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: The two sides of Bob Griffin

By: - July 12, 2021

The passing of former Missouri House Speaker Bob Griffin last week reminds me of a conflict I’ve seen so often with public officials between dedication to serving the public versus seeking financial or political gain. In his historic 15 years as speaker, Griffin accomplished so much and respect from his colleagues of both sides of […]

Protesters at Medicaid expansion rally

Capitol Perspectives: Missouri’s Medicaid history

By: - July 9, 2021

The Missouri legislature’s recent special session on Medicaid involves a dominant state issue with a long and fascinating history. It begins in 1945 when President Harry Truman called for a national health insurance program. Twenty years later, Congress added two health-care provisions of Truman’s vision into the Social Security law. It was signed by President […]


Capitol Perspectives: The price of a purge

By: - June 22, 2021

A recent suggestion by a Missouri Senator of a Senate leadership purge reminded me about the last time the Senate’s topĀ leader was ousted. Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, made his suggestion in a letter to Republican senators, reported by The Missouri Independent, complaining about how Senate leaders consulted with Democrats on his amendment to ban Medicaid […]

Members of the Missouri House of Representatives celebrate the close of the 2021 legislative session

Capitol Perspectives: A most unusual legislative session

By: - May 18, 2021

The 2021 Missouri legislative session was one of the most unusual and unpredictable of the legislative gatherings I’ve covered in some 50 years. Despite Republicans holding an overwhelming majority in both the House and Senate, Democrats scored some major victories for issues they pushed including restrictions on police choke holds, extending court-order protection orders against […]


Capitol Perspectives: A possible tax increase

By: - April 29, 2021

One of the fascinating issues for the 2021 legislative session has been the idea of a tax increase. You would think such an idea would be dead on arrival in a Republican-controlled legislature. But the issue is far more complicated. Essentially, it’s a proposal to impose a sales tax on your online purchases from merchants […]

The Missouri House Chamber

Capitol Perspectives: Kicking the can down the road

By: - April 16, 2021

The Missouri House refusal to fund voter-approved Medicaid expansion reminded me of a long Missouri legislative tactic of “kicking the can down the road” involving state funding for Medicaid. The Federal Medicaid program requires a state to provide matching funds to be eligible for the much larger chunk of federal funds. Yet for more years […]


Capitol Perspectives: How Missouri controls filibusters

By: - April 2, 2021

The debate about changing U.S. Senate filibuster rules demonstrates how different that chamber is from Missouri’s Senate. Missouri Senate rules make it more difficult to kill a bill by a filibuster. Unlike the U.S. Senate, a filibustering Missouri senator must maintain the floor, although the floor can be yielded to a colleague to grab a […]


Capitol Perspectives: Missouri’s legislative second half

By: - March 15, 2021

The Missouri legislature’s week-long break that began Monday is a good time to assess where the General Assembly may head in the second half of it’s annual session. This year taxes, school choice, voter rights and COVID-19 promise to be dominating issues. On taxes, the legislature left for spring break with eclectic decisions by the […]


Capitol Perspectives: Legislative efforts vs. the Constitution

By: - March 5, 2021

This year, an effort to provide financial help for parents to send their kids to alternative schools could run afoul of two very clear provisions of the state’s Constitution. The issue arises from a bill that started out as a simple idea to give home-schooled kids the right to participate in public school sports. But […]

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

Capitol Perspectives: Punishment of legislators

By: - February 19, 2021

Missouri history provides a fascinating contrast to the US House vote to remove Rep. Marjorie Greene, R-Georgia, from committee assignments. Unlike Greene, similar disciplinary actions in Missouri against members have avoided a partisan split and required a simple action by the leader of the legislator’s own party. Currently, Missouri has three House members who have […]


Capitol Perspectives: Legislative independence

By: - February 5, 2021

A major question for this year’s session of the Missouri General Assembly is whether Republican legislative leaders will continue a recent display of independence from their fellow Republican Gov. Mike Parson. Three times in recent months, Republican legislative leaders have shown near historic resistance to their party’s leader. In the first 2020 special session, the […]


Capitol Perspectives: An invasion of the U.S. CapitolĀ 

By: - January 18, 2021

This column is prompted by the pictures of the Capitol assault that triggered fond memories of where I had been an NPR reporter for about six months before I was recruited to start MU’s State Government Reporting in Missouri’s Capitol. While the invasion of our U.S. Capitol raises several major issues for our country, this […]