Legislature(2015 - 2016)BUTROVICH 205
02/10/2015 09:00 AM Senate STATE AFFAIRS
Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.
Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 6-ELIMINATE DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME 9:02:10 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced that the business before the committee was the consideration of SB 6. 9:02:30 AM SENATOR ANNA MACKINNON, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, provided a sponsor's overview as follows: SB 6 is requesting a conversation with the people of Alaska about the repeal of Daylight Saving Time (DST). As many of you know in 1784, Benjamin Franklin in an effort to save "wax and wicks" suggested that we could change the time that we do our daily living activities and save energy. DST was first implemented in the United States in 1918 and in 1966, America adopted the Uniform Time Act. In 2005, the Energy Policy Act extended DST, we're now participating in the moving forward of one hour every day for almost 7 months. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I don't have any personal ambition about repealing DST or not, but I would like to bring to your attention is some of the effects that DST has differently than other states on Alaskans, and Americans in general. 9:02:59 AM SENATOR COGHILL joined the committee meeting. SENATORY MCGUIRE joined the committee meeting. SENATOR MACKINNON reviewed statistics from a study referring to health consequences from DST as follows: I know each of you are aware of the heavy incidences of suicide in Alaska. I alluded to this in a previous session. When I first brought forward DST I asserted that there may be a relationship between suicide and DST and it's just the flipping, it's the changing of times and how everyone's body associates itself with the sun. We are creatures of this world and the sun and the moon actually does have an effect on our wellbeing and as we move back and forth between these two times that are artificially put before us by the U.S. Government, we are affecting people's health. In your packets there are studies, we have studies that show that heart attack rates for men in the first 24 or 48 hours coming out of DST in March that your heart attack rates increase by almost 5 percent; as well, we have a study that shows the rates of suicide for men. There's also issues regarding safety in the workplace and car crashes that happen more frequently in the spring. We have feedback from across the state, but specifically Northwest Alaska regarding attendance issues in schools as well as testing issues for our students and how students actually have lower performance rates when we move on and off of DST. While I haven't provided it, I do have the documentation for you, we have studies regarding energy and the increased energy cost, at least in Indiana when they moved on to DST and they saw an increase of $9 million overall for that increase. What I'm here to tell you is in the past we've moved on and off because of energy issues because of DST and while that may or may not be a fact, from my perspective, we have adverse health effects with this flipping on and off. 9:06:13 AM SENATOR MAKINNON addressed support for SB 6 as follows: I always like to know who is in support and who is in opposition to different pieces of legislation so that we may make sure we bring those particular constituencies to the table when we talk about policy issues that could affect businesses or health. So I would just advise you that some feedback I've received is from the financial markets, they are concerned that moving off of DST would create their employees having to come to work one hour earlier, so we would be off of Wall Street per se by five hours for almost seven months out of the year, so that is a concern that those employees would have to come to work earlier; but, I would refer you to other personal testimony, Mr. Dan Cuddy, [Chairman] of First National Bank Alaska, is in favor of moving the time zone, that's just one instance of people with different perspectives of this issue, but I wanted to make sure you knew that from a financial perspective people would have to come to work earlier, possibly to meet those markets or change the way that they do business in some way. To counteract that particular assertion, we do have people that believe that technology has brought us a long way and that those business practices could be accommodated in this world for Alaska. The second group I have heard from when I carried this bill in the past was the networks and the networks said that they may have trouble bringing live TV, like a live football game may be a challenge because of timing issues; so to try to address that particular need we extended the effective date out until 2017 so that those that had to schedule things like Alaska Airlines who we are reaching out to and others that have scheduling issues, cruise ships as an example, that they would have a full year and a half to implement changes and so they could respond. So we have tried to be responsive to people who have suggested troubles for their particular industry. In addition, I had a group of individuals before me yesterday during a meeting environment that was talking to me about DST, those are private tourism companies that have direct schedules to when a cruise ship docks and the specific folks spoke to me yesterday said there may be difficulty getting the last helicopter flight or the last air flight during the evening if we moved forward in time and stayed there. In favor of DST opposition I believe are over 50 percent of Alaskans. We have a survey that is opening up online right now, that's at AlaskaSenate.org\DST. The last time I had this legislation we had over 500 people from across the Alaska, specifically our teachers in Northwest Alaska and as I've said before, are supportive and talked to increased disruption I their classroom. 