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: 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 […]

Missouri House

Capitol Perspectives: Divisive ideological fights in Missouri’s legislature

By: - May 2, 2022

Missouri’s legislature enters its final days of the 2022 legislative session facing an unusually large pile of partisan and ideological divisive issues. In an election year, it is not unusual that some legislators seek to highlight issues that will inspire their party’s loyalists to vote. This year’s partisan issues include requiring a photo ID to […]


Capitol Perspectives: Rethinking Missouri Senate filibusters

By: - April 15, 2022

After so many decades covering the legislative process, I’ve gained an appreciation about Senate filibusters. So many times, I’ve seen benefits from the power of a senator or two to speak for as long as possible to delay hasty action. Filibusters can be effective tools to forge compromises that sometimes involve other issues before the […]


Capitol Perspectives: There’s got to be a better way

By: - April 4, 2022

This year’s process to redraw Missouri’s legislative districts represents the danger of handing that responsibility to partisan politicians. Every 10 years following the national census, district lines must be redrawn to meet the U.S. constitutional requirement for near equal distribution of population among the districts. The 2018 Clean Missouri ballot issue gave the job of […]


Capitol Perspectives: Ukraine’s example for Missouri lawmakers

By: - March 17, 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine promises to be a fascinating issue for Missouri lawmakers in the session’s closing weeks. Already measures have been filed to prohibit state and local government from purchasing Russian products and ban contracts with businesses that have ongoing contracts with Russian “strategic industries.” There also are bills to suspend for six […]


Capitol Perspectives: Diminishing words of inspiration

By: - March 4, 2022

Missouri’s governmental and political discourse on several major issues has descended from words of inspiration into hateful partisan and ideological rhetoric that leaves little room for compromise. The hateful language we have heard from the Senate congressional redistricting filibusters and the objections from women senators about the animosity is just one example. “I pleaded with […]


Capitol Perspectives: Missouri Congressional redistricting

By: - February 18, 2022

The extended Missouri Senate filibusters about congressional redistricting is a reminder about how bitter and divisive this issue can be. This year it has involved an historically long Senate filibuster, objections by women legislators about the tone of the debate, a tweet by the governor’s communications director that escalated the gender issue and repeated arguments […]


Capitol Perspectives: Legislative targeting of education

By: - February 4, 2022

This year’s session of Missouri’s legislature has been flooded with measures to control what local public schools must do or cannot do. It represents an erosion of the reverence I regularly heard from lawmakers of both parties about the near sanctity of local control over education by locally elected school district board members. Beyond that, […]


Capitol Perspectives: The profound change in Missouri’s legislature

By: - January 26, 2022

This column is prompted by a question from a long-time statehouse observer as to why Missouri’s legislature has become so divided. My answer involved the number of changes in the statehouse over the decades. A major cause has been the deep and growing ideological divide for the public and elected public officials. Years ago, a […]


Capitol Perspectives: A possible partisan legislative food fight

By: - December 31, 2021

Missouri’s election year legislative session begins with many of the bills filed raising partisan disputes. Proposed limits on COVID-19 restrictions are a major focus. Well more than two dozen bills were pre-filed to restrict COVID-19 mandates. Some would block mandating a test, mask or proof of vaccination. One measure even would make any employer, including […]


Capitol Perspectives: Personal attacks in Congress versus Missouri 

By: - December 13, 2021

The recent personal and racially tinged partisan attacks by a couple of U.S. House members, and the absence of swift discipline, stands in stark contrast to how legislators treat one another in Missouri’s General Assembly. This contrast reminded me of a speech by the late Sen. Richard Webster made on the night of his final […]