Wisconsin Senator Proposes Video Game Tax

Wisconsin is famous for many things. For instance there’s cheese, the Packers and Frank Lloyd Wright. It also has a darker side though. Being responsible for people like Ed Gein, Bob Uecker and Senator Joe McCarthy it has had a fair share of dark times. There’s even the town of Friendship, WI that at one point boasted a murder rate higher than any other city in the U.S. according to populace. Today Wisconsin adds another, if not dark chapter, stupid one. Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) has proposed to tax video games in a bill about juvenile criminals.

The proposal comes connected to a bill that would keep courts from trying seventeen year olds as adults in non-violent crimes. The senator argues that seventeen year olds should not be treated as adults and ought to have access to juvenile rehabilitation facilities instead of being sent to federal pound me in the ass prison. Of course he didn’t use those words but the question of how the state will pay for the facilities was raised. To fund the bill Sen. Erpenbach wants to tax an extra one percent surcharge on top of Wisconsin’s five percent sales taxes in video game sales statewide.

He denies that the tax is a reaction to violent video games, but the undertone is there nonetheless. That implication was not lost on ESA’s Michael Gallagher who jumped on the bill saying that Senator Erpenbach’s proposal would hurt the gaming industry claiming it a discriminatory tax. In response Erpenbach said “The idea being that this is kind of a kids-kids thing, in other words, if we’re going to do this for kids maybe this would be a good way to go about it. And if it’s not the best way, I’m open to any other way.” What the analytical reader will hear from this statement is that so long as it’s for the kids, we might as well charge the kids.

Being from Wisconsin myself this really doesn’t sound like a reaction to violence in games or an attempt to curb video game play. It just sounds like another senator being too dumb for our own good. If passed, the one percent tax won’t be much more than a moral affront. Despite its recent announcement, it’s looking to fail before it even reaches a vote. At least there’s still Senator Russ Feingold to keep Wisconsin sane.