Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205
04/16/2009 09:00 AM STATE AFFAIRS
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HB 19-ELIMINATE DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME 9:33:45 AM CHAIR MENARD announced the consideration of HB 19. [CSHB 19(L&C) was before the committee.] CRYSTAL KOENEMAN, Staff to Representative Anna Fairclough, Alaska State Legislature, said HB 19 eliminates daylight-saving time (DST) in Alaska. She has been doing research and has had discussions with constituents and the people of Alaska. There are health, safety, and annoyance issues associated with DST. REPRESENTATIVE ANNA FAIRCLOUGH, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor of HB 19, said some say that this is a frivolous issue to take up at this time. She waited two years to bring the bill forward. She has many constituents who are very concerned. She referred to a letter she sent out to those on both sides of the issue. Polls show that Alaskans support the repeal of DST. The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce did a poll that showed the opposite. Businesses are against the repeal. She found that there are geographic differences in the answers. But there have been two statewide surveys that say most Alaskans support the repeal. Daylight and dusk doesn't mean a lot to many Alaskans for most of the year. In Nome it takes ten days to make up that hour that we jump forward. In Juneau it takes 13 days, and in Seattle it takes a little more. "We've come a long way since we argued about wax and wicks in World War I," or since Benjamin Franklin spoke about being able to manipulate energy consumption and save wax and wicks. "We have air conditioners that run in the evening now, and cooling systems that are much different in energy consumption." Alaskans believe that technology is there to help with the challenges that businesses think they will face by repealing DST. Schools don't support DST. Over 500 people responded to her with emails. Schools were disadvantaged for two to ten days with increased restlessness; teachers told her that test scores change; and school boards are taking up the issue throughout Alaska. They are trying to figure out if they can take formal positions. "Wrangell is in opposition, and Wrangell is located in Southeast." 9:39:37 AM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said there are workforce safety issues. The Anchorage Police Department said "the hour increase does reduce accidents on our road because of the transportation, and conversely, in the fall, it goes back up when we plunge people back into darkness." She asked Chugach Electric if usage went up or down. Only looking at one year, energy consumption did go down the weekend following DST, but it went up the following weekend. Weather was a bigger factor. The best reason for stopping this madness of flipping clocks and wasting people's time is health. The New England Journal of Medicine in March, 2009, noted that heart attacks increase the first three to five days by five percent "when we jump on to daylight-saving time." Everyone enjoys the extra hour of sleep a lot more than losing it. A 2008 study in Germany found that there is a sensitivity to time changes for those who have seasonal affective disorder or depression. It is like jet lag, which takes its toll on the body, "but you actively choose to do that and you know that you need to get more sleep so you either fly in early or you make up that sleep at another point." But one's health is put at risk. Doctors say that youth have a harder time with the circadian rhythm readjustment. Their hypothalamus is not fully developed. 9:42:46 AM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said there are genuine concerns in business and industry. The best argument is the inconsistency of time "if we were off and the rest of the nation was on." This is a three step process, and the committee has what Representative Fairclough believes is the right first step: having Alaskans stop risking their health and just staying on a consistent time. Hawaii and Arizona are not on DST. Indiana just went on DST and had $9 million in increased energy use. The second step will be a resolution asking the federal government to stop the madness. The third step will be introduced today. It will consider time zones. Western Alaska is at a disadvantage. When it is high noon there, the clocks say 3:00 p.m. It's not healthy. CHAIR MENARD said she works in the dental field, and often has to contact the East Coast during the day. It makes it difficult when seeing an emergency patient, and the East Coast offices are closed by 1 p.m. Alaska time. This bill would add another hour. 9:45:24 AM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said she worked in retail management for years, and she was in contact with the East Coast. She asked businesses what time they start work. Typically staff come in at about 8 o'clock. Every time she called the East Coast at that time, people were out to lunch. A four-hour difference would run into their lunch time. "I understand that we would have to recognize seven months of the year we would be four hours off and five months of the year we would be four hours off." That is why it is a three step process. This should be the first step for health reasons. SENATOR MEYER asked why this was done. "Was it for the farmers so they'd have more time out in the fields?" REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said the history is in the packet. In World Wars I and II, America was faced with energy shortages. By going "dark" we could save money. Farmers were brought into it, but the farming community has been in opposition for years. The cows have to be milked when the cows have to be milked, and jumping the clocks doesn't work. SENATOR MEYER said he grew up on a farm and never knew why the farmers got credit for daylight savings. It is more confusing to have the time difference vary from four hours to five hours. 