Support For Daylight Saving Bill Falls Back

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After sailing through the Senate, a bill to exempt Alaska from daylight saving time has lost momentum in the House.

At a press availability on Thursday, House Speaker Mike Chenault said there was uncertainty regarding the bill’s fate.

“Me, personally? I kind of support it,” said Chenault. “But how it’s going to do in the House, I can’t tell you.”

The bill would make it so Alaskans do not need to move their clocks forward in the springtime, and then back again in the fall. Because that would cause Alaska to be five hours behind the East Coast for much of the year, there is also a provision that would allow the state to petition for a time zone change covering all or part of the state.

The bill was popular in the Senate, earning the vote of all but four members. Supporters pointed to health benefits that come from abandoning daylight saving time. But Chenault, a Nikiski Republican, has heard more opposition to the bill recently.

“Now that it’s moved over to the House, it seems like there’s numerous people — business people — calling and having concerns,” said Chenault.

Most of the opposition has come from Southeast. Because it is at the eastern end of the Alaska time zone and the sun sets earlier in the region, the loss of an hour of light in the evening would be noticeable in the summer. The tourism and aviation industries have said it would affect their operations, by reducing shopping and flying hours.

But there also recreational concerns. Chenault noted that rifle range hours could be cut. Anchorage Republican Lance Pruitt listed a few more impacts.

“Golfers will lose an hour in the summer,” said Pruitt. “And I know this seems silly, but we’re about to mess with football.”

The bill has been referred to two committees in the House, but has not yet been scheduled for hearings.

Gov. Walker has not offered a position on the bill.