The Indiana Time Zone Debate: What Parts of Indiana Are in CST?

The Indiana time zone debate has been a heated one for decades. In 1949, the Indiana General Assembly passed a bill to put all of Indiana in Central Standard Time (CST) and ban Daylight Saving Time (DST). However, the law had no enforcement power and was largely ignored by communities that wanted to observe Eastern Standard Time (EST). In 1957, the law was amended to make CST the state's official time zone, but it still allowed any community to switch to DST during the summer.

In 1961, the Indiana legislature repealed the 1957 law and allowed any community to observe DST. The Interstate Commerce Commission divided Indiana into two time zones: Central Time Zone and Eastern Time Zone. Neither the time zone line nor DST was observed uniformly. In 1966, the Uniform Time Act was passed, allowing each state to decide its own time zone issue.

In response to this, Governor Roger D. Branigin asked the USDOT to put all of Indiana back in the Central Time Zone in 1967.After several hearings, it was decided that six counties near Chicago and six counties near Evansville would be placed in the Central Time Zone with DST observance, while the rest of the state would be placed in the Eastern Time Zone without DST observance. However, Floyd, Clark and Harrison counties near Louisville, and Ohio and Dearborn counties near Cincinnati unofficially observed DST due to their proximity to major cities that observed DST. In 1968, a federal lawsuit was filed by several broadcasters to force USDOT to enforce DST in Indiana, which they won.

As a result, USDOT was ordered to provide a plan for its enforcement.In 1972, the Indiana General Assembly overturned a veto by Governor Whitcomb to place Indiana's northwest and southwest corners in the Central Time Zone with DST observance, and placing the rest of the state in Eastern Standard Time without DST observance. Several counties in eastern Indiana chose to observe DST unofficially despite Indiana statute.Attitudes began to change in the 1990s when Indiana's complicated time zone situation was considered to prevent economic growth. Starke County asked USDOT to move it from the Central Time Zone to the Eastern Time Zone in 1991 and their petition was granted. Pulaski County returned to Eastern Time when DST resumed in March.When Standard Time resumed on Nov 3rd, all five Southwest Counties (Daviess, Dubois, Knox, Martin and Pike) returned to the Eastern Time Zone.

Perry County's petition to move to Eastern Time Zone was denied.The decades-long debate over Indiana's time zone remains controversial today. Some argue that the entire state should move to CST while others would prefer that the state revert to non-observance of DST. Opponents of putting the entire state in a time zone often cite out-of-state cities as their reason for opposition.Supporters of DST and a common time zone in Indiana often claim that Indiana should adopt the Eastern United States timing system to preserve interstate business with that region. Some believe that Indiana companies have wasted hours of productive time with their out-of-state colleagues because of confusion caused by different weather systems.The confusion caused by different weather systems featured prominently in an episode of The West Wing where characters discussed how difficult it is for outsiders to keep track of what time it is in Indiana.

Josephine Halder
Josephine Halder

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