Time in Indiana

Time in Indiana

Time in Indiana refers to the controversial time zone division of Indiana, and to the state's historical response to the innovation of daylight saving time. The official dividing line between Eastern Time and Central Time has, over time, progressively moved west, from the Indiana–Ohio border, to a position where it divided Indiana down the middle, to the Indiana–Illinois border as it is today.


Before 1883Before 1883 in the United States, most towns and cities set their own local time to noon when the sun was directly overhead. Up until this time, travel was so slow, the difference in the clock from town to town was irrelevant. However, with the emergence of the railroads, hundreds of miles could now be traveled in a single day. It wasn't uncommon for a traveler to set his or her watch by the clock at a train station and travel to the next town only to realize their watch was off. Since, in the United States, the sun reaches "high noon" approximately 1 minute later for approximately every 12 miles traveled towards the West, "the time" in every town was different.

1883The major railroads in the US agreed to coordinate their clocks and begin operating on "standard time" with four "time zones" established across the nation, centered roughly on the 75th, 90th, 105th, and 120th meridians. On November 18, 1883, telegraph lines transmitted GMT to major cities, where each city was to adjust their official time to their proper zonecite press release | title=A Brief History of Time (in Indiana) | publisher=The Indianapolis Star | date=2005-04-30 | url=http://www2.indystar.com/library/factfiles/history/time/index.html] . The state capital in Indianapolis lies at approximately the 86th meridian (U.S. Census Bureau), closer to the center of the Central Time Zone at the 90th meridian than the center of the Eastern Time Zone at the 75th meridian.

1918Time zones first adopted by the United States Congress with the Standard Time Act of 1918. All of Indiana is located in the Central Time Zone, with the dividing line between Eastern Time and Central time lying on the Indiana–Ohio state line. Daylight saving time (DST) is included in the original Standard Time Act.

1919Congress repeals daylight saving time from the Standard Time Act of 1918, though some communities continue to follow it.

1942–1945Daylight saving time is once again mandated by Congress to conserve energy during World War II. After the war, the mandate to observe daylight saving time is lifted again.

1949In a heated rural vs. city debate, the Indiana General Assembly passes a law to put all of Indiana on Central Standard Time and to outlaw daylight saving time. However, the law has no enforcement power, and it is largely ignored by communities who wish to observe Eastern Standard Time.

1957The Indiana General Assembly passes a law to make Central time the official time zone of the state but to permit any community to switch to daylight saving time during the summer. The law did, however, make it illegal for communities to observe "fast time" during the winter months. Governor Handley vows to enforce the law by withdrawing state aid from communities who attempt to observe "fast time" during the winter, though legal obstacles force the Governor to back down from his stance. Once again, the law is not enforceable, as individual communities continue to observe whichever time zone they prefer.

1961The Indiana legislature repeals the 1957 law making Central Time the official time of Indiana, which allowed any community to observe DST. The Interstate Commerce Commission divides Indiana between the Central Time Zone and the Eastern Time Zone. The time zone line is not uniformly observed and lack of uniformity of observance of the time zone boundary was compounded by lack of uniform observance of daylight saving time. (See 50 Federal Register 43745 for this account.)

1966The United States Congress passes the Uniform Time Act of 1966 to specify where and when daylight saving time is applied in the U.S. Previous to this law, each state was permitted to decide where and when daylight saving time took place. However, with the new Federal Law, authority over time zones was shifted to the Department of Transportation.

1967Having the state split in two time zones was inconvenient and so, Governor Roger D. Branigin petitioned the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to place all of Indiana back in the Central Time Zone.

1967–1969The Department of Transportation conducts several hearings in response to Governor Branigan's petition. Citizens of Northwest and Southwest Indiana appear to favor location in the Central Time Zone with observance of DST, while other citizens favor location in the Eastern Time Zone with no observance of DST.

