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Resident asks about time issue at meeting

Monday, February 7, 2005

While the topic was skirted several times during theClay County Cracker Barrel meeting Saturday, a question by an audience member was the catalyst for a discussion of a statewide move to daylight saving time.

"Now we've broached the subject," Rep. Clyde Kersey said in response to the question posed by G.T. Runyan.

"All 92 counties should be on the same time."

While 80 percent of constituents in Kersey's district are opposed to the switch, there are 10 counties in Indiana operating at an alternate time.

Kersey said he didn't understand how the counties on different times than the rest of the state were reaping more benefits, and doesn't plan to vote for a change.

"I'm on the fence right now," Rep. Andy Thomas said.

Gov. Mitch Daniels included the time change as part of the economic package, with an explanation that businesses in Indianapolis, such as FedEx, claim to lose money due to scheduling challenges. Thomas said he plans to keep his options open and hasn't committed to a decision either way, and stressed the importance of sticking to a decision rather than addressing the issue every few years.

He also shared daylight saving time research with the audience, noting that traffic fatalities are reduced by 5 percent during daylight hours. Some parents are concerned with children waiting for school buses in the dark on winter mornings, but with Central Daylight Saving Time, that worry could be eliminated.

"There would be an extra hour of daylight in the morning," he said. "Whenever there is more daylight, there are fewer traffic fatalities or pedestrian fatalities."

Crime rates also go down during daylight hours, he said, citing burglary, rape and drug-related criminal acts as examples of activities that multiply during dark hours. While crime certainly wouldn't be eliminated or dramatically decrease, Eastern Daylight Saving Time, which adds an hour of light in the evening, could be beneficial.

Eastern Daylight Saving Time also contributes to a 1 percent energy savings in the summer, when the days of sweltering heat hike air conditioning usage.

California has shown savings of $900 million in energy costs, but Thomas said he is unsure how he will cast his vote.

"I don't want to do anything California does," he said. "I take seriously that I represent this district. I feel it's my obligation to tell you what's on my mind about the issue."

Tincher pointed out that regardless of how legislators vote, the hours of light and darkness will remain the same.

"My philosophy is God gave us 24 hours," Tincher said. His comment met with a smattering of applause. "I don't like to spring forward or fall back. I don't like to change my clock."

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