Karen DeWitt

Capitol Bureau Correspondent, Albany

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now.  She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers. 

Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.

She is a past recipient of the prestigious Walter T. Brown Memorial award for excellence in journalism, from the Legislative Correspondents Association, and was named Media Person of the Year for 2009 by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

Karen is a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo.

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Nixon for Governor

Cynthia Nixon, an actress best known for her work on "Sex in the City" and a public education advocate, announced her campaign for governor of New York Monday. She wants to run in a Democratic primary against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Nixon made her announcement in a video that shows her with her wife and children in her home, and on the streets of New York, taking her child to school and riding the subway.

“New York is my home,” Nixon said in the video, saying she grew up with her mom, a single mother, in a fifth floor walkup.

Cynthia for New York

Actress and public education advocate Cynthia Nixon announced her campaign for governor of New York in a video today. She’ll be in a Democratic primary against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Nixon made her announcement in a video that shows her with her wife and children in her home, and on the streets of New York, taking her child to school and riding the subway.

“New York is my home,” Nixon said in the video, saying she grew up with her mom, a single mother, in a fifth floor walkup.

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

In the days since actor and progressive activist Cynthia Nixon indicated she might want to run against Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary for governor, Cuomo has made a number of public appearances and taken several steps to shore up his political base.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse delivered an emotional appeal to state senators Wednesday after they learned that the Senate did not put the Child Victims Act into their budget plan. The measure would offer more opportunities for survivors to gain justice in the court system.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

A federal jury found Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco guilty on three counts of bribery and conspiracy to commit honest service fraud in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday.

Percoco, who has been described as being like a “brother” to the governor, was found guilty of participating in two bribery schemes, where he netted nearly $300,000.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco has been found guilty on three counts of bribery and conspiracy to commit honest service fraud by a federal jury in Manhattan today.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to impose a tax on manufacturers of prescription opioids to help pay for state programs that assist people who are addicted to them. But some say it will be patients who ultimately will have to pay the price.

Cuomo laid out the opioid tax proposal in his state budget address nearly two months ago, saying it’s only fair that the makers of the pain pills shoulder some of the financial burden of treating people who became addicted to the medicines.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

As a jury continues to deliberate in the bribery trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Cuomo has been keeping his focus on other matters, including appearing with former Vice President Al Gore to talk about energy and the environment.

-JvL- / Flickr

Things got heated on the New York State Senate floor this week over a debate on bills that majority party Republicans say will improve school safety. Meanwhile, the state Assembly on Tuesday passed its own set of gun control bills.

New York already has some of the strictest gun control measures in the nation, known as the SAFE Act. But since the shootings in Parkland, Florida, lawmakers from both major parties say there’s more to do to prevent school shootings.

New York State Senate

During a debate in the New York state Senate on enhanced school safety measures Monday, Democrats asked the Republican majority to support a bill to ban teachers from having guns in schools.

Rich Mitchell / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former closest aide, Joe Percoco, is waiting to find out whether he’ll be convicted of bribery and other charges as a jury continues to deliberate in federal court.

Government reform groups say regardless of the verdict, the trial highlighted some questionable but legal practices in New York that they say taint the governor’s reputation and need to be fixed. 

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Victims of childhood sexual abuse are hoping that the #MeToo movement will help them enact the Child Victims Act in New York. The measure extends the statute of criminal and civil limitations for victims beyond the current age of 23 to age 50 and adds a one-year look back window to file civil suits.

One man who says he is a former victim, and is now an advocate, said this is the year for the act’s passage.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Democrats in the state Senate tried to force a vote on gun control legislation Wednesday, to put Republicans on the spot over some GOP senators’ resistance to the bills.

stgermh / Flickr

Advocates who want the Child Victims Act passed in New York are stepping up pressure on Republicans in the state Senate. Some GOP senators are the final holdouts on the bill that would extend the statute of limitations and open up a one-year window for victims to file civil lawsuits.

Ken Hawkins / Flickr

The head of the state’s largest teachers union said arming teachers won’t make schools safer, but he said schools should have more protection. 

Andy Pallotta, president of New York State United Teachers, said he’s heard from teachers since the Feb. 14 mass shooting at a Florida high school, and many have expressed alarm about the idea of arming teachers.

“And to put an additional burden on them,” Pallotta said. “I don’t think our teachers would want this.”

Davis Staedtler / Flickr

A case that was heard Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court and will be decided later this year could have a big impact on public worker unions in New York.

