Jefferson City, Mo. – Authorities say more people are registering as sex offenders because a new Missouri state law eliminates a loophole in the old one.
The Missouri Highway Patrol maintains a statewide database of offenders. It has grown by almost 600 in the past year. The loophole that was eliminated allowed sex offenders to skip out on registering if they never left their home counties.
Patrol fingerprint services supervisor Tammy Byrd says names on the state list increased from 8,174 to 8,715 in the past year.
Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois House yesterday voted to raise the smoking age to 19. It's not illegal for minors to smoke tobacco, just to buy it. The measure would raise that buying age to 19; with the exception of those 18-year olds in the military.
The House voted 80-to-32 in favor of the legislation. Chicago Democrat John Fritchey says the change would save lives by keeping some teenagers from smoking.
The Illinois Senate will next consider the measure.
St. Louis, Mo. – A Wood River, Ill. man Thursday pleaded guilty to making false terrorist threats against the Super Bowl, Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium, and Fair St. Louis.
Henry Hersman faces prison time; he said in court yesterday he was in a fight with a former business partner. He said he lied to the FBI that the man was plotting to crash airplanes into the landmarks.
Hersman will be sentenced June 6th in federal court in St. Louis. He remains in custody.
New Orleans, La. – A military hearing officer Thursday recommended against court-martialing two Illinois pilots who killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan last year in a mistaken bombing.
The recommendation was to be announced later today but it was disclosed by defense attorney Charles W. Gittins. Gittins says Col.Patrick Rosenow recommended that all charges against Maj. Harry Schmidt and Maj. William Umbach be dropped.
Springfield, Ill. – Governor Rod Blagojevich's new choice to head the Illinois State Police is a former state trooper from the Metro-East.
East Alton native Larry Trent retired from state police in 1993. He's currently the president of the Growth Association of Southwestern Illinois, a regional chamber of commerce made up of more than 600 businesses.
Shortly after retiring, he also helped Argosy set up security at the Alton Belle Casino.
Crystal City, Mo. – A substitute teacher is under investigation for allegedly having sex with students.
Police in the eastern Missouri town Crystal City say they have recovered videotapes from the home of the teacher. Detectives say the 33-year-old woman was substitute teaching at Crystal City Elementary School in Jefferson County.