The Department of Transportation divides Indiana between the Central Time Zone and the Eastern Time Zone. Six counties near Chicago (Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton and Starke) and six counties near Evansville, Indiana (Posey, Vanderburgh, Warrick, Spencer, Gibson and Pike) were placed in the Central Time Zone in observance of DST. The remainder of the state was placed on Eastern Standard Time, throughout the year. The state was given dispensation by the Department of Transportation to exempt parts of itself from DST.

Most portions of the state that were in the Eastern Time Zone did not observe DST. However, some counties (namely Floyd, Clark and Harrison, which are near Louisville, Kentucky, and Ohio and Dearborn, which are near Cincinnati, Ohio) unofficially observed DST due to their proximity to the major cities of Louisville and Cincinnati, and those cities' observance of DST.

1968While the Department of Transportation was considering where the time zone line should be, several broadcast companies filed a federal lawsuit to compel the Department to enforce the observance of daylight saving time in Indiana. The Department was ordered to stop informing Indiana residents that the Uniform Time Act will not be enforced and to provide a plan for the enforcement of daylight saving time in Indiana. See "Time Life Broadcast Company, Inc. v. Boyd, " 289 F. Supp. 219 (S.D. Indiana, 1968)

1972The Indiana General Assembly overrides a veto from Governor Whitcomb to place the Northwest and Southwest corners of Indiana in the Central Time Zone on daylight saving time, and to place the rest of the state on Eastern Standard Time, upon Federal approval(See IC 1-1-8.1). Congress approves an amendment to the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C. 260-67) to permit a state that lies in two time zones to exempt part of the state from daylight saving time, and President Richard Nixon signs it into law. Indiana enacts the statute, officially placing Northwest and Southwest Indiana in the Central Time Zone, in observance of daylight saving time and the rest of the state in the Eastern Standard Time throughout the year. It should be noted that several Eastern Indiana counties (Ohio and Dearborn counties, near Cincinnati, Ohio and Floyd, Clark and Harrison counties, near Louisville, Kentucky) chose to unofficially observe daylight saving time, despite the Indiana statute requiring them to remain on Eastern Standard Time throughout the year.

Pike County requests to be moved from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone. The Department of Transportation grants the request.

Starke County requests to be moved from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone. The Department of Transportation did not find the a sound reason to change Starke County from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone. (See 46 Federal Register 23500; 46 Federal Register 51786)

1985The Indiana General Assembly (Senate Concurrent Resolution 6 from 1985) requests the Department of Transportation to move the five counties in Southwest Indiana (Posey, Vanderburgh, Warrick, Spencer, and Gibson) from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone. The Department of Transportation denies the request, finding that the change would not serve the convenience of commerce. (See 50 Federal Register 25856; 50 Federal Register 28959; 50 Federal Register 43745)

Jasper County and Starke County petition the Department of Transportation to be moved from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone. The Department of Transportation denies the petitions of both counties. (See 51 Federal Register 43644 and 52 Federal Register 10119)

1991Things began to change in the 1990s, as Indiana's convoluted time zone situation was seen as retarding the state's economic growth. Interstate travel and commerce were difficult as people wondered, "What time is it in Indiana?" [ cite web | title=What Time is it in Indiana? | publisher=Monroe County Community School Corporation | url=http://www.mccsc.edu/time.html#what | accessdate=2006-11-25]

In 1991, Starke County petitions the Department of Transportation to be moved from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone. The Department of Transportation grants the petition. Starke county is moved from the Central Time Zone to Eastern Time Zone effective October 27, 1991. (See 56 Federal Register 13609 and 56 Federal Register 51997)

2005On April 29, 2005, with heavy backing from Governor Daniels' economic development plan, and after years of controversy, the Indiana legislature passed into law that on April 2, 2006, the entire state of Indiana would become the 48th state to observe daylight saving time. The bill was also accompanied by Senate Enrolled Act 127 [cite web | title=Senate Bill 0127 | publisher=State of Indiana | url=http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo?year=2005&request=getBill&docno=127 | accessdate=2006-11-25] , which required Governor Daniels to seek Federal hearings from the United States Department of Transportation on whether to keep Indiana on Eastern Time with New York and Ohio or whether to move the entire state back to Central Time with Chicago.

