INDIANAPOLIS – Statewide daylight-saving time (search) has lived to see another day in the Indiana General Assembly.
But even though it has been rescued twice, it is far from certain whether it can survive the final three weeks of the legislative session and land on the desk of its biggest backer -- Gov. Mitch Daniels (search).
The new Republican governor has made adopting statewide daylight-saving time one of his top legislative priorities, saying it would eliminate confusion and boost commerce. Unlike 47 other states, Indiana is split on the issue: 77 counties in the Eastern time zone do not change clocks while the other 15 counties do. The state also has 10 counties in the Central time zone and they do observe daylight saving time
The split for part of the year is an almost comical part of Hoosier lore, debated in the Legislature, in offices, in bars and on talk radio.
After the bill failed to pass the House on a first vote Monday, Daniels and House Speaker Brian Bosma intensified their lobbying push and won 51 votes needed during a second tally to send the proposal to the Senate.
Now the bill likely must clear a House-Senate conference committee in revised form, win approval of the Senate Rules Committee and the full Senate, and then pass the House a second time.
Daylight-saving time has been an extremely divisive issue in the General Assembly for three decades, and it already was revived once in the House this session after it failed to clear an earlier deadline.
Efforts to mandate statewide daylight have failed numerous times since the Legislature adopted the current system in 1971. This year marked the first time in a decade such a proposal made it to the floor of either chamber. The last time it was voted on by the full Senate was 1983, when it was defeated 46-4.
Two other states -- Arizona and Hawaii -- do not observe daylight savings.
During debate Monday, proponents said statewide daylight time would promote economic development. State Rep. Randy Borror ticked off numerous businesses and their lobbying groups that support the change.
"Are we ready to announce to the world that we get it?" he asked.
Several opponents, including those whose districts are adjacent or close to Illinois and the pockets of southwestern and northwestern Indiana that are in the Central time zone, said most of their constituents were against any switch.
"The sun will come up tomorrow on its own time," said state Rep. Dale Grubb, whose district includes three counties that border Illinois. He said many of his constituents work in Illinois, and Eastern daylight time would put them an hour ahead of that state in the spring and summer.