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.

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 […]

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 […]