2006As a result of a review by the Department of Transportation, eight counties were moved from the Eastern Time Zone to the Central Time Zone, effective April 2, 2006. These were Starke and Pulaski Counties in the northwest; and Daviess, Dubois, Knox, Martin, Perry and Pike Counties in the southwest.

Pulaski and Martin counties, however, reconsidered their bids to join the Central Time Zone and decided to formally petition to be in the Eastern time zone. Pulaski County Commissioners and County Council both voted unanimously on February 6, 2006, to declare home rule and stay on Eastern Time if a federal agency did not grant an appeal to change the time-zone ruling. However, the county conceded on March 27, 2006, officially accepting Central Time and switching times zones on April 2, 2006 [ cite news | first=Tom |last=Coyne | title=Pressured, Pulaski shifts to Central | publisher=South Bend Tribune | date=March 28, 2006 | url=http://www.southbendtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060328/News01/603280393 | accessdate=2006-11-25] .After some residents pledged to unofficially continue observing Eastern Time, the county changed work hours for most county employees so that they were in sync with Eastern Time work hours [ cite news | first=Tom |last=Coyne | title=Some counties resisting zone change | publisher=South Bend Tribune | date=April 1, 2006 | url=http://www.southbendtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060401/News01/604010303 | accessdate=2006-11-25] .Dubois, Daviess, Knox, and Pike Counties also decided to ask the federal government to return them to the Eastern Time Zone, the former voting to do so on April 27, 2006 [cite news | title=Dubois wants Eastern time | publisher=South Bend Tribune | date=April 28, 2006 | url=http://www.southbendtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060428/News01/604280365 | accessdate=2006-11-25] . The confusion involving the time status of these counties led to them being dubbed the "seesaw six." St. Joseph, Marshall and Fulton Counties overtly expressed interest in making another attempt to be changed to Central Time as of the end of 2006" [ cite news | first=Mike |last=Smith | title=Time debate just keeps ticking on | publisher=South Bend Tribune | date=April 22, 2006 | url=http://www.southbendtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060822/News01/608220312 | accessdate=2006-11-25] .

2007On February 9, 2007, it was officially reported that the Department of Transportation had approved Pulaski County's returning to Eastern Time. The change went into effect on March 11, 2007, the date when daylight saving time resumed [cite press release | title=Document OST-2006-26442-109 | publisher=United States Department of Transportation | date=2007-02-09 | url=http://dms.dot.gov/search/document.cfm?documentid=450729&docketid=26442 | accessdate=2007-02-19] .

On September 20, 2007, DOT approved a petition from the five southwestern counties Daviess, Dubois, Knox, Martin and Pike to return to the Eastern Time Zone. The change went into effect when daylight saving time ended on November 3, 2007. A petition from Perry County to move to the Eastern Time Zone was denied [ cite news | first=Bryan |last=Corbin | title=Five Counties to Return to EST: Perry County petition is denied | publisher=Evansville Courier & Press | date=September 21, 2007 | url=http://www.courierpress.com/news/2007/sep/21/five-counties-to-return-to-est-perry-county-is/ | accessdate=2006-10-25] .

With the exception of Perry and Starke counties, all counties that were moved to the Central Time Zone in 2006 were moved back to the Eastern Time Zone in 2007.


The Indiana time zone debate remains controversial. Many argue that the entire state should move to Central Time, while many others believe the state should return to the non-observance of DST. This controversy is deeply rooted in Indiana.

