In context: Lawmakers are still trying to unequivocally draw parallels between school violence and video games. Now, a lawmaker in Pennsylvania wants to tax violent video games an additional 10 percent, and use those taxes to ostensibly enhance school safety. This is after similar legislature failed last year. Pennsylvania joins other states, like Rhode Island, who have proposed similar taxes.
A lawmaker from Pennsylvania is seeking to resurrect a bill from 2018 that would see an excise tax of 10 percent placed on mature rated games, or otherwise "violent" titles.
HB 109 as it's now known, is similarly worded to its failed predecessor. The imposed tax would be in addition to state and local taxes, and could see the price of a new game increase to as much as $70. The newly collected taxes would be appropriated to the Digital Protection for School Safety Account, which according to the bill's wording, is established for the "purpose of enhancing school safety measures implemented by school districts."
Republican Chris Quinn, who also introduced the bill last year, is sponsoring the bill again. Quinn stated last year that he believes there's a link between violent video games and the rise of school shootings, where kids "act out" what they see in video games. Quinn also introduced Act 44 of 2018, which greatly overhauled requirements for schools in the sate of Pennsylvania, but he feels there's more that can be done at a state level.
The Entertainment Software Association is taking a hardened stance against it, however, as they usually do. In a statement to Variety, the ESA put it rather bluntly.
“The U.S. Supreme Court made clear in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association & Entertainment Software Association that video games are entitled to the full protection of the Constitution, and that efforts, like Pennsylvania’s, to single out video games based on their content will be struck down,” the ESA said. “Numerous authorities — including scientists, medical professionals, government agencies, and the US Supreme Court — found that video games do not cause violence. We encourage Pennsylvania legislators to work with us to raise awareness about parental controls and the ESRB video game rating system, which are effective tools to ensure parents maintain control over the video games played in their home.”
The ESA went on to call the bill “a violation of the U.S. Constitution.” Quinn's HB 109 was modeled after a similar bill proposed in Rhode Island that would've levied a 10 percent tax on violent video games, and then use the collected taxes to fund mental health programs.