A move in the Legislature to do away with Daylight Saving Time in Alaska is getting push-back from the business community because it would place them further out of sync with the country's center of commerce on the East Coast.
House Bill 19 would end the bi-annual practice of adjusting clocks an hour forward in the spring and an hour back in the fall, putting the state five hours behind East Coast time, and two hours behind Seattle, for more than half the year.
If Daylight Saving Time were no longer observed, the investment and accounting staff at the Permanent Fund Corporation in Juneau would have to start their days at 4 a.m., Executive Director Mike Burns said.
"I used to get up at that hour when I was 10. I had a paper route," Burns said. "But I didn't have a family."
Several Juneau business professionals who work in banking and investing said it would do more than introduce inconvenient work hours; the change would put the state further out of touch with their counterparts in the Lower 48.
"I think it further isolates us and I don't think that's something we want to strive for," Burns said.
The bill's proponents say the practice of "springing" forward and "falling" back each year causes health problems such as increased heart attacks and cases of seasonal affective disorder.
Western Alaskans generally don't like Daylight Saving Time because it moves their clocks further away from the noon hour falling when the sun is highest in the sky.
It also stretches the dark hours long into the morning during the winter, said Crystal Koeneman, staffer for Rep. Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River, the bill's sponsor.
The bill passed the House but has several committee hearings scheduled in the Senate with two weeks left in the session.
The Alaska State Chamber of Commerce took a position against the bill after a poll of its members indicated 69 percent thought it would negatively affect their businesses.
More than 100 e-mails and phone calls opposing the bill reached Sen. Dennis Egan's office, the Juneau Democrat said. He personally does not like the idea because it would get dark in Juneau an hour earlier in the summer months, eliminating 60 minutes of outdoor recreating time.
It would also get light an hour earlier, but Egan isn't keen on that effect.
"I don't want to go fishing and picnicking at 2 a.m.," he said.
Alaska last switched its time zones in 1983, when four zones were consolidated into two, plus the tip of the Aleutian Chain that's in the Hawaiian-Aleutian timezone.
Discussion last year about permanently switching Southeast to Daylight Saving Time fizzled when lawmakers recognized that Alaska can decide not to observe Daylight Saving Time, like Hawaii and Arizona, but it can't switch its timezone because the zone is federally mandated.
Rep. Cathy Muñoz, R-Juneau, co-sponsored HB 19 and voted for it but said she changed her mind after hearing from the business community.
"I'm definitely open to input and this is one I received a lot of input on," she said, adding that if given another chance she would vote against the bill.
Rep. Beth Kerttula, D-Juneau, has not supported the bill.
Contact reporter Kim Marquis at 523-2279 or email@example.com.
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