Lawmakers weigh getting Alaska off daylight saving time

JUNEAU — A state Senate committee has advanced a bill that would exempt Alaska from daylight saving time, a measure that its sponsor said would be good for the health of state residents.

The bill, from Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, would exempt Alaska from the annual time change beginning in 2017. That means Alaska would be five hours behind the East Coast, instead of four hours behind, from about March to November.

The delay in implementation is meant to give certain industries, like the cruise industry, time to prepare for the change.

The bill moved from the Senate State Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

MacKinnon told the committee that there are health effects associated with changing the clocks each spring and fall, and she wants to help Alaskans avoid those problems. Those include increased rates of heart attacks, suicide and traffic accidents in the spring, she said.

The bill also would help address productivity and school attendance issues that occur after the time change, MacKinnon said.

Eagle River resident Lynn Willis told the committee via teleconference that he supported the change, and it could improve safety for some jobs because it would mean more morning light.

There were concerns about how the change could affect businesses, however.