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Morning headlines: Wednesday, January 11, 2011

Flickr/Fried Dough
A Mo. Senator is proposing to eliminate the state income tax for some low-income residents while raising the tax on smokers.

Mo. Senator wants to increase cigarette tax and eliminate state income tax for low income people

Republican state Sen. John Lamping, of Ladue, has filed legislation that would exempt anyone earning less than $2,000 from having to pay state income tax and slightly lower the taxes for people earning more than that. His legislation would offset the projected $128 million reduction in state income tax revenues by increasing the cigarette tax to 43 cents per pack.

Missouri's current cigarette tax of 17 cents per pack is the lowest in the nation.

Joplin Home Depot to reopen Thursday morning

The Home Depot store in Joplin where seven people died during a tornado is set to reopen. A ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday evening, with the official opening Thursday morning.

The store will reopen at the same site where it stood when it was destroyed by the May 22 tornado. Home Depot had been operating at a temporary tent store in the parking lot since June.

Store manager Steve Cope says he's excited to be back in the store, and he believes it will help the morale of employees and the city. The Joplin Globe reports that the store includes memorials to the tornado victims and a reinforced safety room. The store employs about 100 people.

Relatives of slain 9-year-old girl disappointed with plea agreement

An attorney for the mother of Elizabeth Olten says the family does not believe justice was fully served Tuesday when Alyssa Bustamante pleaded guilty to killing the girl in October 2009.

Bustamante originally had been charged with first-degree murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison without parole. She pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second-degree murder, which is punishable by 10-to-30 years in prison or life with the possibility of parole. 

A sentencing hearing is set for Feb. 6. Attorney Matt Diehr says Elizabeth's mother and other relatives plan to "continue to seek justice" by any legal means available.



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