NOTE: This story was originally broken by GamePolitics last night. Because of its importance and because we now have additional information, we are bumping it into today's coverage.
The website of Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry (D, seen at left) indicates that the Governor has signed into law HB3004, video game legislation proposed by Rep. Fred Morgan (R). Henry had until today to take action on the bill, and aides had indicated to GamePolitics that he was likely to approve the measure.
The Oklahoman has a brief mention on the new law. Gov. Henry's short, official press release can be seen here.
In his statement, the Governor said, "The violence in videogames has grown to epic proportions. Some video games glorify violence to a degree seldom seen in even the bloodiest movies. While parents have the ultimate responsibility for what their children do and see, this legislation is another tool to ensure that our young people are not saturated in violence. This gives parents the power to more closely regulate which games their children play."
The new statute, scheduled to take effect on November 1st, would include violent video games among items defined as "harmful to minors." (and therefore unlawful to sell or rent to minors). Oddly enough, the measure also includes unrelated language added by the Oklahoma Senate regarding signage around strip clubs and porn shops.
Rep. Fred Morgan, the bill's sponsor, is running for Congress and faces a July primary.
Oklahoma thus becomes the eighth U.S. jurisdiction to enact such a law. Previous statues in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Washington State, Illinois, and Michigan were found unconstitutional. California's video game law is currently under review by Federal District Court Judge Ronald Whyte. Minnesota's governor signed that state's bill into law last week. A lawsuit has already been filed there.
Although no official ESA comment is yet available, a video game industry source told GP today, "ESA and EMA have vigorously responded to each of these laws that has been enacted, and they have been successful in every case. No one should expect a different course of action or result in this instance."
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