In Utah, Sponsor Pulls Video Game Bill From Committee Agenda

A video game bill originally crafted by controversial Miami attorney Jack Thompson was pulled from committee consideration yesterday by its sponsor.

Rep. Scott Wyatt (R) told the Logan Herald Journal that he won’t proceed with the bill until constitutional concerns about the measure, HB50, are put to rest:

It will either make it into law or be immediately struck down. If it doesn’t see the light of day, it will be my choice.

The Utah bill is similar to Louisiana’s Thompson-authored legislation which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in November. A Boston city official also told GamePolitics recently that pending Massachusetts legislation is modeled after the Utah bill.

A Tuesday reading of the bill before the Utah House Public Technology and Utilities Committee was canceled after Wyatt voluntarily removed HB50 from the agenda. He plans to meet with the office of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in coming days to discuss the legal merits of the bill. Shurtleff is already on record as believing that the bill is likely to fail a constitutional challenge.

Speaking of the effort to limit minors’ access to violent game content, Wyatt said:

It is an issue I agree with, and I think it’s an important discussion. Whether that becomes law, I don’t know.

However, the newspaper also reports that "HB50 is low on (Wyatt’s) priority list." Wyatt also made some interesting observations about game content, seemingly giving military games a pass:

The bang ‘em up World War II action video games that are really, really violent are probably fine. This hits a very, very small percent.

Additional comments cited by the Herald Journal indicate that Wyatt does not believe the Grand Theft Auto or Resident Evil series would fall under Utah’s obscenity clause, although it’s unclear whether he is referring to the current obscenity statute or the amendments sought by HB50. Despite the concerns, Wyatt believes the proposed legislation has value:

Any bill that somebody brings forward with the support of their constituents is not a waste of time, because they raise issues and create awareness.

Asked for his comment about Wyatt’s decision to take the bill off the table, Jack Thompson said, "always a good idea (to check on constitutionality)." Thompson also made a cryptic reference that he would be in Utah on Friday…

 

 

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