A Rhode Island legislator has announced his intent to introduce legislation that would tax violent video games. Under this proposal, an additional 10 percent tax would be levied on games carrying an M rating or higher. State Representative Robert Nardolillo III (R—Dist.28, Coventry) intends to use the revenue collected for the specific purpose of school counseling programs.
“There is evidence that children exposed to violent video games at a young age tend to act more aggressively than those who are not…This bill would give schools the additional resources needed to help students deal with that aggression in a positive way.” Nardolillo said in a press release. “Revenue generated by this tax would then be placed in a special account for school districts to use to fund counseling, mental health programs, and other conflict resolution activities.”
Rep. Nardolilo notes that states cannot outright ban the sale of violent games to minors, as per the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. In that case, the state of California had passed a law that banned the sale of M rated games to minors, as well as requiring particular labeling that went beyond the ESRB markings. Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that video games were protected by the First Amendment, just as film, music, and printed books are.
However, there is currently no text for the proposal. “It is still being drafted by legal counsel at this time,” said a staffer for the Rhode Island House Minority Office. Any legislation proposed will likely face opposition from the Entertainment Merchant’s Association as well as court challenges if passed.
“Our goal is to make every school in Rhode Island a safe and calm place for students to learn. By offering children resources to manage their aggression today, we can ensure a more peaceful tomorrow,” said Rep. Nardolillo’s press release.
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