The Louisiana House of Representatives has passed Democratic Representative Roy Burrell's HB1381 bill, covering violent video games, by an unanimous measure of 102-0 on Tuesday. If made into a law, the bill would prohibit the sale of games to minors that could be deemed as potentially harmful.
According to the Associated Press, several House members questioned the legality of the bill, and whether it would infringe upon citizen's free speech as protected by the Constitution. "That's for the courts to decide," commented Republican Representative Danny Martiny to the AP. "Anything's subject to challenge."
Several similar bills focused on content-based suppression of video games have been signed over the past year by governors in California, Illinois and Michigan banning the sale of violent games to minors, and each has been struck down
by federal courts.
The ESA, which has been instrumental in the striking down of other bills on First Amendment grounds, has already commented on the passing of this bill: "We believe that a combination of parental choice and parental control is the only legal, sensible, and most importantly, effective way to help parents keep inappropriate video games from children, and we dedicate ourselves to working with all parties to accomplish this goal."
The measure proposed by HB1381 would allow a judge to rule on whether or not a video game meets established criteria for being inappropriate for minors and be subsequently pulled from store shelves. In the event the bill becomes a law, a person found guilty of selling such a game to a minor would face fines ranging from $100 to $2,000, plus a prison term of up to one year.
HB1381 now heads to the Senate, where it will share the floor with a competing bill written by Republican State Senator James Cain. It appears, however, that while this bill was originally similar to HB1381, it was later rewritten to cover only sexual content deemed harmful to minors, and not violence.