A Senate committee advanced legislation Tuesday that would eliminate daylight saving time in Alaska and allow for consideration of another time zone in the state.
The bill would exempt Alaskans from advancing their clocks each spring. It would also direct the governor to ask the U.S. Department of Transportation to consider moving part or all of Alaska to Pacific time.
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Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, originally proposed the bill to end daylight saving time in Alaska, then introduced the amendment to consider another time zone.
Most of Alaska is on one time zone, although Adak — at the far western end of the state — is in the Hawaii-Aleutian time zone, one hour behind the rest of the state.
An online survey from MacKinnon's office found overwhelming support among respondents for eliminating daylight saving time. The bulk of the respondents were from south-central and Interior Alaska.
The majority of testimony during Tuesday's Senate Finance Committee hearing, however, came from Southeast residents who said they were concerned about the proposed change and the impacts to several industries, including tourism, transportation and finance.
Craig Dahl from the Juneau Chamber of Commerce said his members generally opposed the change, raising two concerns: losing evening daylight and having the time zone shift relative to other places. Allowing Southeast to join Pacific time could fix the evening daylight issue, he said.
Jim Parise from the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp.'s fixed income division said eliminating daylight saving time in Alaska could make it more difficult to recruit staff because employees would need to show up an hour earlier at 4 a.m. to be in sync with New York financial markets, reducing their time to spend with family in the evenings. Another time zone could help alleviate that, he said.
An aide to MacKinnon said that the U.S. Department of Transportation would primarily consider the impacts on commerce when deciding whether or not to change Alaska's time zone.