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DTCI: Eastern vs. Central Time Zone debate passes with a yawn

April 18, 2018

dtci-culp-meganComing from Iowa, where the entire state is in the same time zone and Daylight Saving Time had been around for my entire life, it was odd finding out that Indiana was split between two time zones and had only very recently fully adopted Daylight Saving Time. While I thought time was a permanent fixture, longtime Indiana residents feel it is an inconvenience that can be changed.

Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 11, introduced in January of this year, urged “the legislative council to assign to an appropriate study committee the topic of the determination of the time zone or time zones in which Indiana’s 92 counties should be located.” (https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2018/resolutions/senate/concurrent/11#) The Resolution then passed the committee phase but died for lack of support in the Senate at the end of February. Just in time for Daylight Saving.

A brief history on time in Indiana for those who, like me, are unfamiliar with Indiana’s debate over an hour. All Indiana was originally designated as being in the Central Time Zone. In the mid-1960s, 80 Indiana counties re-designated to the Eastern Time Zone to accommodate certain financial transactions with the East Coast. The debate went back and forth between different counties. And in 2006, the entire state of Indiana became the 48th state to officially observe Daylight Saving Time. The debate over time in Indiana continues to this day.

The resolution called attention to modern technology, which has “negated the original convenience advantage of being in the Eastern Time Zone,” and now it has become a detriment to be three hours ahead of the West Coast. The resolution also cited to the excessive morning darkness during the school year in the 80 Eastern Time Zone counties. The resolution further stated, the sunlight schedule is two hours “out-of-sync” with students’ biological clocks, which adversely affects performance and emotional well-being. (As a recent student myself, I fully accept this excuse for those days in law school when my productivity was nowhere to be found.) The excessive darkness can also adversely affect the Indiana population, including effects on physical fitness, exhaustion, car accidents and suicide attempts.

Maybe the answer is changing time zones. The resolution seemed to imply that if all of Indiana were on Central Time, many of the problems caused by the excessive darkness and out-of-sync biological clocks could be resolved.

With Daylight Saving Time, Indiana can enjoy an extra hour of sunlight in the evening, but for those of us who commute early in the morning, it is now completely dark when we get up and head to work. Not only do we “lose” an hour of precious sleep, we also must start the workday in the dark.

Not entirely pleasant.

With a change to Central Time, the sun would be up an hour sooner. It seems like a constant struggle over an hour, but in the long run, supporters of this change say it could make a huge difference in many ways. There is even a coalition, the Central Time Coalition, dedicated to promoting “the allocation of available sunlight and darkness in a manner that provides the greatest health, safety, and well-being to the citizens of Indiana.” The Coalition mentions that Hoosiers were ranked the eighth “most tired” in the United States (http://www.hoosiersforcentraltime.com). Maybe law school isn’t the only reason I’ve been exhausted for the last three years.

With the push for Central Time now being defeated, it appears Hoosiers will continue to live in a state divided; although the author of the resolution has indicated the resolution may be reintroduced later. (https://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/22/push-switch-indiana-central-time-zone-dies-without-enough-support-lawmakers/364604002/)

We have just recently observed “spring forward” and National Napping Day (the day after Daylight Saving Time). Observing National Napping Day as an attorney — and a new attorney at that — isn’t realistic. So whether you’re in the Eastern or Central time zone of Indiana, enjoy the sun when it does decide to come out during this up-and-down winter/spring season. Get some extra sleep and dream about warmer days full of sunshine. Or better yet, take an adult spring break to a warmer climate. You made it through the worst part of Daylight Saving Time, and spring weather is near. You deserve it.•

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Meagan Culp is an associate in the Indianapolis firm of Pitcher Thompson PC. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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