anything in the winter and would result in an hour less of daylight after work in the summer. She would rather leave DST as is or spring forward and stay forward. From late May through mid-July the average sunrise is 4:30 a.m. She questioned why we would want an extra hour of daylight at 3:30 a.m. The majority of Alaskans love the hours of daylight in the summer evenings. She works for the Alaska State Fair, attended by 300,000 people annually. Eliminating DST would have a negative impact on the Alaska State Fair's evening concerts. Without DST, a sense of being in the land of the midnight sun would halt. She said the challenge of being four hours behind the East Coast for business purposes is already difficult enough. She objected to the wording of the surveys circulated by Representative Fairclough and read them as they should have been written. 4:08:44 PM MS. CROSBY said she would propose to spring forward and stay forward to have the extra hour of light at the end of the day. She further suggested another time zone could be put in place for Western Alaska to avoid the darker mornings. 4:09:28 PM SENATOR MENARD said she does not think the survey questions Ms. Crosby referred to were trick questions. She asked if the Alaska State Fair has taken a position on DST. MS. CROSBY replied that the Alaska State Fair has taken a strong position of wanting to keep DST as is. 4:10:11 PM CHAIR OLSON called a brief at ease. 4:10:27 PM CHAIR OLSON brought the meeting back to order and turned the gavel over to Senator Menard. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said the questions Ms. Crosby referred to were in a letter to the general public of Alaska but were not on the poll. The poll was one question: "Would you like to repeal DST time or not?" 4:12:42 PM KATHLEEN FLEMING, representing herself, Talkeetna testified in support of HB 19. She runs an astronomy program for her local radio station and teaches basic star gazing. The majority of the state's population is along the meridian that is already one hour off of the standard meridian during Standard Time and two hours off during DST. Juneau is the only place where clock time and sun time are in sync and that is only during Standard Time. She is in favor of living according to sun time though she admits some inconvenience would exist when dealing with states that switch to DST. She noted that scientists, astronomers and pilots refer to Universal Coordinated Time or Greenwich Time and must go back and forth with DST. Longer days mean an hour of darkness is lost in the evening; stars are no longer available to kids. With perpetual daylight in the summer, she sees no reason to gain an extra hour of daylight in the evening. In autumn, falling back an hour is shocking as 6 minutes of daylight is lost per day anyway. We do not need to be like the Lower 48 but think for ourselves and live in accordance with natural cycles. 4:17:09 PM MIKE HARMER, representing himself, Homer, testified in support of HB 19 saying he wonders why we need more daylight in summer. In response to Ms. Crosby, he said he has never seen pitch black in September until after midnight. He would like to get away from changing times as doing so affects circadian rhythm. 4:19:12 PM LYNN WILLIS, representing himself, Eagle River, testified in support of HB 19. He said he submitted written testimony with 21 reasons to do away with DST in Alaska. These include disruption of sleep patterns and circadian rhythm and recognizing the improvements in technology allowing communication 24 hours a day. No Alaskan utility credits DST with energy savings nor do Alaskans see decreased energy costs. He quickly discussed the decisions and implications of the 1983 time zone change in Alaska. He pointed out that Pacific Rim nations do no observe DST and multinational corporations routinely use Greenwich Time, which does not change, to conduct international business. Statewide polls show that the majority of Alaskans want to end DST, in both urban and rural Alaska. He reminded committee members that four previous house bills and one previous senate bill have tried to repeal DST but have died. He hopes the issue of DST can be resolved this time. 4:22:55 PM LORA REINBOLD, representing herself, Eagle River, testified in support of HB 19. She has substitute taught for eight years and said changing back and forth from DST affects the classroom. Sleeping is hard enough for people in Alaska with the natural, drastic change in daylight. DST is a complication and a nuisance and not necessary anymore. [SENATOR MENARD turned the gavel back over to Chair Olson.] 4:25:31 PM THOMAS CARPENDER, representing himself, North Pole, testified in support of HB 19. He saw a news program that reported DST increases serious heart attacks, decreases return on investments in the week of the time change, costs the U.S. over $56 billion and causes deaths and injuries. He said his wife was a school bus driver and DST puts the kids back in the dark just when they have gained some morning daylight. DST makes drivers and kids sleep deprived and is not worth a child being hurt. He noted that most businesses are conducted over the internet which is not affected by time and TV schedule changes are not significant. 4:28:28 PM DON CORNELIUS, representing himself, Petersburg, testified in opposition to HB 19 saying that avoiding temporary inconvenience, twice a year, is main reason for HB 19. If Alaska does not stay in sync with the rest of the U.S., all Alaskans will be inconvenienced. Southeast Alaska already lost an hour of their evenings in 1983. HB 19 would eliminate another hour of daylight when most Alaskans spend time outdoors and would drive people away from healthy outdoor activities toward more sedentary indoor activities. He noted that Southern Southeast Alaska already has much less evening light than the rest of Alaska; however, he understands why Anchorage and Western Alaska don't like DST. He felt the problem began when most of Alaska was combined into one time zone. Most Alaskans would like to go back to the old time zone divisions and stay in sync with the rest of the country. If one time zone must be adhered to, he suggested sticking to DST, not Standard Time. 4:32:09 PM JOSEF QUITSLUND, representing himself, Petersburg, testified in opposition to HB 19. He does most of his work, which is noisy work, outside. He gets a lot done during DST. He begin work earlier and wake up the neighbors. He supports staying in DST time through the year and suggested the state needed more than one time zone. 4:33:42 PM BOB WEBBER, representing himself, Mat-Su, supports HB 19 and the repeal of DST. He said the legislators "screwed all the clocks up" in the 80's and suggested this was to placate the capitol move. The Legislature should "set the clocks and leave them alone." If people in Juneau do not have enough time in the evening, they should start work earlier. He should not have to wake his child up in the dark and put her to bed in the light to be on Juneau's time zone. If the legislature would do away with DST, people would not have to struggle to adjust to an insensible time change. 