Phill Brooks

Phill Brooks

Phill Brooks has been a Missouri statehouse reporter since 1970, making him dean of the statehouse press corps. He is the statehouse correspondent for KMOX Radio, director of MDN and an emeritus faculty member of the Missouri School of Journalism. He has covered every governor since the late Warren Hearnes.


Capitol Perspective: There must be a better way to do ballot descriptions

By: - September 7, 2023

Recent disputes and lawsuits about how abortion-rights initiative petitions would be summarized on the ballot demonstrates a serious problem with the process required in Missouri before signatures can be collected. Under the current process, the top of the proposal contains an estimated cost written by the state auditor and a short description written by the […]


Capitol Perspectives: Missouri courage in holding officials accountable

By: - August 21, 2023

Missouri’s history offers a stark contrast to the limited criticism by Republican members of Congress to Donald Trump’s criminal charges. The defenses by Republican officials to Trump’s indictments are quite different from Missouri’s legislature during the last several decades when there was strong support for removal of officials from the same party who faced charges […]


Capitol Perspectives: A dysfunctional Missouri Senate

By: - May 29, 2023

The closing days of Missouri’s legislature were among the most dysfunctional I’ve covered in more than one half century. Filibusters by Senate Republican conservatives blocked action on a number of issues. Ironically, the issues killed included conservative issues to allow firearms on public transportation and to increase the vote percentage required for approval of a […]


Capitol Perspectives: Missourians’ right to change their constitution

By: - May 5, 2023

Missouri’s Republican legislators might want to give a second thought to their party’s push to impose higher vote requirements to amend the state constitution. If some of these requirements had been in effect in 1980, it likely would have led to voter defeat of a major issue for Republicans. The 1980 “Hancock” constitutional amendment requires […]


Capitol Perspectives: Dealing with government disruptions

By: - April 20, 2023

Missouri represents an interesting perspective for the vote of Tennessee’s House to expel two of its members for disrupting a legislative session trying to highlight firearm issues. As far as I can discover, Missouri has expelled just two House members in the state’s long history. The first was in 1865 when Rep. John Sampson was […]


Capitol Perspectives: Bringing order to the Missouri House

By: - March 31, 2023

Missouri’s House took an unusual step this year in an effort to bring more order to the legislative process. The House adopted a rule that limits a member next year from sponsoring more than 20 bills in a session, with a few exceptions such as the House Budget chair who sponsors all the governor’s budget […]


Capitol Perspectives: Mike Parson’s attacks on statehouse reporters

By: - March 3, 2023

Missouri’s Gov. Mike Parson has engaged in escalating restrictions against journalists covering Missouri’s Capitol. His hindrances on statehouse reporters is unprecedented in the five decades I’ve covered Missouri state government. From Warren Hearnes until now, governors of both parties I’ve covered went out of their way to facilitate the efforts of journalists covering state government. […]


Capitol Perspectives: Dealing with legislative misbehavior

By: - February 21, 2023

Members of the U.S. Congress should take a look at Missouri’s legislature on how to deal with New York U.S. Rep. George Santos who is facing a number of allegations. Santos campaigned falsely portraying himself as Jewish, that his mother was at the World Trade Center on 9/11 and other claims subsequently proven as false. […]


Capitol Perspectives: Improving Missouri’s Sunshine Law

By: - January 30, 2023

The 50-year golden anniversary of Missouri’s Sunshine Law has led me to reflect on what could be done to restore the vision of Missouri’s original Sunshine Law sponsors. Recent news stories and editorials of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star concluded the Sunshine Law needs an “overhaul.” I could not agree more […]

Exterior Missouri State Capitol building

Capitol Perspectives: The 50th anniversary of Missouri’s Sunshine Law

By: - December 29, 2022

The fall of 2023 will be the 50th anniversary of the legislative birth of Missouri’s Sunshine Law that provides the public with sweeping rights to documents, voting records and meetings of state and local governments. The Sunshine Law’s foundation has a long history. The 1972 Watergate scandal of President Richard Nixon contributed to election of […]


Capitol Perspectives: Performance audits

By: - December 19, 2022

The election of Republican Scott Fitzpatrick as Missouri State Auditor on a campaign to investigate public school curricula reminded me of prior state auditors who expanded the role of the auditor’s office. Elected in 1974, Democrat George Lehr was the first auditor I covered who fundamentally expanded the scope of the auditor’s role. Prior auditors […]


Capitol Perspectives: Dealing with Violence

By: - December 2, 2022

This column is written in the aftermath of two recent fatal shootings in mid-Missouri. One was two deaths in Jefferson City and the other in Columbia. Those incidents renewed questions I’ve had for years about how civilized citizens should respond to a growing environment that portrays lethal violence as entertainment. To understand this column, you […]