There has been a significant amount of discussion about the possibility of Russell County moving to the eastern time zone.
Any such change cannot be made locally, or even at the state level.
Any time zone changes go through the United States Department of Transportation or by a vote of the United States Congress.
With that said, what criteria does the Department of Transportation look at when evaluating whether to approve a time zone change?
According to DOT, this is the criteria looked at.
- Where do businesses in the community get their supplies and to where do they ship their goods or products?
- Where does the community receive television, radio, and other media broadcasts from?
- Where are the newspapers, blogs, or other materials published that serve the community?
- Where does the community get its bus and passenger rail services; if there is no scheduled bus or passenger rail service in the community, where must residents go to obtain these services?
- Where is the nearest airport; if it is a local service airport, to what major airport does it carry passengers?
- What percentage of residents of the community work outside of the community; where do these residents work?
- What are the major elements of the community’s economy; is the community’s economy improving or declining; what Federal, State, or local plans, if any, are there for economic development in the community?
- If residents leave the community for schooling, recreation, health care, religious worship, or shopping for essentials what standard of time is observed in the places where they go for these purposes?
- Do cellular phones or other smart devices in the community display accurate times; are cellular phones or smart devices linking with cellular towers in an adjacent time zone?
The General Counsel’s Office reviews requests for time zone changes. If there is enough information to conclude that the change may in fact serve the convenience of commerce, the General Counsel issues a proposed rule to make the change and invites written public comment on the proposal.
Normally, a public hearing is held by DOT in the community so that those affected by the issue can make their views known, and the public is given approximately 2 months in which to submit their written comments, which should address the proposal’s impacts upon the convenience of commerce.
After analyzing all of the comments, the General Counsel decides whether the change would in fact serve the convenience of commerce. If the General Counsel believes that it would not, he or she ends the proceeding and leaves the time zone unchanged. If the General Counsel believes that it would serve the convenience of commerce, his or her recommendation is forwarded to the Secretary of Transportation, who alone has authority to change a time zone.
A typical time zone rulemaking to change one county normally takes between 6 months and 1 year to complete.