God bless it. FINALLY. The backward people of this state are waving their fists at the sky and cursing Mitch Daniels...but I kinda like the guy...and that means something from someone who voted for Kernan.
Daylight-saving time is coming to all of Indiana for the first time in more than 30 years.
In a history-making drama, the Indiana House voted 51-46 late Thursday to pass the controversial issue, which has dominated the legislature, coffee shops and kitchen tables for four months.
Gov. Mitch Daniels, who made passage of the time change one of his top economic priorities, will sign the bill soon so that on April 2, 2006, Hoosiers will join people in 47 other states in turning their clocks ahead one hour.
The climactic vote at 11:36 p.m. came after a half-hour of emotional testimony, in which lawmakers on both sides of the debate brushed away tears. They had fought about the issue all session. Some argued the changes are needed to boost Indiana in a global economy and erase the state's backward image. Others called it an unnecessary intrusion in Hoosiers' lives.
Lawmakers had been deadlocked in the House all day.
The bill -- Senate Bill 127 -- had come within two votes of being killed earlier Thursday, when the House voted 49-48 against the time change.
But after 12 hours of behind-the-scenes pleading -- supporters called it persuasion; opponents called it arm-twisting -- backers believed they finally had locked up the requisite 51 votes.
"Now is the time," said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. "Today is the day. Let's do it."
At 11:30 p.m., the voting began and a flurry of red and green lights illuminated lawmakers' choices. For six minutes that seemed longer, Bosma held open the vote. Once again, it looked as if the bill would not reach the all-important 51 "yes" votes.
Two Democrats who have supported daylight-saving time -- Rep. Terri Austin, of Anderson and Rep. David Orentlicher, of Indianapolis -- were the last to vote no. Opponents thought they had won and began to chant for Bosma to tally the vote.
Suddenly, one red light switched to green, as Rep. John Ulmer, R-Goshen, changed his mind. The tally stood at 50 when Rep. Troy Woodruff, R-Vincennes, switched his vote.
The instant Bosma saw he had 51 votes, he closed the voting machine and announced the bill had passed. Supporters cheered and applauded. Opponents shook their heads.
Harry Gonso, the governor's chief of staff, called Daniels on his BlackBerry and handed the device to Rep. Gerald Torr, the Carmel Republican who had fought for the bill all session.
Torr, surrounded by cameras and reporters, was in a daze. He could hardly take in the governor's words, he said, recalling only that Daniels congratulated and thanked him.
Woodruff, whose switched vote had just guaranteed Indiana would switch to daylight-saving time, was rushed by House Republicans into the serenity of Bosma's office before facing reporters. A political newcomer elected last November in a district where daylight-saving time is unpopular, Woodruff had cast the toughest vote of his life.
Within moments, he faced the barrage of reporters' questions.
"It was time to end this thing," he said, still appearing stunned by what he'd just done. "It's time to move the state forward."
As he spoke, his Web site still contained a pledge to his constituents to "always vote against this controversial piece of legislation" -- a promise Democrats were quick to point out.
"Some things are more important than re-election," Woodruff said.
He had simply tired of Democrats playing politics with the issue, he explained, adding he was fed up as he watched Democrats who have always supported the bill vote against it.
And so he changed his vote.
Bosma said Woodruff was a portrait in political courage, saying the 34-year-old could end up paying for his vote at the ballot box. He accused House Democrats of seeking to trade votes on legislation legalizing slot machines at horse-racing venues for votes on daylight-saving time.
"It was clear that every time we came up with enough votes, the Democrats took some of those votes away," Bosma said.
Bosma said he had specifically urged Woodruff not to vote for the bill. He had not realized it was Woodruff who had cast the deciding vote until after he closed the voting machine. Woodruff, who also is an aide to U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., narrowly defeated a Democratic incumbent last fall to win his seat.
"It's not the most popular issue in his area," said Bosma, who now must begin work to ensure Woodruff can hold his seat. House Republicans narrowly took control of the chamber last fall by a 52-48 margin after eight years out of power.
Hailing a change
Daniels had no immediate public comment after the vote. Gonso, who had watched the drama play out on the House floor, hailed the vote's real and symbolic effects.
