Oklahoma violent games tax defeated in House

By Steve Watts, Feb 23, 2012 5:45pm PST

The proposed Oklahoma bill that would add a 1% tax on violent video games has been defeated in a state House subcommittee. A proposed revision would create a task force to investigate the causes of childhood obesity and aggression, and it was subsequently defeated as well.

The Video Game Voters Network reports that HB 2696 was defeated on February 20 in a meeting of the House Revenue and Tax Subcommittee. The bill had planned to put the revenues raised toward programs to combat childhood obesity and bullying.

State representative William Fourkiller, who initially created the bill, proposed a special subcommittee the following day. It was titled the "Oklahoma Task Force on Video Games' Relationship to Obesity and Aggression," but it was defeated with a 5-6 vote.

Notes on the meeting from the Oklahoma Watchdog site show the skepticism that led to the task force being shot down. Rep. Anastasia Pittman pointed out that the task force would be redundant, since the state already has a media violence task force in the Senate. Rep. Pat Ownbey asked why video games would be singled out as a cause of obesity or aggression.

"It's not a good idea," said Rep. Mike Reynolds. "We could have a task force on a multitude of reasons children are obese. Why we're pickling violent video games was because it was originally a tax."

The bill seems functionally dead now, having failed to make it past the subcommittee stage. That's probably for the best, seeing as the Entertainment Software Association seemed ready to fight. California was recently ordered to pay nearly $1 million in legal fees for its misguided court battle, so the citizens of Oklahoma can be thankful they won't have to foot a similar bill.

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