4:36:55 PM BILL LEGERE, General Manager, KTOO, and past president of the American Broadcasters Association, testified in opposition to HB 19. Broadcasters are concerned about being out of sync with the rest of the country for eight months of the year which would be confusing to viewers and listeners. KTOO has about 100 time- based software programs that put programming on the air, manage ventilation and run the emergency alert system. All software automatically changes back and forth from DST to Standard Time and would have to be modified if HB 19 passes. Adjusting to the change would be like Y2K for many industries. Many industries such as airlines, cruise ships, ferries, banks, hospitals and customs are not set up to accommodate Alaska's inconsistency with the rest of the country. 4:40:39 PM CHAIR OLSON asked if Mr. Leger is familiar with the public broadcasting in Western Alaska and whether they have the same computer generated, automatic time constraints. MR. LEGERE replied yes, most commercial and non-commercial stations depend on automation equipment to run their stations when they cannot afford to have people there. One person, often out of two or three staff members, will have to figure out how to reprogram the software. CHAIR OLSON asked where the nearest engineer to Western Alaska stations is. MR. LEGERE replied the nearest engineer is in Anchorage or Bethel. Technical fixes have to wait for someone to fly in or fix them remotely. CHAIR OLSON said he believes an engineer is in Kotzebue and Nome. MR. LEGERE concurred. 4:42:33 PM CHAIR OLSON closed public testimony. 4:42:44 PM CHAIR OLSON asked what Canada and other large western nations do about DST. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH answered that other countries are having a similar national debate. Many Canadian provinces observe DST but several do not. 4:43:39 PM SENATOR MENARD asked if state agencies have weighed in on the potential effects of repealing DST. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said she heard from the Palin administration last year but has not heard from the Parnell administration. The Permanent Fund Division submitted a letter saying they would have to bring someone in an hour earlier or not participate in the market for that hour. The IT and Maintenance sections both thought that going off of DST would save money because older equipment needs to be manually changed to DST. She noted that computers have a one-click function to say you are on or off of DST. 4:46:04 PM MS. KOENEMAN added that cell phones automatically update through satellites. Having to switch communication devices back and forth is almost a non-issue. 4:46:50 PM CHAIR OLSON asked Representative Fairclough to comment on some of the testimony. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said Alaskans are passionate about the detriments and benefits they see resulting from the elimination of DST. She explained that the letter Ms. Crosby referred to was meant to stimulate a conversation and was not a poll. She said Alaskan's lives are disrupted twice a year to benefit from 10 to 13 days of added light. She respects that Southeast Alaska is highly opposed to HB 19 and feel they have given up their hour already. She also recognizes that Alaska would not be synchronized with the rest of the U.S. if HB 19 passes. However, she noted that DST is being eliminated internationally due to health issues. She reported that Indiana's study showed a cost increase from switching to DST. Energy savings associated with DST is a fallacy depending on where you are in the state; it is not the case for most of Alaska. Lights are turned on in the morning when getting up in the dark. Alaska utilities say the largest contributing factor to energy consumption is temperature, not DST. She said recreation concerns for Southeast are valid. The Department of Transportation (DOT) said accident risk increases in autumn when the hour of daylight is lost dramatically. Anecdotally, the restaurant industry reports people not showing up for work. Schools anecdotally report that DST is disruptive in the classroom. The Superintendent of the Anchorage School District is in favor of repealing DST. Doctors say a student's hypothalamus is not fully developed and time changes are harder on kids. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH pointed to a study showing disruption in the classroom as an indicator of test scores and she noted DST happens when kids are being tested. She pointed to a German study showing that people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or a sleep affliction have a difficult time transitioning in and out of DST. A Swedish study shows a 4-5 percent increase in the heart attack rate associated with sleep deprivation or disruption. She noted that time changes cause difficulties for people who take medication on a schedule. Finally, she stressed that she did ask particular people to testify; people emerged in support of or opposition to HB 19. CHAIR OLSON asked her to touch on the matter of kids waiting for the morning school bus in the dark. 4:57:14 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH answered that First Student and other transport for children and parents say "it's insanity" to move back into morning darkness. Doing so increases the likelihood that a child will be harmed. First Alert tells its employees to be cautious around DST because kids were used to seeing daylight at bus stops and then are without daylight again. 4:58:21 PM MS. KOENEMAN pointed out that much of the testimony suggested staying on DST. Staying on DST is technically a time zone change which is a federal DOT issue. Also, Western Alaska would be even further off of sun time. 4:59:56 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH closed by saying the NFIB in Alaska supports HB 19 thought they would have to be vigilant about not being synchronized with the Lower 48. DST hurts Alaskan children and could possibly have an impact on other Alaska health problems. 5:01:15 PM CHAIR OLSON said that he will hold HB 19.