We reported previously on a tax in Oklahoma that targeted video games with a “Teen,” “Mature,” or “Adults Only” rating. The bill in question would implement a one percent tax increase on those titles. The fate of said bill has been decided.
Video Game Voters Network is reporting that the bill in question, House Bill 2696, was defeated in the House Revenue and Tax Subcommittee on February 20. When Representative William Fourkiller, the creator of the bill, was asked to withdrawal his proposal, he proposed a new bill – the creation of an Oklahoma Task Force on Video Games’ Relationship to Obesity and Aggression.
Rep. Fourkiller, I hate to be the bearer of the obvious news, but your new proposal is exactly the same as your previous bill minus the tax. Since this proposed task force would need to be funded through some means, it would probably be funded through a similar tax as before.
Regardless, both proposals were killed and Oklahoma citizens still play the games they want to. It just leads us to again question whether or not politicians are actually aware of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. The ESRB puts the power of choice in the hands of the parents. It’s not the fault of the retailer or publisher, but rather the parents, if children get access to violent video games.
I feel that I must also point out just how stupid this bill was compared to other legislation regarding video games. At least the California bill that was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court targeted violent games based on somewhat specific guidelines. House Bill 2696 would have taxed games based on their rating, but a lot of non-violent games fall under a “Teen” rating.
It astounds me just how many politicians want to regulate video games, when they don’t know the difference between Mortal Kombat and Super Mario Bros. How much longer do we have to be stuck with policymakers who don’t understand technology?