JUNEAU -- The Alaska Senate passed a bill Wednesday to kill daylight saving time, voting 16-4 to send the measure to the House.
The bill would exempt Alaska from setting its clocks forward an hour each spring and back in the fall -- meaning that Alaska would be five hours behind the East Coast during portions of the year. But the bill, Senate Bill 6, also asks the U.S. Transportation Department to include at least some of Alaska in the Pacific Time Zone.
The measure passed shortly after noon Alaska daylight time. Sixteen senators voted to support the bill, while four senators -- Democrats Johnny Ellis and Berta Gardner of Anchorage and Dennis Egan of Juneau, and Republican Bert Stedman of Sitka -- voted against the measure.
Its sponsor, Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, said the state has the power to eliminate daylight saving time, but shifting time zones is solely the prerogative of the federal government.
"It's time to stop shifting back and forth," she said in her closing remarks. But she also acknowledged that opinions are divided among Alaskans. Dan Cuddy, the Alaska banker, has told her the bill "was a silly thing to do," MacKinnon said on the Senate floor.
Some Southeast residents and interest groups have opposed the change, saying it would take the region out of step with other areas and reduce evening daylight.
MacKinnon said in an interview after the vote that she now plans to begin talking with her colleagues in the Alaska House. A similar bill from Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage, has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
"I think what the people want is -- they want a vote," MacKinnon said. "Let it be heard."
Hawker said in an interview that the lopsided vote on the Senate bill was "an indication that there is some momentum as it arrives in the House."
He said the bill would be heard in committee, adding that a similar measure has passed the House in the past. Hawker also pointed out that a repeal of daylight saving time is "overwhelmingly supported by my own constituents."