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Capitol Perspectives: Press Facilities in the Statehouse

CapitolPerspectives_WPOne of the issues that has generated discussion within the press corps this legislative session is a bill to take away the offices and parking spaces at Missouri’s Capitol that are assigned to reporters who cover state government.

The bill sponsor told a committee he wanted to get more parking around the statehouse for people with disabilities. Just before this year’s session began, House staff proposed taking over part of

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Capitol Perspectives: Legislative ‘Joke’ Bills

by Phill Brooks

The recent bill filed to make it a felony crime for a legislator to propose a firearms restriction measure has given me a trip down memory lane about seemingly frivolous bills. It’s reminded me of the thousands of bills I’ve seen your legislators file with no apparent intention or hope to make them into law. Every year there seems to be a wave of futility, lost causes,

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Capitol Perspectives: The History of Booze in MO’s Legislature

The recent story about a Missouri House member complaining that someone was stealing liquor from his legislative office reminded me of the old days when liquor played a much greater role in Missouri’s statehouse.

Back decades ago, some legislative offices seemed more like public bars than places for crafting laws. A legislator from that era would not have complained about the loss of a liquor bottle, because it quickly would

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Capitol Perspectives: Rural Dominance in MO’s Legislature

CapitolPerspectives_WPOne of the more fascinating legislative patterns I’ve watched over the decades has been the dominance of rural Missouri in the state’s General Assembly — particularly in the Senate.

Back four decades ago, rural legislators firmly were in control. They were a pretty conservative lot, more interested in limiting government than expanding it.

Highways were the one exception. An adequate highway system in rural Missouri was almost sacred. Those rural

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Capitol Perspectives: Second Term Governors

by Phill Brooks

Listening to Gov. Jay Nixon’s State of the State address, I was reminded of a conversation I had with Gov. Mel Carnahan shortly after he began his second term as governor.

There have been just five two-term governors in Missouri history. Prior to the election of Warren Hearnes in 1968, Missouri’s Constitution limited governors to a single term — effectively making them lame duck the day they

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Capitol Perspectives: The Aircraft of Missouri’s Governors

by Phill Brooks

What is it about planes and travel that make Missouri governors willing to risk so much to get out of the governor’s office?

Our state has a long history of governors getting themselves in trouble because of planes and travel — even for the travel expenses of their food. The latest controversy arose after lawmakers discovered the state administration had spent $5.6 million to purchase a new,

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Capitol Perspectives: The Quitters

by Phill Brooks

Every January after a general election, I’m fascinated by those who will be leaving office after years, sometimes decades, of service. Some finish with a flurry of work. Some just fade away. And a few just give up and effectively quit before their terms expire.

The only Missouri state official leaving office this January, Robin Carnahan, faded away in her final days as secretary of state. On

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Capitol Perspectives: Memorable Inaugurations

by Phill Brooks

If you wander by Missouri’s Capitol in December and notice workmen mowing the dormant lawn, you know the state is preparing for its inauguration.

It’s among the steps in weeks of work for the day-long ceremony. Despite all the preparation, there usually is not much of major public-policy significance that will happen — except, of course, for the peaceful transfer of power.

While the governor’s inaugural address

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Capitol Perspectives: How governors win over the legislature

As Missouri’s governor enters the holiday season before his second term, Jay Nixon might want to take a look at how past governors have won legislative support for major policy initiatives like his proposal for a major expansion of Medicaid.

So far, Missouri’s governor has suffered some major defeats for his top legislative policy initiatives.

Nixon’s first major policy proposal was to let electric utilities charge customers for some of

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