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 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 […]

Missouri Sen. Cindy O'Laughlin, R-Shelbina.

Capitol Perspectives: Legislative fights for leadership

By: - November 18, 2022

The recent party caucuses of Missouri’s legislature provide an example for the U.S. Congress of a more civil and productive approach to dealing with changes after a general election. Congressional party caucuses have been divided by ideological, political and personality conflicts. That is so different from the comments of newly elected Missouri Senate Majority Leader […]


Capitol Perspectives: Missouri voters vs. their elected officials

By: - October 10, 2022

There is an issue on Missouri’s statewide general election ballot that I will be watching to see if Missourians continue a trend of rejecting the decisions of their elected officials. It is the initiative petition proposal to legalize possession and sale of marijuana. That’s an idea that has made no headway in the legislature. In […]


Capitol Perspectives: Legislative food fights

By: - October 6, 2022

Missouri’s legislative special session dealing with tax cuts is a reminder of how often in past decades tax-cut bills have become food fights for getting tax burdens reduced for a variety of special interests. The governor’s original proposal was to cut state income tax rates and extend the expiration of existing tax breaks for various […]


Capitol Perspectives: Missouri’s one-party primaries

By: - August 10, 2022

One of the major aspects of Missouri’s recent primary was the number of races for which there actually was no contest. In more than half of the 180 state legislative districts on the ballot, one of the two major parties did not have a candidate. That meant that in those 100-single-party district primaries, the primary […]


Capitol Perspectives: Possible reasons for Missouri’s legislative dysfunction

By: - May 23, 2022

This column was inspired by a discussion with Missouri Independent Reporter Rudi Keller the day after the 2022 legislative session adjourned. We reminisced about earlier years when there seemed to be a more intense focus on the specific details of public policy rather than ideology and pondered what caused the change. Has it been the […]


Capitol Perspectives: A dysfunctional legislative session

By: - May 16, 2022

The 2022 regular session of the Missouri General Assembly was the most dysfunctional I can remember in more than 50 years covering the statehouse. Endless Senate filibusters stalled action for weeks on major issues for Missourians — contributing to the second lowest percentage of bills passed in an annual session in more than one-third of […]