9:09:42 AM SENATOR MACKINNON summarized that the DST issue is very important to Alaskans. She noted that she had introduced similar legislation six years prior and added that Senator Wielechowski also introduced a bill during the Session. She said the difference between the bill she introduced 6 years ago and SB 6 was that the previous bill was tied to specific DST dates. She explained that the federal government can change dates at any time and Alaska would then randomly be forced back on DST. She said SB 6 is tied directly to the federal government's code on time versus the specific dates. She added that the effective date is further out to accommodate those that may be adversely effected by scheduling. 9:10:28 AM CHAIR STOLTZE asked Senator MacKinnon to address the effects from Alaska's time zone consolidation in 1983. SENATOR MACKINNON noted that Southeast Alaska is geographically opposed. She noted that Southeast Alaska had given up an hour from consolidation. She pointed out that Southeast Alaska used to be linked to Seattle and they still believe their economy is crucially linked to Seattle. She said Southeast Alaska feels like they have already given up their hour as a team effort for the whole state to align. She specified that there are currently two time zones, Adak and further west is on Hawaii Time. CHAIR STOLTZE asked how many time zones Alaska had prior to the consolidation. SENATOR MACKINNON answered five. CHAIR STOLTZE commented that Alaska had more time zones than the Continental U.S. SENATOR MACKINNON added that her original attempt was to advance Alaska's time zone and stay off of DST so Alaska would be three hours off of the stock markets and aligned with Seattle. She revealed that Alaska was told that the state could not do that. She said SB 6 is specific about the revolving back-and-forth issue that is directly related to health that is supported with statistics. She conceded that an additional conversation is needed at some point to address the consolidation of five time zones. She noted that the Northwest Arctic's students are impacted from the artificial time change when the sun is at its highest at 3:00 p.m. rather than noon. She stated that sun-time has a significant impact on health. She revealed that while serving on Alaska's Suicide Prevention Council, she hypothesized whether there could be an issue with Alaska's sun-time versus suicide rates and noted that she did not have any proven studies when she carried her previous bill six years ago. She asserted that she now has some initial research that addresses sun-time versus suicide rates. CHAIR STOLTZE asked what authorizing entities must be contacted for time zone changes and inquired what the next steps are should SB 6 pass. SENATOR MACKINNON replied that a letter would be issued by the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) to the federal government for the state to make a case for changing a time zone. 9:13:36 AM ERIN SHINE, Staff, Senator Mackinnon, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, explained that changing a time zone requires a two-step process. She specified that the state would have to exempt itself from the Uniform Time Act and then either pass a resolution or executive order to petition the U.S. DOT. CHAIR STOLTZE noted that Senator Wielechowski has a companion bill. He asked Senator Wielechowski for any comments. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI explained that he has met with Senator MacKinnon and supports SB 6. He noted that when he first ran for office going door-to-door, he was surprised at the magnitude of feeling that people have about DST. He revealed that he surveyed his constituents a year ago and 75 percent supported changing DST. CHAIR STOLTZE commented that the feeling from constituents is probably higher during March and October. SENATOR HUGGINS concurred that his constituents feel the same as Senator Wielechowski's constituents. He asked if the Administration supports SB 6. SENATOR MACKINNON answered that a request was made to meet with the Governor's office and to date there has not been a response that allows her to ask the question. SENATOR HUGGINS noted that receiving word from the Administration is important in order to unite the regions and understand the rational and the Administration is the right place to do that. He apologized for addressing DST over the past years because it is artificial and people realize that. He commended Senator Mackinnon for taking on the DST task once again. 9:16:21 AM SENATOR MCGUIRE noted that she has supported the DST change in the past. She said a series of economic and health impacts were noted and pointed out that the committee had not heard whether the Chamber of Commerce supported SB 6 due to possible DST impact on workplace efficiency. MS. SHINE noted two DST studies that show a financial impact on businesses where an increase in non-work related websites are accessed as well as an increase in workplace injuries during the time switch in the spring when an hour is lost. SENATOR MACKINNON noted that an article pointed out that thousands of hours are lost as far as gross domestic product by just changing mechanical clocks twice a year. SENATOR COGHILL asked why the U.S. DOT must be involved. SENATOR MACKINNON explained that the U.S. DOT acts as a central location to notify other countries. She reiterated that the state has to make a case for a time zone change with a resolution. 9:19:47 AM SENATOR COGHILL asked if the Governor is involved in the time zone change request. MS. SHINE replied that to change Alaska's time zone, the state would have to petition or pass a resolution requesting the U.S. DOT to change the state's time zones. SENATOR COGHILL asked if a resolution should be prepared in anticipation of a time zone change. SENATOR MACKINNON replied that she will let Senator Coghill know as soon as she talks to the Governor. CHAIR STOLTZE explained that in 1983, Governor Sheffield made the personal request to then Secretary of Transportation, Elizabeth Dole during the Regan Administration. He specified that a state generally asks permission for a time zone change rather than demanding a change from the federal government. MS. SHINE answered that Chair Stoltze is correct. SENATOR HUGGINS stated that to say Alaska is in a different time zone is an understatement. He noted that the number of days to gain 1 hour of daylight after DST is 6 days in Barrow and 40 days in Miami. CHAIR STOLTZE announced that the committee will proceed to public testimony. 