"It signals our state's willingness to make a change," Gonso said. "This had been a centerpiece of Mitch's campaign and his desire to effect change."
One thing the bill doesn't change is Indiana's time zones. Many opponents had argued that Indiana, now mostly in the Eastern time zone, is a better fit in the Central time zone. The bill requires Daniels to ask the U.S. Department of Transportation to hold hearings on where the time zone boundary should fall.
Currently, 82 Indiana counties are in the Eastern time zone, and 10 counties in northwestern and southwestern Indiana are in the Central time zone. The bill will validate five counties in southeastern Indiana that have been illegally observing daylight-saving time.
Torr said the daylight-saving time legislation might not compare to the state's $24 billion budget in weight.
But, he said, he understood why the issue has captivated -- and divided -- Indiana.
"We pass a budget every two years -- it's not that big a deal," he said. "This is historic."
That point was made repeatedly during the House debate. The issue has failed to garner enough support for years in Indiana's legislature. Wednesday, the Senate passed it 28-22. But the House had balked.
Rep. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, gave the issue new life. He had voted against it twice before -- once earlier this month and again Thursday morning. Only someone willing to switch his or her vote can seek a new vote, and Buck had decided to switch.
"I wasn't pressured by anybody," he said to derisive laughter from House Democrats opposed to the bill.
Instead, he said, he changed his mind by pondering the mural in front of the House, which he said symbolized the pioneers and entrepreneurs who have taken risks in Indiana without knowing whether that risk would pay off.
Rep. William Crawford, D-Indianapolis, took offense at what he called "the grandiose concept" that daylight-saving time was going to be "the greatest thing since sliced bread."
Indiana, he said, has too many children who need help from the state, and too many people out of work. Instead of focusing on those problems, he said, the legislature had become absorbed in daylight-saving time. He'd supported the issue before, he said, but now he would vote no.
"I will always choose children over clocks," Crawford said.
As hard as Torr and other supporters had fought for the bill, others, such as Rep. F. Dale Grubb, D-Covington, had been just as passionate in opposition.
Grubb's district sits along the Illinois border, and many of his constituents work there. Daylight-saving time would always put their jobs one hour behind their home lives.
Thursday night, though, Grubb knew this battle was over. But not his fight. Even proponents expect they will be fending off attempts to repeal daylight-saving time as soon as January, when lawmakers return.
Choking back tears, Grubb asked supporters to study the time change's impact on Hoosiers.
He asked for their promise that "if this doesn't work, you've got to come back and help me fix it so it doesn't hurt my part of the state."
NOW, the US Congress will hold hearins to determine if the State will remain in Eastern or go to Central time. The State used to be in the Central time zone prior to the elimination of DST back in the '60's.
I really don't understand why this was such a big deal--is it so hard to remember that most of Indiana didn't switch? Add one or subtract one--or actually, do nothing. Have you ever thought what a pain it will be to change every single clock in your house twice a year, and get up an hour earlier--in darkness, again--in spring? I think the rest of the US should follow Indiana's lead and give up DST. It's dumb.
I'm glad this is over if only for the end of the hyperbole. The arguments for DST in the Statehouse were ridiculous--as if Indiana was the last place on Earth to get DST (most of the world does not recognize this silly change), or that Indiana's economy was truly suffering (either the lowest or one of the lowest unemployment rates through the 1990s, and still one of the lowest in the Midwest). Could anyone advocating this change point to any business that didn't settle in Indiana because we didn't change our clocks? And what about Arizona--one of the fastest growing states in the US? Has staying on Mountain Standard Time really affected the economy of Phoenix? It's a rhetorical question, and the answer is no.
Furthermore, I really don't understand why it is such a big deal that we "go along" with the rest of the country on this. The case for change was weak and overblown--typical of Republicans. And yes, I'm referring to the Iraq "war."
Don't get me started about Governor "Combover" Daniels...why would anyone put any trust in a man who does his hair like that? I mean, come on!!!
At least former Gov. Kernan--a Vietnam POW--had the sense to get a real haircut.
If you have to ask, yes--I'm still bitter about the election, and the best I can do is make fun of a fellow baldy's coiffure-choice. Peace out! :bash:
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