May 19th, 2006

These Video Game Bills... They're Dead to Me...

It is the season when state-level bills are either made or killed, including those pertaining to video games.

So, in the words of everybody's favorite made man, Tony Soprano, the following bills are dead to me. And to everyone else, for that matter:

Florida - SB492: Died in Committee on Justice Appropriations
- HB647: Died in Judiciary Committee

Hawaii - SB3204: Died in committee. And I was so looking forward to covering this one in person...

Kansas - HB2921: Died in Judiciary Committee

Maryland - HB75: Died in Judiciary Committee

Missouri - HB1467: Died in committee

Washington - HB2178: Died in committee

Wisconsin - AB 634: Dead; failed to pass committee on May 11th; a staffer for Rep. Sondy Pope-Roberts tells us that the bill will be re-introduced in January, 2007.

We're updating the GamePolitics Legislation Tracker to include these changes.

Note - these bills do not include any previously reported as dead on GP (such as Indiana and Michigan).

UPDATE: Delaware Rep. Helene Keeley contacted GP to tell us that HB360 is neither dead nor stalled. We've edited this story to reflect that information. A staffer from North Carolina State Senator Julia Boseman's office also let us know that Boseman's SB2 is still in play. We're awaiting some type of confirmation on Tennessee and New Jersey.

Minnesota Video Game Bill Targets Buyers

The phrase, "Let the buyer beware" may soon take on a special meaning for gamers in Minnesota.

Yesterday, by a 114-17 vote, the Minnesota House passed a measure introduced by State Rep. Jeff Johnson (R), who is also a candidate for Attorney General.

As reported by Minnesota Public Radio, Johnson's bill, HF1298, requires retailers to post signs which explain the video game rating system. Of greater concern to gamers and the video game industry, however, is a $25 civil fine which can be assessed against underage buyers of M or AO-rated games. This approach is quite novel, since video game legislation typically places the onus on retailers, not customers.

GamePolitics spoke to Rep. Johnson about his unusual bill last night.

"We were trying to pass the narrowest bill possible just to try something different from a constitutional challenge standpoint," he explained. Johnson expects the Minnesota Senate to approve the bill sometime on Saturday. Should that happen it will be sent to Gov. Tim Pawlenty for signature. While Gov. Pawlenty has not said so publicly, according to Johnson he has given some indications that he would be receptive to signing the bill into law. Should the Guv sign the proposed legislation into law, Johnson fully expects the video game industry to challenge its implementation.

"It's a little frustrating," he said, "when you take their own rating (system) and you try to create what is really a pretty insignificant restriction and they say, 'well, we're still going to come in and fight and it's going to cost you a million bucks. They claim it's because of the First Amendment."
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