With a large agricultural heritage, many farmers oppose DST because their days are controlled by the sun; not the clock. During daylight savings, the sun rises an hour later, costing farmers sixty minutes of valuable morning productivity. Farmers are often dependent on young children whose parents want them home by dinner, and when the sun is up later in the evening, farmers miss out on recreational activities that only happen late. When the sun is still up at 8:30 or 9pm, the farmer is still in the field, while others have been off work for hours. [ citation | first=Robin |last=Clewly | title=What time is the noon meeting? | publisher=Wired | date=March 31, 2001]

Opponents of putting the entire state on one time zone often cite out-of-state cities as their reason of opposition. For example, counties in Northwestern Indiana border and commute to and from the metropolis of Chicago, Illinois for business and pleasure. Chicago is on Central Time. Counties in the southeastern corner of the state are suburbs of cities such as Cincinnati, Ohio and Louisville, Kentucky, who both observe Eastern Time. In the southwestern corner of the state, Evansville, Indiana serves as the central hub of a tri-state area that includes southern Illinois and western Kentucky (both on Central Time).

Supporters of daylight saving time (DST) and a common time zone in Indiana often claim Indiana must adopt the time-keeping system of the rest of the nation to preserve business. It is believed that Indiana businesses have lost hours of productive time with out-of-state colleagues because the time quirks are just too confusing to keep track of on a daily basis [ citation | first=Monica |last=Davey | title=A time-honored debate in Indiana: to spring forward, fall back or neither | publisher=The New York Times | date=November 13, 2005 | url=http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/13/national/13indiana.html | accessdate=2007-11-25] . The confusion caused to outsiders featured prominently in the plot of a two-part episode of "The West Wing", in which presidential aides unfamiliar with Indiana's non-observance of DST miss their train in trying to catch up to the president's motorcade and express consternation with the variances in the state's time measurement.Maureen Groppe. "'President' to tackle Indiana time zone issue," "Greater Lafayette Journal and Courier", September 15, 2002.]

Detractors of daylight saving time point out that scientific studies assessing the impact of the time policy change to DST in Indiana have identified a significant increase in energy usage and spending on electricity by Indiana households. Indiana households paid an additional $8.6 million in electricity bills according to University of California, Santa Barbara economics professor Matthew Kotchen and Ph.D. student Laura Grant [citation | first=Justin | last=Lahart | title=Daylight saving wastes energy, study says | publisher=The Wall Street Journal |date= February 27, 2008 | url=http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120406767043794825.html | accessdate=2008-04-01] . While opponents of Daylights Saving Time point to studies such as Professor Kotchen, the Department of Transportation and organizations such as the California Energy Commission claim that the United States saves approximately 1% of energy when Daylight Saving Time is being observed. [ [http://www.energy.ca.gov/daylightsaving.html Daylight Saving Time - Saving Time, Saving Energy ] ]

Another wrinkle in the issue is that many businesses in Indiana prefer Eastern time to Central time because it is the time zone of Wall Street,fact|date=August 2008 despite its geographic location over 700 miles east of Indianapolis. This complicates matters because when most of Indiana is observing Eastern Daylight time, the sun neither sets until after 9:20 pm in early summer, nor does it reach its highest point until almost 2:00 pm in the northwestern portion of the time zone. During the winter months when standard time is observed, school buses in western regions lose a valuable hour of the sun's rays as they pick up children in the morning due to the unnatural geographic location of this Eastern-time-zoned region. Another notable observation is that schools in the Eastern Time Zone of Indiana tend to have far more 2-hour delays, mainly due to the fact that sunlight is required for many road de-icing components to work. With the sun rising as late as 8:20 am in some areas, available sunlight is inadequate to safely thaw the roads for school buses to pick up all their passengers on time. The argument is that if the same area were in its geographically-natural Central time zone, the sun would be up an hour sooner, and it would have an additional hour to thaw the roads every morning. [ citation | first=Amy |last=Shatz | title=Central, not eastern! Indiana sports guy tackles time zones; after Daylight Saving shift, Mr. Sagarin asks Hoosiers to keep sync with sun | publisher=The Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition). New York, NY. Pg. A1 | date=October 19, 2005] .

See also

* Time in the United States
* List of counties in Indiana


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