Saturday, November 06, 2010

Daylight Savings Time - Alaska's Failed Legislation to End It

Anchorage sunrise 11/5/10 at 9:41am - this shot 10:15am
Daylight savings time was initially introduced to save energy.  But studies today raise questions about how much energy is actually saved (seems to depend on where you live) and have raised new questions about the negative impact on health.  This National Geographic article summarizes these arguments.  From that article, here's a bit of history:

It wasn't until World War I that daylight savings were realized on a grand scale. Germany was the first state to adopt the time changes, to reduce artificial lighting and thereby save coal for the war effort. Friends and foes soon followed suit.
In the U.S. a federal law standardized the yearly start and end of daylight saving time in 1918—for the states that chose to observe it.
During World War II the U.S. made daylight saving time mandatory for the whole country, as a way to save wartime resources

Here in Alaska, House Bill (HB) 19 was introduced in the first session of the 26th Alaska Legislature by Eagle River representative Anna Fairclough.  But it died.

[Translation:  Each legislature meets for two years - the term of a representative (senators have four years).  So each Legislature has a first session - year one - and a second session - year two.  Alaska became a state in 1959, so by 2009 there had been 25 legislatures of two years for that fifty year span.  In 2009, the 26th Legislature began.  In 2011, the 27th Legislature will begin its two year run. ]

HB 19 wasn't a very long bill:

01 "An Act exempting the state and its political subdivisions from daylight saving time;
02 and providing for an effective date."

04 * Section 1. AS 44.12 is amended by adding a new section to read:
05 Article 5. Standard Time.
06 Sec. 44.12.400. Exemption from daylight saving time. Under 15 U.S.C.
07 260a, this state exempts itself and all of its political subdivisions from observation of
08 advanced time, also known as daylight saving time, between 2:00 a.m. on the second
09 Sunday in March and 2:00 a.m. on the first Sunday in November in each calendar
10 year, and the entire state and all of its political subdivisions shall observe the standard
11 time that is otherwise applicable during that time period.
12 * Sec. 2. This Act takes effect January 1, 2011
[Translation: CS=Committee Substitute, meaning that the original bill has had changes made by one or more of the committees that review the bill and that now stands as the substitute for the original bill.   L&C = Labor and Commerce Committee]

I got to one hearing of this bill on March 18, 2010 where the Senators Menard and Olson took phone testimony on this bill and sponsor Fairclough also testified.  There was a stack of emails and letters that came in on this bill.  At the time I went through them and counted.  There were 62 for HB 19, 18 against, and four had other options, like get the US to change, but not just Alaska.]

From my post at that time:
Rep. Fairclough testifying to Sens. Menard and Olson
Rep. Anna Fairclough, the bill sponsor, responded to the comments received through the mail, email, and by phone today.  She said there were two reasons that have real justification for not changing:

1.  People in Southeast Alaska have a real issue because they are basically in Pacific time, so they get less light in the evening while the sun comes up 3am at solstice.
2.  The difficulty in coordinating with people outside of Alaska.  (I think this was the second one)

 If you have strong feelings about daylight savings time let your legislator know. (That link doesn't reflect this week's election, but most of the incumbents stayed on.)

My personal feelings are that in Alaska it probably doesn't matter one way or the other except in Southeast, which is the result of having the state in one time zone.  In the winter it's going to be dark and in the summer it's going to be light.  And I don't mind getting an extra hour this weekend in the fall.  But I hate losing an hour of weekend in the spring. 

My tweak to daylight savings would be, in the spring, to make the change (skip ahead one hour) at 4pm on Friday afternoon.  Then people at work would get to go home one hour early.  Yes, I know there are all sorts of potential economic impacts, but not much work gets done in the last hour of Friday afternoon anyway and people would feel happy to get a free hour and would spend more on entertainment that weekend to offset the loss.  (Gross generalization based on gut feeling but absolutely no evidence.) 

So remember tomorrow, you've got an extra hour this weekend.  Spend it with your kid(s) or parents. 


  1. Daylight savings time is stupid. Nobody "gets an extra hour of daylight". Many people across the country think we need daylight savings time so that plants can get an extra hour of light. Wow. Have we humans become so weird that we can't change our behavior as the seasons progress--e.g. get up and go to sleep earlier and later to take advantage of daylight? And nothing says workers and employers can't change their work hours seasonally---Many jobs do this already.

  2. Well my plants grow better with more light so why wouldn't Daylight Savings Time be a benefit to plants? Wouldn't that help extend a short growing season? Global warming also will be
    making things grow better too.

    How did Alaska start on Daylight Savings Time?
    Is it in the constitution or is it another law passed by man. If it is not in the constitution then the people and plants need to rise up and throw off the yoke of mans law.

  3. I support time change because it is much better to wake up in the winter morning when there is some light at least.

  4. I am perfectly OK with having DST, or not having it, recognizing that the arguments for its saving energy are not conclusive. However, I have always been amused at the reasons people in my part of the country put forth for opposing it. They say that the cows will get mastitis because they won't know when to give milk (solution: milk them whenever you want, you dolt) and because standard time is God's Time. What a pleasant change to see a state considering the issue on real grounds.

  5. Here's the real reason for DST -- it's a way to put the daylight at the end of the day when people can best use it. With DST we can put that extra hour of light in the morning during the winter when we need it most. In the summer it's already daylight for hours before most of us are up (4:00 am in June on DST) but we get the use of that extra hour of light on those long Alaskan summer evenings we all love. Other than about 4 weeks of "midnight sun" around the solstice,we would have our May, July and August evenings cut short by darkness at 9 pm instead of 10 pm. By September it would be dark by 8 instead of 9. You could kiss goodbye all those evenings of outdoor recreation after work, and instead be blessed with sunrise at 3 am instead of 4 am. I love my summer evenings, and don't want to lose them. Keep DST!

  6. AKSundog - first, I want to point out this post was written last year. I couldn't find a new bill this year searching "Daylight Savings" or even just "Daylight" on Basis.

    Second, I'm guessing that you are in Southeast Alaska. That was where most of the protest came from citing exactly the same arguments you are listing.

    Does it make sense to have more than on time zone in Alaska again?


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