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Missouri House member sponsors bill for a 'violent video game' tax

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Rep. Diane Franklin, R-Mo., is sponsoring a state bill that would levy a 1 percent sales tax on "violent video games" based on their ESRB ratings, according to the online publication of House Bill No. 157 (PDF link).

The act, which was presented to the Missouri House on Jan. 14, defines all video games with Teen, Mature and Adult Only ratings as violent and eligible for the tax. The revenue generated would be earmarked for "the treatment of mental health conditions associated with exposure to violent video games."

Section B of the proposal states "immediate action is necessary to protect the mental health of individuals exposed to violent video games"and makes the case that "this act is hereby declared to be an emergency act within the meaning of the constitution." It was read a second time before the House on Jan. 15.

The proposal comes in the wake of the recent shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. that left 28 dead, many of them children. Rep. Franklin framed the bill as a response to shootings.

"History shows there is a mental health component to these shootings," Franklin said, according to the Associated Press.

The Entertainment Software Association, which provides public relations for the video game industry, provided the AP with a statement, saying that "Taxing First Amendment protected speech based on its content is not only wrong, but will end up costing Missouri taxpayers."