Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 13, 2014

All of Ind. should be in same time zone

A referendum's likely winner: Eastern

Kokomo Tribune

---- — If you haven’t yet turned your clocks ahead one hour then you are, indeed, behind the times, for [Sunday] morning at 2 o’clock daylight saving time officially began.

Vincennes and Knox County will always be linked to Indiana’s adoption of daylight saving time, for it was a local state representative, Troy Woodruff, who in the waning moments of the 2005 session of the General Assembly cast what proved to be the decisive vote in its favor.

Woodruff, a Republican, did not win a second term.

Arizona and Hawaii are the only states that, today, don’t observe daylight saving time, and if for nothing else we can thank Mr. Woodruff for saving us from being linked with Arizona in yet another way.

In the grand scheme of things, having to run about the house turning the clocks ahead an hour is such a small thing — but boy, isn’t it a pain in the butt when you’re doing it?

And it’s the same in fall when you have to go and turn the clocks back an hour.

The real debate about time in Indiana isn’t about whether the state observes daylight saving time but rather getting Indiana — all of Indiana, from the Great Lakes to the Ohio River — on the same time, and whether that should be Central or Eastern time.

Knox County flirted with Central time for a while and then switched back to Eastern when the public complained.

There were those who complained when the county turned away from Central time, which had aligned Vincennes with Evansville to the south and Lawrenceville, Ill., to the west.

But being on Central time also put Knox County at odds with most of the rest of the state, which proved to be a problem that overshadowed any benefit to the county of being on the same time as Evansville.

Knox County wasn’t alone in falling back to Eastern time.

Of the eight counties that in the spring of 2006 switched to Central time, six (including Knox County) went back to Eastern time the next year while Perry County, which also wanted to return to Eastern time, had its petition rejected by the federal government.

Today, only a dozen of Indiana’s 92 counties are on Central time: Vanderburgh and six other counties in the southwestern part of the state, and Lake and four other counties near Chicago in northwestern Indiana.

Were all of Indiana on the same time the state would join the majority of the country; only 11 of the 50 states, in fact, have time-zone divisions.

But those 11 include Michigan, where only small bits are in the Central time zone and the rest solidly Eastern; Florida, where about half of the panhandle is split between Central and Eastern time; and Texas, where a smidgen of the western part of the state down along the border observes Mountain time while the rest of the state observes Central time.

Of the other eight states there are significant sections split between time zones; ranked from most-significant division to less-significant, Indiana would be about at the bottom of the eight.

There have been efforts during recent sessions of the state Legislature to hold a referendum (non-binding) to test the public’s interest in bringing all of Indiana into the same time zone — and whether that should be Eastern or Central.

Lawmakers have demonstrated little enthusiasm for such a canvass.

Were that referendum ever allowed to go ahead the outcome would be easy to predict: a vote overwhelmingly in favor of all of Indiana being on Eastern time.

Some day, perhaps, that will happen.

— Vincennes Sun-Commercial