- Session Laws
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS
Apr 23, 2005
HB 176-ELIMINATE DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME
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.
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].
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
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.
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]."
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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
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
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.
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.
MR. POOR added that he likes Representative Gardner's suggested
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]."
REPRESENTATIVE SALMON indicated that one question to ask is
whether the state should be "stuck on" daylight saving time or
[HB 176 was heard and held.]