Florida game restriction bill introduced

Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla's SB492 bears striking resemblance to recently passed California bill.

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In a stroke of déjà vu that gamers are quickly becoming familiar with, Florida state Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R-District 36) has introduced a bill that seeks to restrict the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

The bill bears more than a passing resemblance to the game restriction bill California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed into law. The language for what constitutes a "violent video game" is identical, as are the $1,000 limit on fines resulting from breaking the law and the requirement that violent games be labeled with a 2-by-2-inch sticker depicting a solid white "18" outlined in black. About the only difference between the two bills is that Diaz de la Portilla's legislation makes it illegal for violent games to be made available to minors in arcades as well as in stores.

Game restriction laws are becoming a popular topic for both Republicans and Democrats of late. California Democrat Assemblyman Leland Yee introduced the game bill in that state, while earlier this year, Democrat New York Senator Hillary Clinton called for federal legislation based on Yee's bill. However, Schwarzenegger and Diaz de la Portilla are both Republicans, and a bipartisan group backing Clinton's call for federal legislation shows the violent games debate is one that isn't likely to split along party lines.

The bill would likely be a welcome change of tone in publicity for Diaz de la Portilla, who has spent much of the year embroiled in an ethics scandal over his failure to comply with campaign finance laws, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The newspaper reports that after winning a 2000 special election, Diaz de la Portilla was accused of failing to report more than $150,000 in cash and contributions, as well as $68,000 in expenditures. In 2001, the Florida Elections Commission found him guilty of 311 violations of the law and handed down a fine of more than $300,000. However, a jury acquitted him of the criminal charges, and he had most of the fines overturned on appeal. He is currently contesting the last $17,000 in fines.

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