Lt. Gov. Loren Leman certified an application for an initiative petition Tuesday that could lead to a ballot measure exempting the entire state of Alaska from daylight-saving time.
If successful at the polls, Alaska would no longer be subject to the annual daylight time change, but would remain on standard time 365 days a year.
Sponsors will need to collect 31,451 signatures from registered Alaska voters 10 percent of those voting in the 2004 general election to qualify the initiative for the ballot. However, under provisions of a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2004, signatures must come from at least seven percent of voters in at least 30 of the 40 House districts.
Sponsors will have one year to collect signatures once petition booklets have been received, the Lt. Governor’s Office said.
The initiative, called 06Day2, is the second daylight time initiative filed by sponsors. The first, 06Days, was withdrawn. Sponsor Lynn Willis, of Eagle River, said the first lacked a clarification provided by the second.
“Alaska still has two time zones, Alaska-Hawaii and Alaska Standard. Alaska-Hawaii does not observe daylight time. We needed to clarify that issue by including the entire state.”
He also said the new initiative states that in exempting itself from daylight time, Alaska would observe standard time. Willis said the statement was required by the federal government, which early in the 20th century found communities opting out of daylight time then setting their own times.
Willis said he hopes to have petition documents in hand as early as Aug. 8. Then will begin a yearlong process of collecting the necessary signatures to place the measure on either the August 2008 primary ballot or the November 2008 general election ballot. Which election is chosen will be up to the Lt. Governor’s office.
The timing for gathering signatures leaves one full session of the Alaska Legislature between that and the election during which lawmakers could forego a ballot measure by passing a substantially similar law exempting Alaska from daylight time.
Joann Jackinsky, of Ninilchik, is also a prime sponsor of the daylight time measure. In an interview earlier this year, she said until 1983 all but a small stretch of the Aleutian Islands has been in the same time zone as Juneau, though previously Nome and Juneau were separated by three time zones. The result: solar noon in Nome occurs around 3 p.m.
“That’s like putting New York City and Los Angeles on the same time,” she said.
Jackinsky also said the change to daylight time affects natural circadian rhythms, which can be detrimental especially to children. Also, noting that the justification for changing from four time zones to two was that it would ease conducting business with the Lower 48, Jackinsky said the advent of e-mail, faxing and Internet commerce has made that issue moot.
“We do business all over the world,” she said.
Beyond that, the natural abundance of daylight during Alaska’s summer makes daylight savings rather pointless, she said.
Public surveys available on the sponsor’s Web site, www.endalaskadaylightsaving.com, show support for ending daylight-saving time.
In a 2005 poll, Hellenthal and Associates found 49.9 percent of respondents favored ending daylight-saving time, with 36.6 opposed and 13.5 percent saying they did not know.
A similar survey conducted by Dittman Research and Communications Corp. in 2004 found that 58 percent of respondents favor keeping Alaska’s clocks on the same time all year, with 37 percent favoring the bi-annual clock switch. Five percent were unsure.
Willis expressed optimism about the outcome.
“Unless something has changed, the consensus of opinion seems to be on our side,” he said. “I don’t think we will have to do a lot of convincing.”
Still, it will require a lot of work to collect the signatures needed, he said.
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