The case, known as Janus v. AFSCME, was brought by Mark Janus, a public employee in Illinois who is challenging his state’s policy of requiring that he pay union dues to the Illinois branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees even though he does not want to be a member.

Mike Saechang / Flickr

Democrats in the New York state Senate say they will push harder for gun control bills in the wake of the Florida shooting that left 17 dead and are even considering proposing the measures as hostile amendments.

Before they left for the Presidents week break, Senate Democrats pushed for more measures to strengthen gun control in New York. The state already has one of the strongest gun laws in the nation. Known as the SAFE Act, it was passed shortly after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut at the request of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Some Democratic lawmakers in the New York State Legislature are pushing for a measure that would make anonymous political ads on Facebook and other social media illegal. They say the ads are being abused to falsely represent their positions on issues.

Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat, said there’s been a lot of publicity about Russian operatives using Facebook and other social media to influence the 2016 presidential race. But he said it’s also happening in New York races, and it needs to stop.

“It’s undermining our democracy,” Kaminsky said.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is putting $7 million into his 30-day budget amendments to fund poll sites for early voting in New York by the 2020 presidential race.

The funds would be used to set up at least one polling site in every county 12 days before Election Day so that voters can have several weekdays and two full weekends before elections to cast their ballot early.

Cuomo’s budget director, Robert Mujica, made the announcement on Monday.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will detail his proposals to help New Yorkers affected by changes to the federal tax law. But Republicans who rule the state Senate are cool to the ideas, including one that creates a payroll tax instead of a state income tax.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget director said 30-day amendments to the governor’s spending plan, which is due out later this week, will include an overhaul of the state’s tax code. It will include plans to ease the effects of the loss of the state and local tax deductions in the new federal tax overhaul.

Robert Mujica said the governor will propose a payroll tax credit program that businesses could use instead of the state and local income tax system.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

The flu epidemic is hitting the corruption trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, with proceedings delayed for a day and a half because a key defense attorney has come down with the virus.

The judge and the prosecution and defense attorneys in the bribery case of Percoco and three upstate businessmen met Monday to discuss when the trial can resume.

Part of the proceedings focused on telephone calls to attorney Daniel Gitner, who was sick at home with the flu, to inquire what medications he is taking and whether he is running a fever.   

Rich Mitchell / Flickr

Republicans are seeking political advantage in the federal corruption trial of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former closest aide.

One of the governor’s opponents is pressuring Cuomo to answer some of the revelations in the trial about how state business was conducted, and whether a pay-to-play “atmosphere” was created.

NYS Assembly

In the midst of a national debate on immigration, the New York State Assembly this week passed a bill to give children of undocumented immigrants access to financial aid for college.

The measure, which is separate from federal legislation and would apply only to New York state, would allow undocumented students to be eligible for funds from the state’s Tuition Assistance Program if they attended high school in New York state or received a general equivalency diploma and have applied to a college or university within the state.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News (file photo)

Testimony at the trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, has highlighted some practices inside the governor’s office that government reform groups say is at the very least questionable, and possibly even illegal.

Percoco, often described as Cuomo’s right-hand man and a “brother,” is accused of engaging in two separate bribery schemes with companies doing business with the state.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

A Republican candidate for governor is calling for hearings on controversial tourism signs that the Cuomo administration set up on the New York State Thruway and other highways. The federal government said the signs are illegal and will withhold federal funds if they are not removed.

John DeFrancisco, a GOP candidate for governor and the deputy Senate leader, said he wants the state Legislature to hold hearings into the 514 tourism signs posted along numerous highways in the state.

Rich Mitchell / Flickr

The bribery trial of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, begins its third week in federal court Monday. Cuomo has not commented on the proceedings and has instead been busy focusing on other topics.

In the first two weeks of the trial, questions have been raised about Percoco’s use of his state offices while he was off the government payroll for most of 2014 and managing Cuomo’s reelection campaign.  

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A third Republican candidate has announced his intention to run for governor against Democrat Andrew Cuomo. Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco said he thinks it’s time for a change.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The head of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs said he doesn’t think federal corruption trials now taking place will have any effect on the projects.

Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, is on trial in federal district court in Manhattan, charged with engineering two bribery schemes. One of the companies accused of participating in the crimes received funding through the state’s economic development programs. The two top leaders of COR Development are co-defendants in the trial.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the governors of New Jersey and Connecticut said they intend to soon file a multi-state lawsuit against the federal tax overhaul law over the partial loss of the deduction of state and local taxes.