After the 2004 election put former Bush White House budget director Mitch Daniels into the Indiana governor's mansion, the new governor made putting Indiana on Daylight Savings Time a top priority. Daniels continued the argument long put forth by Daylight Savings Time proponents: Indiana's time irregularities are preventing companies from doing business here, and that's costing us money. As the state was in a dangerous budget crisis at the end of the governorship of Democrat Joe Kernan, who ascended to the office after the death of two-term governor Frank O'Bannon, Daniels deemed it necessary to stop this detriment to business and growth immediately.
Somewhat unsuprisingly, this made the state's Democrats find it a top priority to prevent Daylight Savings Time, and the Republicans find it a top priority to make sure My Man Mitch's plan went through. With a newfound Republican majority in both houses--be it a shaky margin in the state House of Representatives--it seemed Daniels would get his way.
The legal battle over the past year was fast and furious; front-page headlines about the issue screamed across state newspapers for months. After a fierce battle, details best left to another node, Senate Enrolled Act 127 was passed into law, finally bringing Daylight Savings Time to Indiana. Beginning next year, expect to hear the question "What time is it in Indiana?" a whole lot more as people adjust to the new setting. Hoosiers, for the first time in decades, will be adjusting their clocks twice a year.
But the matter of time in Indiana isn't solved--not by a long shot. Now that we have DST, the next issue arises: What time zone should the state be on? Senate Enrolled Act 127 also required Governor Daniels to ask the Department of Transportation to hold federal hearings on what time zone the state should belong in. Citizens are equally interested and emotional on this issue as Daylight Savings itself; however, this debate does not fall as easily across party lines. In general, most people on the east side of the state would prefer Eastern Standard Time, while the Hoosiers on the west side and in Chicagoland want Central Standard Time.
The media attention about this new decision, however, is somewhat diminished compared to that of the Daylight Savings debate, since the decision is out of the hands of our legislature and governorship. Instead, it lies in the hands of a federal bureauracy. Until the DoT ends its hearings, everyone, even Hoosiers, can only debate at the water cooler, write letters to the editor, and ask the question: "What time will it be in Indiana next year?"
"On April 2, 2006, two northwestern counties (Starke and Pulaski) and six in the southwest (Knox, Daviess, Martin, Pike, Dubois, and Perry) moved from Eastern Time to Central Time, and the entire state began observing Daylight Saving Time."
"On March 11, 2007, Pulaski County in the northwest returned to Eastern Time."
"On November 4, 2007, five southwestern counties (Knox, Daviess, Martin, Pike and Dubois) returned to Eastern Time. Perry and Starke counties remained on Central Time"