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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9:42am

Mon July 2, 2012
Education

Many school districts to miss teacher evaluation deadline

An important deadline in the state’s ongoing teacher evaluation process occurred Sunday, but most schools reported they would miss it.  

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10:19am

Fri June 29, 2012
Politics and Government

The Affordable Care Act: Reaction from New York politicians and healthcare professionals

Health care advocates celebrate with cake at a rally at the state Capitol.
Karen Dewitt NYS Public Radio

New York’s politicians and major health care providers are largely applauding the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold President Barack Obama’s health care law.  Meanwhile, an Albany Law School expert says Chief Justice John Roberts may have been concerned about his legacy, and that was a factor in his decision.

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9:36am

Thu June 28, 2012
Politics and Government

End of session: Mixed results for Governor Cuomo

The just concluded 2012 legislative session brought mixed results for Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is in his second year as governor.  While Cuomo and lawmakers could claim credit for a calm and functional end to the session,  the governor had to drop some of his original goals  in order for that to happen.

Cuomo’s second legislative session was far less dramatic than his first legislative session in 2011, when he convinced the legislature to authorize same sex marriage, instate a two percent property tax cap, and close a massive $10 billion budget deficit.

In his second session, the governor’s record of achieving his stated goals was not as complete.

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9:45am

Tue June 26, 2012

5:29pm

Fri June 22, 2012
Education

State legislature approves Cuomo's teacher evaluation plan

Thomas Favre-Bulle via Flickr

Cuomo’s proposal to make teacher evaluations public will become law, now that the Senate and Assembly passed the measure on the final day of the legislative session.

Senate Republicans, after a closed door meeting, agreed to take up Gov. Cuomo’s bill to make all evaluations public, without names attached.

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9:55am

Fri June 22, 2012
Politics and Government

Albany legislative session comes to an end

The state legislature ended their 2012 session Thursday evening as lawmakers had promised, but they did not manage to finish everything on their list before they left.

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9:42am

Thu June 21, 2012
Politics and Government

Some issues left hanging as session ends

The legislative session that’s concluding in Albany seems to be more about what’s not getting done than what is getting accomplished. Agreements were not reached on several key issues.

Governor Andrew Cuomo at this time last year was intensely lobbying lawmakers to pass a bill to legalize gay marriage. This year, he has taken a more hands-off approach to the end of the current legislative session.

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10:13am

Wed June 20, 2012
Politics and Government

End of session: No action on bill to decriminalize marijuana

A bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana appears dead for the legislative session, now that Republicans in the Senate say they won’t be acting on the bill.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says it’s “highly unlikely” that his bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana will be taken up by the Senate before the legislative session ends on Thursday, and Senate Leader Dean Skelos confirms that.

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9:55am

Wed June 20, 2012
Politics and Government

Cuomo offers teacher evaluation bill with no compromises

James F Clay Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo is telling the legislature to "take it or leave it" over a new bill he’s released outlining how to make teacher evaluations public.

Cuomo says he introduced  legislation on the publication of teacher evaluations just before his own self-imposed deadline of midnight Monday in order to clarify his position on the issue.  He says it’s up to the Assembly and Senate whether they want to pass it, exactly as is, or not.

“That’s the bill, the bill is not going to change,” said Cuomo. “They act on it or they don’t. But there’s not going to be changes and discussions at this time.”

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9:35am

Tue June 19, 2012
Education

No agreement in Albany on teacher evaluations, so far

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he no longer thinks settling the issue of making teacher evaluations public is “urgent,” and will allow the legislature to leave later this week without an agreement on the matter.

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10:00am

Mon June 18, 2012
Health

Tanning limited for teens in New York state

Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders have agreed to limit the use of tanning beds by teenagers.

The bill will ban children 16 years and under from going to tanning salons. Seventeen-year-olds will still be allowed to use tanning beds with written permission from their parents.

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9:20am

Fri June 15, 2012
Regional Coverage

Pro, anti fracking advocates clash in Albany

Supporters and opponents of a plan to allow limited hydrofracking in New York’s Southern Tier region confronted each other at the state Capitol .

For months, the Cuomo administration has been signaling that it might permit the gas drilling process known as hydrofracking in a few areas in the Marcellus Shale region where the majority of people in communities want the gas drilling process to begin.

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10:19am

Thu June 14, 2012
Politics and Government

State Senate forum questions status of big business advocacy group

A hearing by New York Senate Democrats explored the influence of the controversial lobby group known as ALEC in New York State. Those who testified say more light needs to shine on the secretive group and even urged the state ethics commission to start an investigation.

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9:25am

Tue June 12, 2012
Regional Coverage

Eight session days left, many issues unresolved

New York state lawmakers plan on leaving Albany for the summer on June 21, but they continue to be gridlocked on the issues of raising the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 an hour, and offering tax breaks to small businesses as an incentive to create more jobs.

