INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- State lawmakers are once again spending time on the issue of time in Indiana.
The House Committee on Interstate and International Cooperation endorsed legislation Wednesday that would allow people in counties bordering the lines between the Central Time Zone and Eastern Time Zone to vote on which they would rather be in.
The question would be placed on the ballot in the next general election, or possibly in a special election, if 2 percent of people who voted in the last election wanted it on the ballot, said the bill's author, Rep. Nancy Dembowski, D-Knox.
She said if a majority of voters wanted to switch, county commissioners would have to petition the U.S. Department of Transportation -- which regulates time zones -- seeking a change.
After legislation passed in 2005 mandating statewide observance of daylight-saving time, 17 counties in northwestern and southwestern Indiana asked to be moved from the Eastern Zone to the Central Zone.
The federal government allowed eight to switch to Central time, including Starke County in northwestern Indiana. Dembowski's district includes Starke County.
But seven of the eight counties -- Pulaski County in northwestern Indiana and six counties in southwestern Indiana -- later asked to be switched back to the Eastern Zone. Starke County commissioners did not seek a change back, and the federal government allowed six of the seven counties that did want another change to return to Eastern time.
Although Dembowski said commissioners in counties that sought changes may have held public hearings on the issue and received input in other ways, she believed in many cases that only a fraction of the people weighed in.
"This simply allows the people's voice to be heard," she said.
She said time zones remain an issue in Starke County, even though commissioners there did not petition for a change back to Eastern time. She said she was not seeking to have the law mandating statewide observance of daylight saving time repealed, nor an effort to have all of Indiana placed in one time zone.
The bill passed 6-1 and moved to the full House.