9:48:33 AM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said, "If you deal with Arizona or Hawaii, it's already happening." It depends on how much someone deals with marketers. "You still would have three hours to communicate." They are the same three hours because they are out to lunch. It is confusing. "They would spring forward; we would not." More Alaskans would live, and that's a good thing. WAYNE STEVENS, President and CEO, Alaska State Chamber of Commerce, said there will be unforeseen economic difficulties associated with the passage of HB 19. The state chamber supports any proposal to eliminate DST at the federal level, because that would maintain the current differentiation in time zones across the United States. Passage of HB 19 should be postponed until there is an exploration of the economic effects on Alaska's businesses. Eliminating DST will disadvantage Alaska businesses by reducing the number of hours to interface with business partners, advisors, customers, and suppliers for a substantial portion of the year. Private and public finance entities will obviously be negatively affected. Digital technology is programmed for daylight savings, and Alaska would have the cost of synchronizing. Alaskans must be assured that vendors would be willing to provide program patches in a timely manner to all equipment and devices, like cell phones, medical equipment, and others that adjust automatically to DST. 9:52:11 AM THOMAS CARBENDER, North Pole, said he figures Alaska has DST because "the folks in Washington DC would like to get in an extra nine." Most electronic devices have a checkbox for DST, so the electronics issue is moot. A website gives plenty of reasons why Alaska shouldn't have daylight savings, and Ms. Koeneman presented most of them. DST is now two weeks earlier, so the older electronics don't even work. The House [of Representatives] has spent a great deal of time on DST, and the conclusion is that Alaska doesn't need it. The Senate has to have three hearings, and so go ahead and hold the other two hearings to get this to the Senate floor for a vote. Most people in Alaska see DST as a pain. "Twice a year you have to fight the clocks and try to figure out what to do and not to mention the health risks and everything else." BOB TOBEY, small business owner, Copper Center, said he lives in rural Alaska and opposes this bill. This will put Alaska behind the East Coast for half of the year. As a business owner that deals with East Coast distributers, this will cost time, money, and convenience. The added delay to the Lower 48 also increases the difficulty in communications with family and friends. Outside travel and connections become more difficult. "We should not increase our isolations by adding another hour delay." He remember the difficulties in the 1970s when Alaska was one to four hours off of the time in the Lower 48. Health studies only look at the impacts on one day a year. What about the health, cost, and inconvenience many Alaskans will have on a much more frequent basis when conducting business? A detailed study of the real costs to Alaskans will likely find it to be overwhelming negative and far outweigh the brief benefit of one hour of extra sleep. He supports one time zone, and it would be far better to stay on DST so at least for half of the year Alaska would only be separated from the East Coast by three hours. 9:56:59 AM PAULA RAK, Wrangell, said she is opposed to HB 19 as she has been every time it comes up. When Alaska first switched from four time zones to one, Southeast Alaska compromised by losing the extra hour of daylight in the evening so it could be on the same time zone as Anchorage. "We're not happy about it, but, none-the-less, that's the way it is." If DST were eliminated it would be as if the Railbelt area were on its original time zone, and Southeast would be two hours off -- "we like being on Pacific Standard time." The bill reneges on a deal that was made years ago. The trend in the states is to have DST. Arizona is the only state left that doesn't have it. DST has been lengthened by starting earlier. She has heard that people want to eventually stay in one time zone all year round and - [she was told to wrap it up]. It is a lifestyle issue. "We would gain an hour in the morning before work when we couldn't use it. The kids would lose an hour of play time after school; we'd all lose an hour of fishing time after work. It's just not worth the inconvenience." 9:59:54 AM LYNN WILLIS, Eagle River, said he has no financial interest in this bill, but he strongly supports HB 19. Alaska's population is 683,000, and they depend on knowing the time of day, and their lives are impacted by DST. There ought to be a clear and compelling reason to keep a law that has such impact. It is not energy savings or public safety. Department of Transportation data showed that vehicle accidents in 2009 decreased following the onset of DST with the caveat that it was dependent on the weather. When sunset is delayed, sunrise is delayed. Making it safer for outdoor activity in the evening makes the same activities less safe the next morning. "Is the clear and compelling reason public health? No." DST forces a change to our internal clocks like traveling between time zones. Recent studies are quantifying the affects of sleep disturbance, and they show an increase in health problems attributable to the onset of this jetlag-like sleep disturbance. DST is not necessary for commerce. Alaska business has relations with Pacific Rim nations, Hawaii, Arizona, and Saskatchewan, none of which use DST. The permanent two-hour difference between Alaska and the Pacific Coast was reduced to one hour with the creation of the current Alaska time zone. Communication technology allows commercial transactions "24-7." Personal convenience is not a compelling reason to mandate use of DST by every Alaskan. DST is not popular with Alaskans. A clear majority either favor the end of DST or have no opinion. Four previous bills calling for the repeal of DST and a bill calling for a statewide referendum have been blocked in various committees. He read a letter from the newspaper. "They say they support the repeal. A lack of sleep may be to blame for the Swedish study that says there's an increase in heart attacks cited in the Readers Digest." For elderly people, they found that it aggravated their health problem. "You owe these people an explanation if you oppose HB 19." 10:03:04 AM JIM ADAMS, Nome, urged support for HB 19. Many people turn the heat down at night, and if the clock is moved up, they have to turn their heat up sooner. He was on a cruise ship, and when the captain announced they were going off DST, everyone cheered. FAITH BARNES, Cordova, said she is in favor of HB 19. Time change contributes to sleep disturbance, depression, and obesity in children and adults. A person who already has a hard time sleeping will have difficulty changing time - it's just another obstacle to overcome. Lack of sleep contributes to depression and that can contribute to eating disorders. Health should come before business. Alaska should do what is best for its people and be a leader and not a follower. SENATOR MEYER said the bill has a few more committees, so he would like it moved. He moved to report CSHB 19(L&C) from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, the motion carried.