Daniels Signs Daylight-Saving Time Into Law

Published: May. 13, 2005 at 5:11 PM EDT|Updated: May. 20, 2005 at 10:55 AM EDT
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(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Gov. Mitch Daniels quietly signed into law Friday legislation that would move all of Indiana's 92 counties to daylight time for the first time since most of the state opted out under state and federal legislation passed in the early 1970s.

Indiana will make the switch next April, leaving Hawaii and most of Arizona as the only places in the United States to ignore daylight time.

But before Hoosiers change their clocks, the federal government could decide to change what time zone they'll be in -- and that could spark a new time war, some lawmakers and residents say.

The proposal renewed statewide debate over the issue and drew intense media coverage, but Daniels signed the bill privately. He said there was only so much time for ceremonial signings, and he singled out bills he considered more important for such occasions.

Of Indiana's 92 counties, 77 are in the Eastern time zone and do not observe daylight time. Five in southeastern Indiana ignore state and federal law and change their clocks, while five counties each in the northwest and southwest pockets of the state are in the Central zone and observe daylight time.

The new law gives Daniels 10 days to ask the U.S. Department of Transportation, which regulates time zones, to hold hearings to determine if those boundaries should be changed.

Daniels lobbied hard for the change to daylight time, saying it would boost commerce and eliminate confusion. He said during his campaign that moving most counties to the Central zone would best unify the state.

But since taking office, he has been vague about whether boundaries should be changed.

The new law suggests to the federal government that the 10 counties in the Central zone should remain there, and the five in southeastern Indiana that observe daylight time should stay in the Eastern zone. But it does not state a preference for the other 77 counties.

Daniels told The Associated Press this week that if the agency insists on recommendations, he might ask legislators for input before filing the petition or file a preliminary petition in hopes the state would have more time to decide suggested changes.

He acknowledged that a consensus won't be easily reached.

"It's clear to me that there are very few places where everybody sees this the same way," he said.

Efforts to make the statewide switch had failed more than two dozen times before lawmakers narrowly approved daylight time last month.

Republican state Rep. Jerry Torr of Carmel, the bill's primary sponsor, said he will form a group that will lobby to keep central Indiana in the Eastern zone. That would give residents there an extra hour of daylight during spring and summer evenings, he said, whereas a move to the Central zone under daylight-saving time would not.

But Democratic Rep. Dave Crooks of Washington, a daylight time foe, wants the 77 counties in question moved to the Central zone because it's a better geographic fit.Regardless, he said the issue will be difficult to resolve.

"The reason there is no consensus on this issue is that Hoosiers have no consensus on this issue," he said.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)