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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Joe, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 12:06am

    Wow, even Utah can do something right once in a while. Good work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 12:35am

    John Huntsman is one of the Republican governors I have some level of respect for, along with Schwarshenegger. Quite a surprise, a move like this coming from Utah, but a pleasant one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 4:50am

    Protecting the children by not pretending to protect the children.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    racerabbit, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 6:37am

    Occasionally, very occasionally, I am proud to live in Utah.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 6:57am


    As opposed to all those fine upstanding democrat governors like BLAGO in Illinois.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Beta, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 8:27am

    Salt Lake City Tribune: We dodged a bullet on this one. Having misfired badly, the Legislature should not bring it up again.

    This wins both "Most Sensible Editorial" and "Most Inept Metaphor" of the week.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Travis, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 9:49am

    When we will learn

    When will the government learn that we grew up with parents that held morals and values to us, not the government. Therefore, the government needs to stop taking all the responsibilities away from the parents and let them govern their own kids. In this day and age there are too many parents that want to put the blame on the government for protecting their children because they don't want to do it. I'm a strong believer in old rules, watch your kids and teach them good morals and values and stop persecuting them and 9 times out of 10 they'll grow up to be sensefull adults. I fully agree with this governor and editor, wasteful laws should be stricken from our books so we don't have to pay for them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    OC, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 10:35am

    You posted the April Fool's article a little early, didn't you? Sensible politicians? Pfft. An oxymoron if ever I saw one.

    But okay, this one may be the exception that proves the rule.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Michael Talpas (profile), Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:39pm

    Good to see

    It does my heart good to see a politician actually making sense, and a newspaper actually supporting him for making sense. What really bugs me is this: If the courts can see these things are unconstitutional, why can't the legislatures? We need the courts to give oversight, but that doesn't mean the legislatures should mosey along like a drunken hobo, while the courts hover about like a mother hen, guiding them on the right track. Good on the Governor for having the foresight to actually protect children.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:40pm

    When are we going to "protect the children" from the national debt?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    another mike, Mar 27th, 2009 @ 2:42pm

    publish or perish rules?

    Every time one of these silly laws comes up, something that will get insta-gibbed by the courts despite all the protect the precious snowflakes hand-wringing, I have to wonder if legicritters have some sort of publish or perish doctrine like academics.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Michael Talpas (profile), Mar 27th, 2009 @ 3:01pm

    Re: publish or perish rules?

    Actually, another mike, they do. A legislator is only as effective as the last bill he introduced. A lot of these bills seem to be introduced with no expectation they will actually be voted upon or passed. They do it, so they can go back to their constituents, shrug their shoulders and say, "I tried."

    Now, if they really do get passionate about something, they will try the same bill over and over and over again, year after year, trying to get it passed. They never give up, and they fight like the dickens not to get tossed out of office. Eventually, when you have such a persistent idiot running around, something he does will get voted in. Then, they will point to that and say, "See! See! You agreed with me on that! Now, agree with me on the next step!" And away we go.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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