The Controversial Debate Over Indiana's Time Zone

The most extensive study of the history of time zones in Indiana has been published in The American Atlas (197) by Thomas G. Shanks, where the author identifies 345 areas in the state with a different time zone history for each. In 1949, a heated rural vs. City Debate led to the Indiana General Assembly passing a bill to put all of Indiana in Central Standard Time and ban Daylight Saving Time. However, the law had no enforcement power and was largely ignored by communities that wanted to observe Eastern Standard Time.

The Indiana General Assembly passed a law to make Central Time the state's official time zone in 1957 but allowed any community to switch to daylight saving time during the summer. However, the law made it illegal for communities to observe fast time (ie, Handley vowed to enforce the law by withdrawing state aid from communities that tried to observe rapid weather during the winter, although legal obstacles forced the Governor to back down.

Once again, the law was not applicable, and individual communities continued to observe their preferred time zone. In 1961, the Indiana legislature repealed the 1957 law that made Central Time the official time of Indiana, allowing any community to observe daylight saving time. The Interstate Commerce Commission divided Indiana into the Central Time Zone and the Eastern Time Zone. However, neither the time zone line nor daylight saving time was observed uniformly (see 50 FR 4374).

The United States Congress subsequently passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966 (Pub, L. Before the passage of this law, each state was allowed to decide this issue for itself. However, having the state divided into two time zones was inconvenient, so Governor Roger D. Branigin asked the USDOT to put all of Indiana back in the central time zone a year later.

Over the next two years, the USDOT held several hearings in response to Governor Branigan's request. Citizens in the northwest and southwest Indiana seemed to favor the central time zone with daylight saving time observance, while those in other areas of the state favored the eastern time zone without observing daylight saving time. The USDOT chose to divide 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 (Posey, Vanderburgh, Warrick, Spencer, Gibson, and Pike) were placed in the central time zone respecting daylight saving time.

The rest of the state was placed in the eastern time zone; the state received a special waiver to exempt parts of itself from daylight saving time. Most parts of the state that were in the Eastern Time Zone did not observe daylight saving time. However, Floyd, Clark, and Harrison counties, which are close to Louisville, Kentucky; and Ohio, and Dearborn counties, which are near Cincinnati, Ohio, unofficially observed daylight saving time due to their proximity to major cities that observed daylight saving time in order to achieve the target time.

While USDOT was considering where the time zone line should be drawn, several broadcasters filed a federal lawsuit in 1968 to force USDOT to enforce daylight saving time in Indiana - which they won. As a result, USDOT was ordered to stop informing Indiana residents that the Uniform Time Act would not apply and provide a plan for its enforcement (see Time Life Broadcast Company Inc., Indiana 196). In 1972, Indiana General Assembly overturned a veto by Governor Whitcomb to place Indiana's northwest and southwest corners in Central Time Zone during daylight saving time and place rest of state in Eastern Standard Time subject to federal approval (see IC 1-1-8).

Indiana enacted statute officially placing northwest and southwest Indiana in Central Time Zone in observance of daylight saving time and rest of state in Eastern Standard Time throughout year. Several counties in eastern Indiana (Ohio and Dearborn counties near Cincinnati; Floyd Clark and Harrison counties near Louisville) chose to observe daylight saving time unofficially despite Indiana statute.

Attitudes began changing in 1990s when Indiana's complicated time zone situation was considered preventing state's economic growth. Interstate travel and commerce were difficult as people wondered what time is it in Indiana? In 1991 Starke County asked USDOT move it from Central Time Zone Eastern Time Zone third time - this petition granted starting October 27 1991 (see 56 FR 13609 56 FR 5199). Pulaski County returned Eastern Time March 11 when daylight saving settings resumed.

When Standard Time resumed Nov 3 all five Southwest Counties (Daviess Dubois Knox Martin Pike) returned Eastern Time Zone. Perry County Petition Move Eastern Time Zone Denied Decades-Long Indiana Time Zone Debate Remains Controversial.

Some argue entire state should move Central Current Time while others would prefer state revert non-observance daylight saving displays. Opponents putting state as whole in a time zone often cite out-of-state cities reason opposition - for example counties northwest Indiana part Chicago metropolitan area many residents travel Chicago which Central Time.

Counties southeastern corner geographic locations suburbs cities such Cincinnati Ohio Louisville Kentucky which observe Eastern Time southwestern corner state Evansville serves central hub tri-state area includes southern Illinois western Kentucky both Central Time difference Supporters daylight saving standard time zone Indiana often claim Indiana should adopt Eastern United States timing system preserve interstate business region believe Indiana companies wasted hours productive colleagues peculiarities weather confusing keep track daily.

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Reuben Macedonio
Reuben Macedonio

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