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3/10/2017 4:21:00 PM
EDITORIAL: Indiana General Assembly should rethink time zones

Herald Bulletin

Back in 2006, many Hoosiers opposed the state switching to Daylight Saving Time, but business leaders and others prevailed upon the General Assembly to make the change.

They were right. Moving to DST alleviated confusion elsewhere in the world about what time, exactly, it was in Indiana. Half of the year, back before 2006, Indiana was on Central time and half the year on Eastern time.

Now, all but 12 of Indiana's 92 counties are on Eastern time. The outliers cluster in the extreme northwestern and southwestern corners of the state, where folks' lives and the economy are tied to bordering states where Central time holds sway.

Specifically, in the northwest corner near Chicago, it makes sense for Indiana counties to be on Central time.

As Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday morning, it's a good time to ask this question: Should the state of Indiana be on Central time?

Indiana is the westernmost state in the Eastern time zone. The line delineating Eastern from Central cuts sharp angles to the west to take in Indiana.

In short, Indiana would naturally belong to the Central zone. And artificial placement in the Eastern zone means that the sun both rises and sets later in Indianapolis than in any of the other 50 largest metro areas in the country.

If you flew straight south from Indianapolis toward the Gulf of Mexico, every state — Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and even the western portion of Florida — you'd pass over is in the Central time zone.

A group called the Central Time Coalition has been pushing for Indiana to switch to Central time since 2009. On its website, the group makes some salient arguments in favor of Central time. Here are a few, mostly related to school schedules:

• Students would travel more often to school in daylight, rather than morning darkness.

• There would be fewer weather-related school delays, since roads are safer for school-bound travel in daylight.

• Student attendance and academic achievement could be improved if the school day were more in sync with the sun.

• Indiana’s TV viewers would benefit from the earlier schedule of national network programs, including sports.

Those who favor Eastern time for Indiana often note that the state's economy is tied more closely to the eastern portion of the United States than to the west. But the Central Time Coalition has a pretty good answer to that, too. Here's a passage on the group's website:

"In today’s world economy, financial transactions are instantaneously transmitted through e-technology and any benefits of being in the Eastern time are insignificant. In the meantime, Indiana business interactions and shipment of products have shifted from east to west."

Eastern time zone supporters note that switching to Central time would cause problems for Hoosier counties near Cincinnati and Louisville. But it could be argued that much of Indiana is tied more closely to a much bigger metro area, Chicago, which is in the Central zone.

It's too late for the current session of the General Assembly, but the Indiana Legislature should review Indiana's time zone commitment in its 2018 session.

What's of more immediate importance to Hoosiers? Make sure to set your clock ahead one hour come Sunday morning.

2017 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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