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    Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Former Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV

    Posted on 2013-01-24

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    ROCKEFELLER (for himself, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Coburn, Mr. Johanns, and Mr. Heller): S. 134. A bill to arrange for the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent video games and violent video programming on children; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.



    Mr. ROCKEFELLER. Mr. President, I still well up with deep emotion when I see Newtown parents remembering their lost children, recalling what they wore to school that day or their last sweet words before boarding the school bus. The memory of that horrifying day, and of those children and their teachers, has not waned, nor should it ever. It should be an enduring call to action to do everything we can to save innocent lives.

    That is why I have championed a comprehensive approach to combating gun violence, and support the President's plan to protect the Nation's citizens. West Virginians have a proud tradition of hunting and understand the importance of the Second Amendment. I know we can protect those traditions and rights as we look at ways to prevent senseless acts of violence.

    One piece of this comprehensive examination concerns violent content, including video games and video programming. I have long had concerns about how the violent content that kids see and interact with every day affects their wellbeing. This is a very important issue, and one that deserves further research, as even the President recognized. That is why, as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, I am introducing today the Violent Content Research Act of 2013. Under this legislation, the National Academy of Sciences would conduct a comprehensive study on the connection between exposure to violent video games and video programming and harmful effects on children.

    Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians, and psychologists know better.

    These court decisions show we need to conduct additional groundwork on this issue. This report would be a critical resource in this process. It could inform research by other organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control, and provide guidance to lawmakers. I call on my colleagues to join me in passing this important legislation quickly.

    Separately, I will be calling on the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to expand their work in this area. The FTC has reviewed the effectiveness of the video game ratings system. The FCC has looked at the impact of violent programming on children. Changes in technology now allow kids to access violent content on-line and increasingly from mobile platforms with less parental involvement. It is time for these two agencies to take a fresh look at these issues.

    Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children. They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role.

    [[Page S288]] Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

    There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 134 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Violent Content Research Act of 2013''.

    SEC. 2. STUDY; NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES.

    (a) In General.--Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Health and Human Services, jointly, shall undertake to enter into appropriate arrangements with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a comprehensive study and investigation of-- (1) whether there is a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children; and (2) whether there is a connection between exposure to violent video programming and harmful effects on children.

    (b) Contents of Study and Investigation.-- (1) Violent video games.--The study and investigation under subsection (a) shall include-- (A) whether the exposure listed under subsection (a)(1)-- (i) causes children to act aggressively or causes other measurable harm to children; (ii) has a disproportionately harmful effect on children already prone to aggressive behavior or on other identifiable groups of children; and (iii) has a harmful effect that is distinguishable from any negative effects produced by other types of media; (B) whether any harm identified under subparagraph (A)(i) has a direct and long-lasting impact on a child's well-being; and (C) whether current or emerging characteristics of video games have a unique impact on children, considering in particular video games' interactive nature and the extraordinarily personal and vivid way violence might be portrayed in such video games.

    (2) Violent video programming.--The study and investigation under subsection (a) shall include-- (A) whether the exposure listed under subsection (a)(2)-- (i) causes children to act aggressively or causes other measurable harm to children; (ii) has a disproportionately harmful effect on children already prone to aggressive behavior or on other identifiable groups of children; and (iii) has a harmful effect that is distinguishable from any negative effects produced by other types of media; and (B) whether any harm identified under subparagraph (A)(i) has a direct and long-lasting impact on a child's well-being.

    (3) Future research.--The study and investigation under subsection (a) shall identify gaps in the current state of research which, if closed, could provide additional information regarding any causal connection-- (A) between exposure to violent video games and behavior; and (B) between exposure to violent video programming and behavior.

    (c) Report.--In entering into any arrangements with the National Academy of Sciences for conducting the study and investigation under this section, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Health and Human Services shall request the National Academy of Sciences to submit, not later than 15 months after the date on which such arrangements are completed, a report on the results of the study and investigation to-- (1) Congress; (2) the Federal Trade Commission; (3) the Federal Communications Commission; and (4) the Department of Health and Human Services.

    ______ By Mr. BAUCUS (for himself, Ms. Stabenow, and Mr. Blunt): S. 141. A bill to make supplemental agricultural disaster assistance available for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

    Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, last year the U.S. experienced the most severe and extensive drought in at least 25 years.

    While the impacts of the drought affected both crop and livestock sectors, our commodity farmers have had some protection under crop insurance. With the House not passing a 5 year reauthorization of the Farm Bill last year, we have left one sector of agriculture to fend for themselves.

    Our ranchers across the country and in my home State of Montana have experienced the most extensive drought since the 1950. About 80 percent of agricultural land experienced drought in 2012.

    As last year came and went, a drought stretched across the United States.

    Wheat and corn fields dried up. Without enough forage, ranchers faced the decision to either to sell their herds or purchase extra feed, cutting into their thin margins.

    As of this week, over 2,000 counties have been designated as drought disaster areas by the USDA.

    In my state of Montana, 36 counties, or well over half of our State, are in disaster. Compound that with one of the worst droughts in recent history and our cattle and sheep producers are hanging on by a thread.

    Where our corn, wheat, and soybean farmers have crop insurance as a backstop, we have left our ranchers without any assistance.

    Pastureland last year was scarce and the cost of feed, when it was even available, was often unaffordable. Many ranchers are responding by culling their herds.

    That is why I have introduced the supplemental agricultural disaster assistance. This bill takes the three livestock disaster program I created in the 2008 Farm Bill and extends them for 2012 and 2013 losses.

    Covering losses from 2012 and 2013 will give our livestock producers some assistance through one of the worst droughts anyone in this chamber can remember. It will also cover our ranchers until the House and Senate can complete the 2013 Farm Bill.

    These livestock disaster programs expired in September 2011, leaving our livestock producers with no safety net. For over a year and a half, through one of the worst droughts in recent memory, our producers have been left to fend for themselves.

    Congress must make the responsible decision and pass this standalone bill I introduce today with Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwomen of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Senator Roy Blunt.

    We must do our jobs and pass this basic safety net for ranchers.

    ______ By Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Levin, Mr. Rockefeller, Ms. Mikulski, Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Reed, Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Menendez, Mr. Cardin, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Schatz, Mr. Murphy, Ms. Warren, and Mr. Carper): S. 150. A bill to regulate assault weapons, to ensure that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited, and for other purposes; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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