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: 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 […]


Capitol Perspectives: Missouri Gov. Parson’s unprecedented attacks on journalists

By: - December 7, 2021

I begin this column with a confession. We journalists are reluctant to report about ourselves because under journalism ethics, a reporter should avoid covering something in which the reporter has a conflict of interest. But Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s continuing attacks against news organizations and specific reporters are so unprecedented that I feel compelled to […]


Capitol Perspectives: WKRP lessons for Missouri

By: - November 18, 2021

The 10 deaths at a packed Houston, Texas, concert crowd raised powerful and haunting memories for me from an episode of an old TV series more than four decades ago — “WKRP in Cincinnati.” The series was one of the best comedy shows I’ve seen on TV. It also was an addictive series because it […]


Capitol Perspectives: Judicial correction of legislative gaffes

By: - November 5, 2021

A recent New York Times article about U.S. Supreme Court edits of wording mistakes reminded me about how Missouri’s Supreme Court has dealt with legislative mistakes. The New York Times story referenced an editing correction the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1928 property-rights case in which decision incorrectly used the word “property” for what was […]


Capitol Perspectives: A personal perspective of Todd Akin

By: - October 18, 2021

I write this column about Todd Akin hoping it provides readers a better perspective about journalists and public officials, but also that it might encourage politicians and public officials to be less hostile about journalistic motivations. Akin’s Oct. 3 death reminded me of the special relationship we had which I suspect will surprise many of […]


Capitol Perspectives: The governor’s charge of a journalist hack

By: - October 15, 2021

I’m writing this column after one of the most vicious and unfounded attacks I’ve heard by a Missouri governor against a major Missouri news organization. It involves the St. Louis Post-Dispatch story published Thursday about how a state education department website allowed access to the Social Security numbers of teachers. Rather than praising the newspaper’s […]


Capitol Perspectives: The loss of a major state leader, Jim Mathewson

By: - October 1, 2021

Missouri has lost one of the most influential Senate leaders in at least the past half century. It would be difficult to exaggerate the accomplishments of Jim Mathewson who died Sept. 28 from cancer. The Sedalia Democrat served nearly one-quarter of a century in Missouri’s Senate achieving a pile of major legislative accomplishments. After serving […]


Capitol Perspectives: Impeaching governors

By: - August 20, 2021

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent resignation following allegations of inappropriate behavior with women staffers offers some interesting similarities but also contrasts with the resignation of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who faced allegations of violent sexual misconduct. Both resigned while facing likely impeachment. But the constitutional grounds for impeachment are quite different between the […]

The Missouri House floor for the 2019 State of the State address.

Capitol Perspectives: Medicaid’s financial history

By: - July 23, 2021

There is a fascinating history to Missouri’s recent special session to fix the legislature’s failure to continue one of the state’s most important financial mechanisms that assures adequate funding for Medicaid health coverage. The mechanism goes back to 1990, when Missouri accepted voluntary contributions from the Missouri Hospital Association to provide higher Medicaid reimbursements for […]