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Capitol Perspectives: The Need for Audacity

by Phill Brooks

Missouri’s legislature left for its spring break with little progress on some of the state’s biggest issues — Ferguson, highway budget shortfalls and school-funding equity. While the Republican-dominated legislature has made substantial progress on GOP agenda items such as restricting welfare, right to work and limiting liability lawsuit awards, the more difficult issues have languished.

Neither chamber has passed anything to address a funding shortfall for Missouri

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Governing By Crisis Isn’t Governing At All

by Lee H. Hamilton

After Congress came a hair’s breadth from shutting down the Department of Homeland Security a few weeks ago, members of the leadership tried to reassure the American people. “We’re certainly not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Congress, he said, would not lurch from crisis to crisis.

I wish

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Sam Graves Introduces Bill Reshaping the Army Corps’ Priorities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Sam Graves (MO-06) today introduced legislation designed to improve the management of the Missouri River. This bill would remove “fish and wildlife” from the list of authorized purposes for which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can undertake a river management project. Currently, the Corps’ Master Manual includes eight authorized purposes. By removing “fish and wildlife,” the Corps can focus more closely on projects related

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Capitol Perspectives: Improving the Missouri Legislature

by Phill Brooks

Legislative plans to use part of a $75 million bond issue to expand their statehouse space has led me to think about less expensive ways to improve the legislative process. What follows are ideas I’ve heard floating around the Capitol for decades along with a couple of my own.

Reconsider Term Limits: The life-time limit on how long a lawmaker can serve has had a devastating impact

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Capitol Perspectives: About Schweich’s Eulogy

by Phill Brooks

John Danforth’s eulogy for Missouri’s late auditor Tom Schweich reminded me of the inspiration I gained from Danforth as a young reporter covering him as state attorney general.

Danforth once was called the father of the modern Missouri Republican Party. He later became a leading critic of the current political process.

As an Episcopalian minister, ethics is at the core of John Danforth. I learned that from

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Learning to Be a Citizen

by Lee H. Hamilton

The question usually comes toward the end of a public meeting. Some knotty problem is being discussed, and someone in the audience will raise his or her hand and ask, “Okay, so what can I do about it?”

I love that question. Not because I’ve ever answered it to my satisfaction, but because it bespeaks such a constructive outlook. Democracy is no spectator sport and citizens

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Capitol Perspectives: Thinking on Tom Schweich

by Phill Brooks

News that Missouri State Auditor Tom Schweich died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot has caused me to wonder about the tough and unforgiving environment that I cover. I worry that what I enjoy covering were factors in his death.

This is a man I will remember fondly. I will miss our conversations.

He was eager to talk with reporters about government issues. He regularly wandered the statehouse

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Two Shadow Representative Eggleston

Two members from the Gallatin R-5 FBLA chapter journeyed to Jefferson City and visited with State Rep. J. Eggleston during Career and Technical Student Organizations Legislative Day activities. Maria Pizzo and Aubrey Nelson, shown here with Rep. Eggleston, were among club members from throughout the state who visited and shadowed legislators. Becca Wiglesworth from Maysville was also a participant. [submitted photo]

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Capitol Perspectives: A Salary Squabble in the Senate Family

by Phill Brooks

A drama unfolded in Missouri’s Senate the likes of which have not been seen in more than four decades. It involved a fight over pay raises for legislators and other elected state officials.

The pay hikes, recommended by the Compensation Commission, automatically take effect unless rejected by a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate. The House overwhelmingly had voted down the raises. But when the issue

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