9:22:44 AM LYNN WILLIS, representing himself, Eagle River, Alaska, Supports SB 6. He said most Alaskans want to stop DST. He pointed out that he is concerned that the bill will meet the same fate as five previous bills that did not pass the Legislature since 1999. He stated that the 1983 time zone change placed Alaska's southcentral and western communities on permanent DST. He noted that DST causes problems with the human circadian rhythm where the sun is at its highest during DST at 2:00 p.m. in Anchorage, 3:00 p.m. in Kotzebue and Nome. He opined that proponents have argued that DST is necessary for commerce, a claim that is no longer valid due to the impact from the internet's 24 hour a day business cycle. He said DST works in the temperate zones and tends not to work in the polar or equatorial regions where the length of day either varies significantly or hardly at all. He stated that when DST was moved up a month, mornings without daylight were extended which makes for dangerous working conditions for outdoor workplaces. He summarized that DST does not save energy and noted that no testimony has ever been given or information provided that cites energy savings in Alaska. 9:27:50 AM CHAIR STOLTZE noted that he is a co-sponsor for SB 6. He revealed that Senator MacKinnon's previous legislation passed through the House Finance Committee. 9:28:25 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced that committee will stand at ease. 9:28:37 AM CHAIR STOLTZE called the committee back to order. He stated that now is the time for the Administration to step forward and note their issues or concerns. He asked Senator MacKinnon if she had any questions for the Administration. SENATOR MACKINNON noted that the financial impact on the state changing its "mechanicals" twice a year is not known. CHAIR STOLTZE asked Mr. Mayer for a comment on DST's fiscal or technical impacts on the state. 9:30:02 AM THOMAS MAYER, Director, Division of General Services, Alaska Department of Administration (DOA), Juneau, Alaska, explained that the DOA manages approximately 20 buildings and the vast majority are on electronic systems that automatically adjusts. He specified that electronic systems are simple to adjust and there is minimal savings if Alaska goes off of DST. He said for the buildings that DOA manages, most have had a significant amount of energy work done. He asserted that the DOA does not see any fiscal impact to the department at all. CHAIR STOLTZE stated that it is hard to put a value on a happier, healthier, more rested workforce. MR. MAYER replied that what Chair Stoltze noted is pretty hard to do from a facility standpoint. He pointed out that he was speaking specifically from a facility standpoint and did not claim to have personal knowledge of whether or not having DST will make him healthier or not. SENATOR COGHILL asked Mr. Mayer if the DOA manages some of the DOT's facilities. MR. MAYER answered no. He explained that the DOA strictly manages facilities assigned by the Legislature or the Administration. He specified that DOA manages 12 public building fund buildings and 6 non-public building fund buildings which are traditionally non-office space buildings that are warehouse type buildings. He specified that DOT manages their own buildings and noted that they have a very large portfolio of buildings as well. SENATOR COGHILL asked if there is anything that Mr. Mayer would find in opposing the resolution he previously proposed to the Administration to exempt the state from DST. MR. MAYER answered no. SENATOR COGHILL noted that DOT should be on the record due to their impact from DST. CHAIR STOLTZE opined that there is consensus to move SB 6 out of committee. He asserted that all of the Administration's departments should provide comments on any DST challenges. 9:34:21 AM JAY BUTLER, MD, Chief Medical Officer, and Director, Division of Public Health, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Anchorage, Alaska. CHAIR STOLTZE announced that the committee will not ask Dr. Butler to take a position and asked for general comments. He stated that Dr. Butler's input will not be viewed as the Administration's position. DR. BUTLER addressed the increased rates of heart attaches after the period DST takes effect and pointed out that the study came from Sweden, an Arctic region rather than a temperate area. He noted another study that revealed increased rates of motor vehicle accidents during the day after the one hour DST change in the spring. He revealed that he had recently looked at the seasonality of suicide. He explained that there is a peak in suicide in mid-summer and another in November. He stated that he cannot say that there is a causation in November is due to the change back to standard time from DST. CHAIR STOLTZE thanked Dr. Butler and asked if anyone would like to testify. 9:36:55 AM MIKE STEDMAN, business owner, Wings Airways, Juneau, Alaska, explained that Wings Airways is a tour operator business that caters to the cruise ships in the summer time. He added that Alaska Seaplanes is also a business that he owns that acts as a small commuter airline that flies throughout Southeast Alaska. He said he opposes SB 6 because in the summer time, as the daylight starts to dwindle, there are late trips that will be impacted because of the daylight issue. He explained that floatplanes cannot land on water during darkness. He revealed that Wings Airways' cruise ship business will realize a 20 percent reduction in tours as well as a loss of charter business on Alaska Seaplanes due to the loss of DST. He asserted that SB 6 is a commerce issue that will cause a big impact with a 20 percent loss in revenue for his business. 