Utah governor vetoes bill restricting video-game advertising

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Jon Huntsman yesterday vetoed a bill that would have placed advertising restrictions on stores selling violent video games.

Huntsman had been pressured by retailers and video-game players to veto H.B. 353, sponsored by state Rep. Mike Morley, R-Spanish Fork. The bill would have exposed stores to civil action if they advertised that they didn't sell video games rated “Mature” to underage kids, but did anyway.

Under the bill, only stores that violated the advertising practices identified in the bill three times could have been punished.

“While protecting children from inappropriate materials is a laudable goal, the language of this bill is so broad that it likely will be struck down by the courts as unconstitutional,” the Republican governor wrote in his veto letter, as quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune.

He also said it would have led to stores deciding not to label any video games rather than risk running up against the law.

“The unintended consequence of the bill would be that parents and children would have no labels to guide them in determining the age appropriateness of the goods or service, thereby increasing children's potential exposure to something they or their parents would have otherwise determined was inappropriate under the voluntary labeling system now being recognized and embraced by a significant majority of vendors,” Huntsman wrote.

A message left with Morley was not returned in time for this story.

His bill passed in the Senate 25-4 and in the House 67-3, creating the possibility lawmakers could override Huntsman's veto.

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