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Oklahoma's proposed video game tax revised, struck down

Oklahoma's House of Representatives has struck down a recently-proposed bill that initially would have enforced a 1 percent sales tax on all games rated T or higher by the ESRB.
Oklahoma's House of Representatives has struck down a bill that initially proposed an additional 1 percent sales tax on violent video games. The bill, first introduced earlier this month, suggested that video games affected childhood obesity and bullying, and the proposed tax (which affected all games rated T or higher by the ESRB) would have raised money for funds that would help prevent these issues. More recently, however, bill sponsor William Fourkiller (pictured) revised the proposal to drop the tax altogether, instead aiming to create a dedicated task force for discovering the link between violent games, obesity, and bullying. At this week's meeting of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation, some state representatives took issue with the bill's video game focus. "Why just video games? Why not French fries or rap music or movies?" asked Representative Pat Ownbey. Others, such as Representative Mike Reynolds, said that it might be more effective to create a task force that studies the numerous factors behind obesity, not just games, reports the Oklahoma Watchdog. Ultimately, the bill failed after a 5-6 vote. Prior to its defeat, numerous video game advocacy groups spoke out against the bill and fought to prevent its passage. The ESA, for instance, called the bill "patently unconstitutional," especially in the wake of last year's Supreme Court ruling that put video games on equal ground with other media in terms of government regulation. The Video Game Voters Network, meanwhile, sent numerous messages to the Oklahoma representatives, noting that the bill placed "unfair and unfounded claims" against video games as a medium.

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