Oklahoma House Democrat Will Fourkiller introduces a 1% surcharge on all Teen-rated and up games sold in his state to combat childhood obesity and bullying.
Fourkiller’s bill, HB 2696, singles out what Fourkiller classifies as “violent” video games to deal with those issues of obesity and youth violence which the State Representative indirectly attributes to video games based on his time as a teacher, coach, and registered nurse. In an interview with news station KFOR, Fourkiller cites an incident where an unnamed assailant shot an officer while in the process of stealing a car after having played Grand Theft Auto, elaborating that hours of time with games can cause desensitization in the player.
The bill follows the model of tobacco taxes in many states that place and additional surcharge on cigarette sales in order to pay for anti-smoking campaigns in their states. Fourkiller’s proposed legislation would apply 50% of the income from the tax to the Childhood Outdoor Education Revolving Fund as well as the Bullying Prevention Revolving Fund.
Fourkiller says that he’s not singling out the game industry, but the tax does omit any other sort of “violent” media. Also, given the nebulous definition of violence in the bill, the surcharge would include titles with T ratings and above, i.e. Rock Band 3 would be taxed in the same way as Modern Warfare 3 under the proposed legislation.
Fourkiller’s bill will be read before the House on February 6th.