9:38:50 AM MIKE WILSON, member, Leadership Council, National Federation of Independent Business-Alaska, Juneau, Alaska, noted that he operates an aviation business in Juneau and stated that his business finds DST to be an inconvenience. CHAIR STOLTZE noted that Mr. Wilson's company is a helicopter tour business. MR. WILSON answered correct. SENATOR COGHILL noted that the timeline for the bill's sponsor takes the movement of cruise ships into account. He asked if Mr. Wilson's company is in the tourism business. MR. WILSON answered correct. He stated that his business will not be affected because his permits require tours to be completed by 8:00 p.m. CHAIR STOLTZE asked if Mr. Wilson's permit is based on a local ordinance. MR. WILSON answered that the permits are federal and regulated by the U.S. Forest Service. 9:40:41 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced that public testimony is closed. He asked Senator MacKinnon if she had spoken to the education community regarding DST's impact. SENATOR MACKINNON replied that her office is reaching out to every opportunity that it can. She said that she will verify that her staff has reached out to all of the school districts in Alaska. CHAIR STOLTZE noted that a principal in his district is addressing DST to advise the district's superintendent. SENATOR MACKINNON specified that she does not want to adversely affect any business. She said after she heard from Mr. Stedman, she reached out to the cruise industry and noted that Mr. Stedman had indicated that it is difficult to change the schedules for the cruise ship because her intention is not to harm anyone but to help people in any way possible. She conceded that there are tradeoffs and asserted that the health aspect is the overwhelming concern for her in advancing SB 6. She said she will run the numbers in the Senate Finance Committee to absolutely understand how businesses will be disadvantaged by SB 6. 9:43:10 AM CHAIR STOLTZE stated that he is confident that Senator MacKinnon will continue to research the bill's pros and cons. He said he has no discomfort in moving SB 6 forward and noted the bill's zero fiscal note. He added that Senator MacKinnon will further study any impacts and noted that the Administration certainly has a right to change the fiscal note. SENATOR MACKINNON stated that her purpose is to have a policy discussion in front of the people of Alaska. She noted that she had discussions with the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation and the Department of Revenue regarding the negative impact from SB 6 due to the added time difference when dealing with the financial markets. She reiterated that her concern pertains to the issue of health. She said she would consider a second step to review Alaska's time zones after DST is addressed. She reiterated that the state's legal department revealed that Alaska cannot change to permanent DST. SENATOR COGHILL commented that every policy the committee brings up uncovers another need for policy. He opined that the time zone really answers more to the objections of this bill than almost anything that he has seen so far. He said if the state is going to be under one time zone, then the flexibility between the furthest east and the furthest west are just going to be in huge tension with DST highlighting that. He asked if there is anything the Legislature can do to help bring the time zone issue up. He assumed that the time zone change is a federal issue. He inquired if a resolution is required for a time zone change. 9:45:22 AM SENATOR MACKINNON replied that she has reached out to Alaska's congressional delegation. She pointed out that different states at different times are all trying to get off of DST and specified that time-flipping is a health problem. She noted that Dr. Butler had suggested that time-flipping is similar to jet- lag where some people require 5 to 10 days to adjust. She summarized that there is nothing that can be done at the current time except recognizing DST's health consequences followed by addressing Southeast Alaska's business issues. She asserted that Alaska's northern and western communities, especially children, struggle with being three hours off of their circadian rhythm. She noted that March and November are higher points of suicide rates in Alaska and she is trying to see if the rates occur after the DST changes. She opined that the state is having huge issues and dealing with DST from a biological perspective is the right way to go. 9:48:10 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI noted that switching permanently to DST solves a lot of the business community issues. He asked what Senator MacKinnon's concerns are with switching to permanent DST. SENATOR MACKINNON answered that she is in favor of a permanent DST and noted that she had originally asked the Legislature's legal department to look at permanent DST. She revealed that the legal department said the state could not switch to permanent DST. She added that the National Conference of State Legislatures revealed that several other states were actually proceeding with eliminating DST. She added that changing DST and time zones at the same time previously delayed legislation. She reiterated that addressing Alaska's time zones should occur after the state is taken off of DST. CHAIR STOLTZE noted that he erred in saying that there was a fiscal note. He added that the Administration has the opportunity to express any concerns or potential costs. 9:50:17 AM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI moved that the committee move SB 6, [29- LS0111\H], out of committee with individual recommendations and zero fiscal note. 9:50:27 AM CHAIR STOLTZE announced that hearing no objection, SB 6 moves from committee.