Sunday, March 11, 2007

Alaskan Sponsoring Citizens Initiative To End Daylight Savings Time In Alaska

Lynn Willis is an Eagle River resident who, like over half of Alaskans, is sick and tired of this twice-annual clock-changing madness. Adding insult to injury is the fact that this year, Daylight Savings Time came three weeks earlier than normal, thanks to Congressional tinkering. Daylight Savings Time is touted as an energy-saving device; by generating more light during peak energy use evening hours, Daylight Savings Time supposedly reduces energy demand and consumption during this peak period. Graphic courtesy of the Courier-Journal.

However, Willis is taking his objections one step further. He's sponsoring a Citizens Initiative to allow Alaskan voters the opportunity to end Daylight Savings Time in Alaska - permanently! You can find out more about this effort at the website.

Willis recently described these efforts in a Compass column published in the Anchorage Daily News on March 10th, 2007. In his column, entitled "Changing Clocks Is A Waste Of Time", he debunks some of the mythology surrounding the value of Daylight Savings Time and shows how it is actually irrelevant in Alaska. Here's the most pertinent part of his column.

Anchorage residents already use less energy when our days are longer and our temperatures are higher. Do you notice a savings in energy because we change to daylight-saving time? Has any utility in Alaska claimed an energy savings by use of daylight-saving time?

In 1983, three of the original four time zones that covered Alaska were merged into a single time zone. Clocks in Anchorage were advanced permanently one hour. Every year, during daylight-saving time, we advance clocks an additional hour.

To see the effect of this fiddling with our clocks, please look at the weather section in today's paper. The graphic showing length of day will show the middle of the daylight period to be at 1 p.m. After we go on Daylight-saving time, the center will be at 2 p.m. During summer months, the sun is highest in Anchorage at 2 p.m.

Daylight-saving time in Alaska has been used since the 1960s. Apparently the purpose of advancing clocks was to enhance business communication with the Lower 48 states when they were using daylight-saving time. This may have been important when communication with Seattle required a hard-wired desk telephone in each city and an operator at the switchboard.

Now, modern business communications use technologies such as the Internet, cell phones, faxes and other methods that weren't even imagined in the 1960s. You can communicate for business or personal reasons 24/7. Also, business in Anchorage involves markets in China and Japan where daylight-saving time is not used. When you advance an hour to be closer to Seattle, you also move an hour away from China and Japan. International business is conducted using GMT (Greenwich Mean Time), which has no regard for local time zones. Where I work, midnight occurs at 3 p.m. each day.

We average 19 hours of daylight during high summer. Does it really matter whether it gets dark at 11 P.M. or midnight? Hardly. In addition, why should we hold the entire state hostage to business communication? The Internet and e-mail capability enable businesses to communicate at any time. And finally, switching to Daylight Savings Time in late winter actually prolongs darkness in the morning, when kids are traveling to school. This prolongs their exposure to corresponding traffic hazards.

Furthermore, a 2004 Dittman Research survey showed that 55% of Anchorage respondents favored ending the use of Daylight Savings Time. A 2005 Hellenthal poll showed that nearly 50% wanted to end Daylight Savings Time, and only 37% opposed. The Alaska Constitution recognizes the privacy of citizens. With the absence of any proof that Alaskans are saving money on energy, this silliness should end.

Repeal of daylight-saving time has been before the Alaska State Legislature in 1999, 2002, and 2006. Each time debate was stifled by committee chairmen who would not allow hearings or would not allow the legislation to pass from their committee. This failure to allow debate is the primary reason Willis is now sponsoring his proposed initiative.

On his website, Lynn Willis states that his group will attempt to have the End Alaska Daylight Saving Time Initiative Petition for Alaskans to sign at the Anchorage Barnes and Noble Book Store each Sunday from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. An additional 31,451 signatures (as of March 11th) must be procured by August 15th, 2007.

Residents of the following Alaskan communities have volunteered to collect signatures: Anchorage, Anchor Point, Bethel, Savoonga, Gamble, Dillingham, Skagway, Fairbanks, Homer, Chignik, Eagle River, Chickaloon, Hoonah, Palmer, Wasilla, Kenai and Talkeetna.

Willis advises us that the state legislature can still repeal DST in Alaska during this legislative session. Contact your Representative and Senator as soon as possible.

Click HERE to find out who your lawmakers are.

Click HERE to find out how to contact your lawmakers.

Too bad the Libertarian Party of Alaska doesn't get involved in this initiative. Getting rid of DST would reduce the burden of government. Sounds like a libertarian issue to me. Just think how libertarian Assembly candidates Jason Dowell (Midtown) and Alex Crawford (East Anchorage) could shotgun their campaigns by latching on to this issue.

Those outside of Alaska interested in ending Daylight Savings Time nationally can visit the website to learn of their efforts.

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