Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Indiana governor pushes daylight-saving time

By Mike Smith
The Associated Press

        INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Frank O'Bannon was interrupted by applause 25 times during his State of the State speech last week, but with one simple sentence, he also managed to incite grumbles.

        That statement was this: “And let's pass daylight-saving time to help Indiana compete in the 21st Century economy.”

        Yes, he dared mention his support for an issue that has divided the General Assembly for decades.

        “That was the most surprising thing in his speech,” said House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis.

        Mr. O'Bannon's statement was in a section of the speech on economic development, specifically efforts to create more high-tech jobs and foster “cutting edge” research.

        The Hoosier Daylight Coalition, a recently formed group of business, law enforcement, recreation and education advocates, wants Indiana to join 47 other states in observing the time change each spring.

        The business sector portion of the group says it would boost Indiana's economy. For one thing, Wall Street would have an easier time tracking its investments here since the state would always be on the same time as New York City.

        Fewer conference calls would be missed because confusion over the time differences would be eliminated, and airlines would have an easier time scheduling flights, the group says.

        In hopes of stirring grass-roots support for the change, the group has a Web site that urges supporters to contact their lawmakers, and it provides links making it a snap to send them e-mails.

        William Moreau, chief counsel to TechNet Indiana — a consortium of high-tech companies — said he was pleased to hear Mr. O'Bannon mention daylight time in his speech.

        “He has already done more than any of his predecessors have done,” Mr. Moreau said.

        But Mr. O'Bannon's plug for daylight time in his speech led instantly to one question. Was he simply throwing a bone to business groups that want the change, or will he truly use his bully pulpit to drum up public support?

        “The governor talked about daylight-saving time during the campaign, and the very inclusion of it in the State of the State sends a very strong message,” said O'Bannon spokesman Thad Nation.

        “It's about the strongest message he can send in what he wants. We will support it in the legislative process and work with lawmakers.”

        Mr. Bosma suggests it will take more than that.

        “If he wants to be a leader in this area, he's going to have to get out there on it,” he said.

        Even if Mr. O'Bannon throws the lobbying weight of his office behind the change, odds seem stacked against it.

        House Majority Floor Leader Mark Kruzan, D-Bloomington, called it the most polarizing, nonpartisan, grass-roots issue there is in Indiana.

        Mr. Bosma is for making the change, but says when he asks his constituents about it, 48 percent are for, 48 percent against, and 4 percent don't care.


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