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Morning headlines: Coleman text messages, Mo tatoos, Il Budget

A new Missouri proposal triples the fees for tattoo artists in the state. Officials says the fee increase is needed to finance its oversight of the growing industry. (Flickr Creative Commons, madaboutasia)
  • Prosecutors and defense attorneys were in court Tuesday arguing over whether a jury should hear testimony from prosecution witnesses in the trial of Christopher Coleman next year. Coleman is charged in the strangulation death of his wife, Sheri, and their two sons in May 2009 in Columbia, Il. Coleman's attorneys are trying to block prosecutors from using text messages Sheri Coleman sent to friends about martial problems before the killings. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, friends said Tuesday that Sheri confided that Christopher felt she and their two sons were in the way of his career with Joyce Meyer Ministries. Circuit Judge Milton Wharton is expected to issue a decision on the matter next month.
  • Missouri is proposing to triple the fees charged to tattoo artists to finance its oversight of the growing industry. A proposal published for public comment earlier this month would charge a two-year fee of $100 to each tattooist or body piercer - up significantly from the current $30 fee. Licensing fees also would rise for businesses that offer the services. The higher fees are projected to generate about $120,000 for the state during each two-year licensing period. A spokesman for the state agency that oversees professional licensing said the fee increase is needed to cover the inspection and legal costs of regulating the industry. Since 2005, the number of Missouri businesses licensed to provide tattoos, body piercing and branding has risen by more than one-third.
  • The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has floated a plan to borrow up to $15 billion to pay down the state's massive deficit. Lawmakers say officials from the Democrat's administration have discussed the borrowing as an option, but that Quinn's people have not specified numbers. Quinn budget spokeswoman Kelly Kraft, says only that Quinn continues considering various options for dealing with a deficit that could hit $15 billion by June 2011. The options include a 1 percent income tax increase and "responsible borrowing." Large-scale borrowing faces a tough road. The Democratic-dominated Senate has been unable to scrape together enough votes to borrow $3.7 billion to pay this year's pension obligation.

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