Video game buyers might have to shell out even a few more dollars for an already expensive hobby, at least for Pennsylvania residents if the proposed House Bill 2705 passes.
The legislation, proposed on September 25, 2018 by Christopher B. Quinn (R) on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, would put a 10 percent sales tax on Mature and Adult Only video games, with a particular look at violent video games. In Quinn’s memo, he said:
Over the past few years, acts of violence in schools seem to be occurring more frequently and with more intensity. From Colorado to Connecticut to most recently in Parkland, Florida, students have experienced unthinkable actions by peers in a place that should promote learning and enrichment, safety and protection.
As far as what qualifies as a violent video game, it is specifically targeted at game content suitable for those 17 and older (rated M through AO) and contain violence, as well as sexual content and language. The said law would establish the “Digital Protection for School Safety Account.” The whole bill appears to benefit schools at the expense of a 10 percent tax on M and AO-rated video games.
Quinn cites a study by the National Center for Health Research, which found that violent video games can increase aggressive behaviors and thoughts, as well as desensitize individuals to violence. The study’s bottom line came to this conclusion:
It is important to keep in mind that violent video game exposure is only one risk factor of aggressive behavior. For example, mental illness, adverse environments, and access to guns are all risk factors of aggression and violence.
Co-sponsors of the bill include Representatives Stephen Barrar (R), Steven C. Mentzer (R), and Rosita C. Youngblood (D). Youngblood was once a part of the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee. She was a sponsor for House Bill 2150, which would legalize online gambling in the state of Pennsylvania.
The Media Coalition, an association that fights for the First Amendment rights of producers and distributors of entertainment such as video games, is fervently against this law. The Media Coalition sent a memo in opposition to HB 2705, citing a U.S. Supreme Court case as precedent:
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that video games are fully protected by the First Amendment. In Brown v. Entertainment Merch. Ass’n and Entertainment Software Ass’n, the Court struck down a California law that banned minors from buying or renting video games with certain violent imagery.
The Media Coalition provided other cases such as well, forming an argument that this proposed law is in fact unconstitutional.
The latest update was the bill being referred to House Finance on October 12, 2018. We reached out to Representative Quinn and will update the article if he comments and will follow the story going forward.
What do you think about this bill? Do you think it could pass in Pennsylvania? Let us know in the comments below!