Utah Governor Vetoes Violent Game Bill
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman vetoed a bill seeking to impose fines on retailers violating their voluntary policy of not selling M-rated games to minors.
The bill, HB 353, was introduced by Utah House Representative Mike Morley and sought to expand its Truth in Advertising statute to fine or even file suit against retailers
who adhere to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board's voluntary rating system but are found to sell an M-rated game to minors.
Huntsman's veto overrides the House and Senate, both of which near unanimously supported the measure, passing it with a 70-2 majority and a 25-4 majority earlier this month, respectively.
"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," said Huntsman in a letter to Utah President Michael Waddoups.
The Governor noted that the industries who would have been affected by the bill would likely drop their age-appropriate labels rather than risk being fined or sued for false advertising if they violate the self-imposed rule.
"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," he explained. "This would increase 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.
Michal Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, a trade body representing U.S. game publishers added in a statement, "This is an absolute win for families. Utah’s parents will benefit from Governor Huntsman’s leadership and thoughtfulness on this issue."
"His decisive action helps caregivers and prevents businesses from being opened to unproductive, wasteful civil litigation and needless expense," he continued. "Parents can be assured that the strength of the ESRB rating system remains intact and continues to serve as a valuable resource and will continue to effectively serve them.”