The continued efforts by US states to introduce legislation preventing the sale of violent videogames to minors took another turn yesterday, as a Florida Senate committee hearing passed a new bill by a vote of 7-1.
Senate Bill 492, sponsored by Florida Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla, is closely modelled on the California AB1179, imposing fines for retailers selling violent videogames to minors of up to USD 1000 per infraction. Additionally, the bill would impose government-approved labels on videogames, on top of the existing self-regulatory ESRB ratings system.
In a statement to the Miami Herald, Senator Diaz de la Portilla commented: "Children don't have the same kind of maturity and experiences as adults do. ''Left to their own devices, children often do not realise the harm they are causing themselves through the exposure to graphic sexual and violent content found in many of today's video games."
Despite the bill passing the committee hearing, actual implementation of the legislation would seem highly unlikely. The continued efforts of the Entertainment Software Association have so far resulted in the prevention of similar laws in Indianapolis, Michigan and Illinois. The publicly debated California bill introduced by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was also halted recently, on the grounds of being unconstitutional.
Entertainment Software Association representative, Sally Jefferson commented: ''Video games are protected speech under the First Amendment just like movies, books and television."
The ESA is also contesting Senator Clinton's Family Entertainment Protection Act, which also closely follows the proposed legislation from various States, including those pending in Delaware, Indiana and Maryland.