Alaskans from around the state are passionate about the elimination of daylight saving time. Recently I released a survey asking for your thoughts and opinions on DST, and more than 3,700 Alaskans responded. The results show overwhelming support, with over 78 percent in favor of repeal. Support for the repeal of DST held true in all regions of the state.
While the majority of Alaskans that responded to our online poll are in favor of eliminating DST, there are valid concerns that are raised by those who do not support it. Whether it's our businesses, our governmental agencies, our recreational activities, or our circadian rhythms, the repeal of Daylight Saving Time affects us all in different ways. Those opposed to the repeal have indicated they're concerned that going permanently off of DST will distance them further from businesses and family members on the East Coast and may reduce tourism revenue generated due to the reduced daylight hours at the end of the day. For those who wish to continue falling back and springing forward, I understand and recognize you have valid concerns.
While I can sympathize with these concerns, I believe the benefits of repealing DST far outweigh the negatives. The primary reason I support the repeal of DST is in response to the growing amount of research that suggests negative health causes and effects; a 2008 Swedish study indicates an uptick of heart attacks in men, another 2008 study points to an increase in suicide rates in men, a 1998 study shows increased accident rates and a 2009 study shows loss of productivity; and that's just a small sampling of the research that I have found. The negative impacts DST has on our health is my overall concern.
Studies continually demonstrate that the initial rationale behind DST -- energy conservation -- no longer holds true. One study done in Indiana even goes as far as to suggest that it costs the consumer more to be on DST than to be off. It has been half a century since the Uniform Time Act was implemented and our habits and our use of energy have changed. Electricity no longer dominates our household energy usage; alternatively, heating and cooling primarily dictate our usage.
Many Alaskans who oppose the elimination of DST have offered that they would support adopting year-round DST. Unfortunately, this is not an option under the 1966 Uniform Time Act and our only two options are to either adopt or eliminate DST. I agree with many who have suggested springing forward and staying there would be the best option for the state. Fortunately, I was able to include that in the current amended version of Senate Bill 6. To address this and help ease the problems associated with commerce that occurs between Alaskans and the Lower 48, this bill includes a petition to the U.S. Department of Transportation that could result in changing Alaska's Standard time zone to Pacific Time. The bill's implementation date is January 2017 in order to allow time for these changes should this legislation pass and Alaska's petition be granted.
Finally, a bill is an idea, a policy consideration to engage Alaskans in a discussion about their government and how a proposed idea affects people. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with Alaskans the positive and negative consequences of the elimination of daylight saving time.
State Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, has served in the Alaska Legislature since 2007.