Oklahoma House Bill 2696, which looked to propose an additional 1% sales tax on sales of “violent” video games, has been voted down by the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation. The bill, which would’ve affected all purchased games rated Teen and above by the Entertainment Software Review Board, was struck down by a 5-6 vote.
During the meeting, the minutes of which were posted by Oklahoma Watchdog, representatives questioned the bill’s author, Rep. William Fourkiller (D – District 86), as to just what the bill would accomplish. Mr. Fourkiller stated that the bill had been amended to remove the tax provisions and instead make this a “task force” to combat obesity.
There is no indication as to who voted for what. The subcommittee is split eight to three in favour of Republicans. The bill had come under scrutiny by groups tied to gaming, technology, and free speech groups, including the Video Game Voters Network.
Gaming Bus has put in numerous requests for comment into the office of Rep. Fourkiller, but has not heard a response as of press time.
Representative Fourkiller initially introduced HB 2696 on January 19 with the intention of using the revenues to create funds to combat obesity and bullying. He is in his first term in the Oklahoma House.
Analysis: Rep. Fourkiller knew this bill was in trouble as it was when he made the amendment making this a task force, which basically neutered it altogether. In other words, he wanted this thing to get past committee just to save face, especially after the heavy criticism this brought from outside groups. Said criticism, I’m sure, was uncomfortable for a freshman politician who has accomplished absolutely nothing in his time in the House.
Regardless, this was a stupid law: the flaws with it have been pointed out both by myself and others, and it’s been relegated to places in which it belongs now. Its death was quick, brutal, and deserved.
The one point in this that I think people are missing is the involvement of the Video Game Voters Network and their amazingly quick turnaround time regarding the bill. I want to use this opportunity to remind everyone that the Video Game Voters Network is not representative of gamers. It’s a front organization for the Entertainment Software Association that is, as Destructoid’s Jim Sterling stated during the SOPA protests, a pretense. The ESA wanted this bill destroyed because it would’ve hurt the financial interests of their members, and the VGVN is nothing more than a community mobilization tool meant to gain public support. Morality doesn’t play into this, and they’ve proven that they don’t care about the public unless they need something from them. Don’t let one miniscule victory obscure that fact.