There has been quite a bit of political debate in Indiana recently concerning Day Light Savings Time (DST). Most of Indiana is not on DST. Instead, we are on Eastern Standard Time. The result? For a portion of the year, we are in the same time as New York, and for a portion of the year we are in the same time as Chicago. We never change our clocks, we just let 'em run.
Our governer (Mitch Daniels) is hell bent on changing that. When a recent call failed to get the necessary votes to pass the DST plan, Daniels got on the phone and badgered enough Republicans to change their mind. There was a re-vote, and this time it passed. I'm still not sure if the bill says we would go on Eastern or Central time, but it still has a ways to go before it can be enacted into law. Nevermind the fact that the US legislature has already told the state that they may not mandate a time zone to all of the counties.
Why go on DST? Ostensibly to allow for more daylight hours in the evening to be outside. That's the major reason. During the summer, the number of daylight hours increases. We end up with more daylight, both before normal work hours and afterwards. The idea is that, by moving our clocks forward an hour, we wake up earlier in the day and shift those morning daylight hours into the evening. In the fall, as the daylight hours wane, we would move our clocks back.
There are other arguments as well, most of which I put little stock in. Proponents claim that DST will be good for the Indiana economy. That's a pretty fluffy response to just about any bill before the state house. Proponents claim that a large amount of time and money is lost by businesses who must help people outside the state understand how Eastern Standard Time works. Of course, no one has ever presented any hard numbers on this, so it is really difficult to validate the claim. Another claim I saw recently was that, by switching, we could save 10,000 barrels of oil each year due to the decreased use of lighting in businesses. Nevermind that we use 100,000,000 barrels, that reduction would be a trivial 0.01% decrease in usage. Add to that the fact that, if we get home while it is still warm, we're likely to switch on our air conditioning. Air conditioning consumes a lot more electricity than lighting.
From those opposed to going on DST, I've heard people say "Just wake up earlier". The comeback to this one is, "But the businesses I work with won't be up at that hour." Either way, I don't think either argument has much merit. To me, this is a really trivial issue that I wish our legislature would just drop so they could address some of the more important issues. If it were up to me, I'd leave our time where it is now. I don't have to change my clocks, and I don't really have any need for extra daylight. In fact, if we switch to central daylight time, we won't even get the extra daylight benefit. Maybe I'm just a stick in the mud, or afraid of change, but I almost feel like our using standard time is something that sets Indiana apart, and I like that.