Utah governor vetoes video game bill

Various tech blogs are reporting that Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has vetoed a bill that purported to impose harsh penalties on retailers that sold M-rated video games to underage buyers. Among other penalties, the bill would have provided for seller liability in a civil suit. However, as critics of the bill have pointed out all through the legislative process, the proposed provision had a gaping loophole that would have allowed retailers to opt out of the ratings system altogether. In addition to ineffective problems, the bill likely would not have passed constitutional muster because the language was so imprecise and was not content-neutral. That was the reason cited by Governor Huntsman when he vetoed the bill yesterday. In his accompanying letter (PDF), Huntsman specifically stated his opinion that the bill violated the Dormant Commerce Clause and/or the First Amendment.

The video game bill, HB353, had very broad support in both the Utah House and Senate, so there is still a chance of a legislative override. However, I hope that isn’t the case. Legislation like this is often popular in conservative jurisdictions like Utah, but there’s no point in passing an unconstitutional law that won’t accomplish anything. Additionally, this bill has a strange pedigree, as it was purportedly drafted by Jack Thompson, a controversial disbarred Florida lawyer who has campaigned in several states for laws against video games.

1 thought on “Utah governor vetoes video game bill”

  1. Jack Thompson – is he a professional? If he was disbarred, would the legal profession still call him a professional – even maybe just a professional lobbyist? I am working on a consumer issue – Do you have a good definition for the term “professional”? Is it a noun (professionally-earned in occupation) or is it an adjective (self-proclaimed)? I want to know what you think. Please email me via the Free Consultation webform on my website

    Thank you, , Mary Petty

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