Update: Alaska's proposal to ban daylight saving time, House Bill 19, has been defeated in a legislative session in April 2010.
Daylight saving time may become a thing of the past in Alaska, the United States, if the state’s Senate passes a bill to abolish the schedule. The Alaska House of Representatives recently passed the bill (HB19), which is now in the Alaska State Senate’s hands. The bill calls for the state and its political subdivisions to be exempt from the schedule.
The anti-daylight saving bill results from calls from many Alaskans, including state politicians, who want to get rid of daylight saving time in the state. Alaska House of Representatives member Anna Fairclough, who sponsored the bill, expressed her concern about daylight saving time’s impact on people’s health, particularly with regard to disrupted sleep patterns.
House of Representatives Passes Bill
Alaska House of Representatives member Anna Fairclough sponsored the legislation (HB19) in response concerns from constituents and other Alaskans. Ms Fairclough’s office spent time researching about daylight saving time’s effects on Alaskans and gathered local residents’ input on the issue. The House of Representatives passed the bill on March 27, 2009.
“The vote in the House shows that we recognize the health risks that come from changing the clocks twice a year,” Ms Fairclough said. “With the support of the House on record, we will go back to our communities and ask them to continue the discussion. It is important that we have a dialogue about the communication issues businesses may face if we discontinue DST (daylight saving time) in Alaska.”
Most of Alaska (except Aleutian Islands west of 169.30 West, which use HAST/HADT) observes Alaska Standard Time (AKST), which is nine hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-9 hours) during the non-daylight saving period. It observes Alaska Daylight Time (AKDT), which is UTC-8 hours, during the daylight saving period.
The state follows the nation’s daylight saving schedule, which annually runs from the on the second Sunday of March until the first Sunday in November. It is in line with section 110 of the United States’ Energy Policy Act of 2005. However, not all parts of the United States observe daylight saving time and some other states, such as Montana, are questioning the need for the schedule.
Alaska has a history of strong opposition against daylight saving time, especially in recent times. For example, a bipartisan bill to exempt Alaska from daylight saving time passed the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee in Alaska on April 7, 2005. The bill was introduced by politicians who believed that daylight saving time was frustrating and pointless. Alaska House of Representatives member Woodie Salmon, who supported the move to abolish daylight saving time, believed that the schedule was disruptive to sleep cycles and served no purpose given Alaska’s northern latitudes.
The bill came against resistance in the Alaska state legislature, as recorded during the committee minutes. Another Alaska House of Representatives member Jay Ramras opposed any change to the state’s daylight saving schedule. He described Alaska as a unique state because it straddled many global time zones and markets. He also believed that Alaska had the potential to grow as a global financial center due to its unique geography, which he indicated would be a good reason to not tamper with daylight saving time. This bill died at the end of the 2006 legislative session.
Polls have shown that many Alaskans would be happy without daylight saving time. A petition to repeal daylight saving time was made in 2006. It gathered thousands of signatures statewide using only volunteers. Not enough signatures were gathered mainly due to the lack of resources and limited funding.
However, the campaign to eliminate daylight saving time in Alaska recently moved closer towards success. The state’s House of Representatives member Anna Fairclough proposed in early 2009 that the state should abolish daylight saving time. The House of Representatives passed the bill, which is now moved to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.