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Video games in Spitzer's cross hairs PDF Print E-mail
Written by MICHAEL GORMLEY, Associated Press Writer   
Wednesday, April 18, 2007

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Gov. Eliot Spitzer will take a shot at violent videos and video games as part his remaining 2007 legislative agenda that includes campaign finance reform, streamlining the courts, and energy development.
Spitzer said he will soon provide a bill that would target the ratings of video movies and video games "that are often violent and degrading" and can hurt children who repeatedly use and view them.
Spitzer said he wants to restrict access to these videos and games by children, similar to motion picture regulations which prohibit youths under 17 from being admitted to R-rated movies without a parent or adult guardian.
Under Spitzer's proposal, retailers who sell violent or degrading videos or video games to children contrary to the rating would be sanctioned.
The Democrat said his approach would be similar to greater enforcement in recent years to stop the sale of cigarettes to minors.
"It's certainly going to be one of our priorities," said Republican Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. "We have bills that address that."
But Bruno said Spitzer's top priority should be reviving the upstate economy.
"When the governor ran for office, he traveled this whole state and did remarkably well," Bruno said. "And, everywhere he went he talked about the upstate economy."
Bruno's priorities include construction aid for new businesses and $1.3 billion in tax breaks for manufacturers and small business.
Spitzer noted he got most of his property tax cut plan enacted to help upstate; has created an upstate co-chairman for the state's primary economic development agency; and is requiring bidders for the state's thoroughbred racing franchise to prove they will boost that industry upstate.
Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also supported the idea of targeting violent video games and DVDs, along with Spitzer's priority to fight childhood obesity and diabetes through nutrition education and healthier menus in schools.
Silver said his priorities include reinvigorating the Power for Jobs program that subsidizes energy costs for businesses to help them grow and locate in the state.
He also wants to see legislation to further reform public authorities, which have been criticized as unregulated agencies that can borrow hundreds of millions of dollars with little oversight.
Silver also hopes to further curtail long Rockefeller-era drug sentences for comparatively small amounts of drugs, and supports Spitzer's proposal to reform the Wick's Law, a pro-union measure blamed for driving up the cost of public construction.
Spitzer's other priorities for the legislative session scheduled to end June 21 include:
—Campaign finance. He wants to dramatically decrease the limits for contributions, which can be $50,000 by an individual and some businesses to a single candidate.
—Redistricting. He wants to pass a law that would lead to a constitutional amendment to change the way legislative districts are drawn. Good-government groups say the current system, in which the Legislature draws up the districts, protects majority parties and incumbents and limits the chances for challengers.
—Energy. He wants to revive the state's law that would allow the building of new, cleaner burning power plants needed for business to expand. Environmental groups opposed previous measures. He also wants to increase the number of wind-power facilities.
—Judicial raises. He wants to increase judges' salaries, but not "hold them hostage" to raising legislators' pay. As part of that, he wants to reorganize the courts to make the system more efficient, as proposed by Chief Judge Judith Kaye.
Not in his priorities for this session are some other campaign pledges, including legalizing same-sex marriage and the death penalty for police officer killers and terrorists.

 

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