A bill to axe daylight saving time in Alaska passed the state Senate in a 16-4 vote Wednesday.

Sen. Anna MacKinnon, one of Senate Bill 6’s sponsors, has been fighting to abolish daylight saving time since 2006. During her time in the Alaska Legislature, several constituents have contacted her about eliminating it, she said.

“They’ve expressed frustration about government intrusion into their lives, disruption in test scores, a general frustration with changing clocks and the waste of that time,” said MacKinnon, who also says there are health impacts to “springing forward” and “falling back.”

“I might get a heart attack here, debating this issue. But not from changing the time zone,” said Sen. Bert Stedman, who voted against SB 6.

Other senators who voted “no” on SB 6 include Dennis Egan, Johnny Ellis and Berta Gardner. Egan, a Juneau Democrat, expressed his unhappiness with the legislation Tuesday evening, saying it will hurt Southeast Alaska’s lifestyle and tourism opportunities.

Stedman, who represents Sitka, echoed some of those same concerns Wednesday.

“This is just another nail — in fact, it’s probably a stainless steel wood screw — in our economic coffin,” Stedman said of the Southeast. He highlighted that it would increase the time zone disconnect between Alaska and Seattle — a main commerce connection for the region.

SB 6 now goes to the House for consideration. If passed by both houses, Alaska will be exempt from the annual time change starting in 2017. It would also direct Gov. Bill Walker to petition the U.S. Department of Transportation to consider changing Alaska’s time zones.

Stedman acknowledged the DOT provision Wednesday — which could put the Southeast in sync with Washington state — but he said it doesn’t guarantee change will happen quickly.

“I recognize there’s language in this bill that requests a review of our time zone. We’ve stood in this chamber and requested opening the 1002 area for oil for years,” Stedman said, referencing the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “We could be in years of this request to deal with this time zone, all the time just dis-privileging weaker areas of the state.”

–Rhonda McBride contributed reporting from Juneau.

–This is a developing story. 

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