March 2nd, 2006

Legislation Tracker Changes, Updates, Additions...

As promised, GamePolitics is committed to updating and enhancing our unique, Google Maps-based Legislation Tracker. Here's what is new:

Change: Added a new pink map pin to denote states where laws have been passed but court challenges are ongoing (California, Michigan)

Updated: Iowa, Utah to reflect failure of those bills.

Added: Poland, United Kingdom (our first international entries!!)

Keith Vaz Introduces Game Legislation to UK Parliament

Labor MP Keith Vaz, a frequent critic of video game violence, has introduced a bill which would force games sold in the UK to display content descriptors as well as a larger, more prominent rating label.

In describing his proposed legislation, Vaz said, "Video games have increasingly life-like graphics and antisocial themes. Their regulation has improved, but it has not gone far enough. The voluntary code must be made statutory...

"The video games industry in the United Kingdom is widely and rightly seen as one of our many economic success stories... The Bill is not intended to censor the industry. However, we must recognise that it is our duty to protect our children from inappropriate influences such as violent video games.

Gamasutra, meanwhile, finds "Vaz's demand for larger labeling is peculiar given that age rating symbols have recently been increased for titles... rated by the British Board of Film Classification. All games also indicate exactly the content contained within them according to the European PEGI ratings system."

Gamasutra notes that Vaz was formerly Minister of Europe before being forced to resign in a scandal over citizenship applications. The site also report that Vaz has been dogged in his home district of Leicester East by allegation of dirty politics.

For his part, Vaz continues to beat the drum concerning Manhunt and its supposed connection to the murder of a 14-year-old British lad in 2004.

ESA's Lowenstein Reacts to Failure of Utah Legislation

This just in to GamePolitics from ESA boss Doug Lowenstein:

"We are pleased that the Utah bill was not enacted at this time. We continue to believe that bills such as this one are both unconstitutional and unnecessary. We welcome the opportunity to work with any and all of those who care about these important issues to find legal and effective ways to ensure that parents have the tools to make informed decisions about the games they buy.

Listen to Utah House Debate "Games As Porn" Bill

Get inside the head of Rep. David Hogue and other Utah legislators as they debate HB257.

You can download an audio file of last week's floor debate on Hogue's measure in the Utah House of Representatives.

The House ultimately would go on to pass Hogue's bill 56-8. However, the Utah Senate let the bill die in committee last night.

GP: We find it troubling that Hogue's familiarity with video games seems passing, at best. He speaks, for example, of "Resident Evil Number Four" and "The Bully."

He also alleges that Red Lake school shooter Jeffrey Weise "literally trained himself on Grand Theft Auto."

Hmmm... where have we heard that before?

Utah Senate Kills "Games as Porn" Bill

Games will not be treated like pornography in Utah - at least not this year.

Facing a midnight deadline to pass legislation, the Utah State Senate last night failed to bring to a vote Rep. David Hogue's (seen at left) highly controversial bill which would have amended an existing law concerning distribution of porn to minors. The now-dead HB257 would have equating giving violent games to children with providing them with hardcore smut.

As reported last week by GamePolitics, passed the Utah House of Representatives by a decisive 56-8 vote despite First Amendment concerns expressed by some House members.

The Senate, however, never moved the bill out of committee for a floor vote. Dying a quiet death, HB257 has now been thrown on Utah' s legislative scrap heap - at least for the current session.

Perhaps the Utah Senate recognized the obvious constitutional concerns surrounding Hogue's bill. As noted by GamePolitics, a pair of well-known First Amendment scholars savaged HB257 in a recent guest editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune.

GP: Kudos to the Utah Senate for derailing a bizarre and dangerous piece of legislation. As for the 56 House members who voted for HB257, they need to reacquaint themselves with the U.S. Constitution. Maybe we'll send them a copy.

Iowa Video Game Bill Goes Down the Tubes

Another state-level video game bill has failed to clear legislative hurdles.

Iowa's HF2104, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Janet Petersen, was one of a number of bills that failed to meet the state's deadline for passage.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, House Public Safety Committee Chairman Clel Baudler (R, at left) said that HF2104 was dead.

"As much as I would like to run (with the video game bill), there is some First Amendment issues that those... present."