Utah Governor Vetoes Video Gaming Law, Noting Unintended Consequences And Likely First Amendment Issue
from the saving-taxpayer-money dept
Well, this is a surprise. A bunch of folks have sent in the news that Utah’s governor vetoed the video game retail bill that had zoomed through the legislature. State after state after state has passed similar laws, all of which have been thrown out by the courts as being unconstitutional. In this case, the law would have other unintended consequences, including that it gives incentive for stores to not have a policy on selling violent video games to minors — because liability only comes in if they had a policy. Yet, many state governments continue to pass such laws, knowing that they’re a waste of taxpayer money to defend, because they want to make it look like they’re “protecting the children.” That’s why it’s great to see the governor veto the bill while pointing out a clear recognition of how pointless it would be to pass the law:
While protecting children from inappropriate materials is a laudable goal, the language of this bill is so broad that it likely will be struck down by the courts as an unconstitutional violation of the Dormant Commerce Clause and/or the First Amendment.
The industries most affected by this new requirement indicated that rather than risk being held liable under this bill, they would likely choose to no longer issue age appropriate labels on goods and services.
Therefore, the unintended consequence of the bill would be that parents and children would have no labels to guide them in determining the age appropriateness of the goods or service, thereby increasing children’s potential exposure to something they or their parents would have otherwise determined was inappropriate under the voluntary labeling system now being recognized and embraced by a significant majority of vendors.
Even the Salt Lake City Tribune is now trashing the legislature for pushing this bill forward and praising the governor for rejecting it:
Whew. Gov. Jon Huntsman rightly vetoed House Bill 353, which would have given voluntary media-industry ratings of movies, DVDs, video games, CDs and even books the weight of law and made sellers responsible for enforcing them.
Somehow, this misguided piece of legislation zoomed through the Legislature with hardly an opposing vote, and, we suspect, without a thorough vetting…. In their misplaced zeal to limit access to media they don’t like, our legislators might have eliminated the very tools parents need to set limits on what their children see and hear. We dodged a bullet on this one. Having misfired badly, the Legislature should not bring it up again.