Sunday, March 08, 2009

KTUU Channel 2 Poll Shows 77 Percent Of Respondents Want Alaska Off Daylight Savings Time, And Rep. Anna Fairclough Offers HB19 As A Remedy

A KTUU Channel 2 "unscientific" poll taken on March 7th, 2009 indicates that 77 percent of respondents want to quit observing daylight savings time in Alaska.

Question: Should Alaska continue to observe daylight-saving time?
-- Yes: 23 percent
-- No: 77 percent

This sentiment is not new. For years, a majority of Alaskans have grown tired of setting multiple clocks back and forth twice a year, since most derive no tangible benefit from it. Other states such as Arizona and Hawaii stay on standard time year round with no ill effects. Some state lawmakers previously attempted to relieve us of the burden, but to no avail. The most recent effort was in 2007.

However, the latest legislative effort, also described in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, appears more promising. Sponsored by Rep. Anna Fairclough (R-Eagle River) and co-sponsored by Rep. Cathy Munoz (R-Juneau), HB19 is a simple straightforward bill which will exempt Alaska from daylight savings time. The bill is currently in the Community & Regional Affairs (CRA) Committee, where it will receive a public hearing on Thursday March 12th at 8 A.M. via teleconference. If you want to know to whom to apply the "leverage", here's the list of CRA Committee members:

-- Bob Herron (D-Bethel), Co-Chair
-- Cathy Munoz (R-Juneau), Co-Chair
-- John Harris (R-Valdez)
-- Wes Keller (R-Wasilla)
-- Sharon Cissna (D-Anchorage)
-- Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage)
-- Berta Gardner (D-Anchorage)

Contact information for lawmakers available HERE. The most productive way might be to send an e-mail to your own House member, and either CC or BCC each committee member listed above. A companion bill introduced by Rep. Fairclough is HJR20, which simply calls upon Congress to repeal DST; it's moved forward to Labor & Commerce.

The only one of the above lawmakers who might be most opposed to it is Rep. Cissna. The rest may either favor it or be open to favorable arguments. Rep. Fairclough says that her research indicates that daylight-savings time may be less energy efficient and disruptive of people's sleeping patterns. And in polling conducted by her staff, Fairclough found that of 364 respondents, 264 favor repealing DST. Another 68 are opposed, while 12 said they don’t much care one way or the other. Some in business communities want better communication with Outside business and lean toward consistency. Some educators said students really show the effects of changing sleep patterns at each switch with declining performance in school. But other people, particularly in Southeast, seem to like the extra hour of evening daylight granted by the spring switch and take advantage of outdoor opportunities such as kayaking the waters after work.

According to the website, proponents of time change cite safety as a reason; they believe that if we have more daylight at the end of the day, we will have fewer accidents. However, this "benefit" comes only at the cost of less daylight in the morning. When year-round daylight time was tried in 1973, one reason it was repealed was because of an increased number of school bus accidents in the morning. Further, a study of traffic accidents throughout Canada in 1991 and 1992 by Stanley Coren of the University of British Columbia before, during, and immediately after the so-called "spring forward" when DST begins in April. Alarmingly, he found an eight percent jump in traffic accidents on the Monday after clocks are moved ahead. He attributes the jump to the lost hour of sleep.

In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Coren explained, "These data show that small changes in the amount of sleep that people get can have major consequences in everyday activities." He undertook the study as a follow up to research showing that even an hour's change can disrupt sleep patterns and "persist for up to five days after each time shift." Other observers attribute the huge spike in accidents on the first Monday of DST to the sudden change in the amount of light during driving times. Regardless of the reason, there is no denying that changing our clocks has a significant cost in human lives.

Another excellent if somewhat passionate rebuttal of the need for daylight savings time can be read HERE. Also visit the EndAlaskaDST website for more rebuttals. Quite frankly, I don't care if we're on standard time or daylight time year round. What I want is to stop changing clocks every year. This may be trivial to some readers, but it's a real burr in the saddle to many. We should be reducing the burden of government upon people whenever possible.

And taking Alaska off daylight savings time would be a smart and simple way to reduce the burden of government upon the citizenry. It might even make us more supportive of that proposed legislative pay raise.

1 comment:

  1. Sexual predators love the dark! And this bill will give them an hour head start, after school in South East Alaska. Bravo! Great thinking. This Bill is for the most northern convenience, with zero regard to South-East Alaskans use of after work/school natural light. In 1983 a scientific 5 state time zone was reduced to 2 time zones. This stole an hour of evening light. And now you want another. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Honest to God given light you should. Arrogant self serving, and at the cost of healthy living in SE AK. You steal from kids.