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10:18am

Fri June 8, 2012
Regional Coverage

Committee to Save New York controversy overshadows ethics hearing

Sue Lerner of Common Cause testifies at JCOPE hearing as Chairwoman Janet DiFiore listens
Karen DeWitt/WRVO

A lobbying group closely associated with Governor Andrew Cuomo was the elephant in the room during a hearing by the state ethics commission on new rules for donor disclosure.

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10:15am

Thu June 7, 2012
Regional Coverage

Ethics committee holds hearing Thursday amid questions about lobby group

A lobbying group closely allied with the policies of Governor Andrew Cuomo has been in the news a lot in the past couple of days, in articles raising questions about  multi-million dollar donations to the group known as the Committee to Save New York,  and policies later advocated by the governor.

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7:12am

Wed June 6, 2012
Politics and Government

Cuomo puts gambling and convention center agreement on hold

Now that Governor Andrew Cuomo has confirmed that a deal with a major gambling company to build a convention center in Queens has fallen through, Cuomo says he’s opening up the bids to more companies.

The governor’s change  of plans come amid reports that the gambling company Genting contributed over two million dollars to a lobbying group closely associated with the governor.

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10:02am

Tue June 5, 2012
Politics and Government

Cuomo moves to further decriminalize marijuana

Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana found during police searches, to  fix what he  says is a “blatant inconsistency” in New York City’s controversial stop and frisk policy.

Governor Cuomo says New York City’s stop and frisk police procedure has unfairly led to the arrest of thousands of mainly young black and Hispanic men who were caught with possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The arrests often lead to criminal records with lifelong consequences that can prevent the young person from getting college aid, or living in public housing.

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2:02pm

Mon June 4, 2012
Politics and Government

Minimum wage supporters won't quit

Supporters of raising New York’s minimum wage have not given up hope of getting a bill passed this session.

With just three weeks left in the legislative session, demonstrations and efforts to put the bill on the Senate floor continue.

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10:15am

Fri June 1, 2012
Politics and Government

Ethics panel meets among controversy

The head of the state ethics commission, Janet DiFiore, says she has “done nothing wrong,” after allegations she used her influence as Westchester County DA to obtain welfare benefits for her maid.

DiFiore spoke after a lengthy closed door session of the ethics commission.

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9:29am

Thu May 31, 2012
Regional Coverage

New York to bring back iconic tourism ad campaign

Governor Andrew Cuomo is attempting to revive New York’s iconic "I Love New York" tourism promotion campaign with some new ads.

The governor says the state not been aggressive enough in its promotions in recent years.

The "I Love New York" campaign, with its distinctive logo featuring a red heart, was a major advertising and promotional innovation in the 1970s, when it was created.  In fact, says Governor Cuomo and his top economic development aids, it was too successful, and countless other groups and causes have adapted the now iconic image.

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10:00am

Fri May 25, 2012
Politics and Government

Cuomo puts stamp on State Democratic Party

Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a rousing speech at a meeting of the State Democratic Party, but stopped short of endorsing a democratic take over of the State Senate.

At the meeting, the new co-chairs of the party, chosen by Cuomo, were introduced.

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11:26am

Thu May 24, 2012
Minimum Wage

Fight over minimum wage continues

For weeks, there’s been a stalemate in Albany over the issue of raising the state’s minimum wage, with Assembly Democrats backing the idea, Senate Republicans opposing it, and Governor Andrew Cuomo remaining neutral in the middle.

Cuomo says he generally backs the measure, but feels that the GOP can’t be convinced.   

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9:40am

Wed May 23, 2012
Regional Coverage

Cuomo takes the reigns of NYRA

Governor Andrew Cuomo has taken the reigns of the troubled New York Racing Association Board, saying he needs to “restore the public trust” in a rapidly changing gaming industry.  

Cuomo convinced members of the independent board that oversees horse racing in New York to agree to a restructuring that will give the governor the majority of appointees on a new, slimmed down board.

The move comes after a series of controversies at the troubled New York Racing Association, which led to the recent firing of its president and top legal counsel over allegations that NYRA knowingly withheld millions of dollars owed to bettors.

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8:14am

Fri May 18, 2012
Food Stamp Fingerprinting

Cuomo rescinds food stamp fingerprint requirement

Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking by phone to a gathering of advocates for the poor, says he’s rescinded a 14-year-old state regulation that required food stamp recipients be subject to fingerprinting before receiving benefits.  

“Poverty and hunger are not crimes,” said Cuomo. “So we shouldn’t treat the poor or the hungry as criminals.”

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9:15am

Thu May 17, 2012
School Budget Vote Results

Teachers, school boards see disturbing trends in school vote outcome

Tara R. via Flickr

This year's statewide school budget vote was the first to take place after Governor Andrew Cuomo convinced the legislature to adopt the property tax cap.

The governor says the tax cap imposed “fiscal discipline.”

He says he’s  pleased  that few school districts attempted to override the cap, that most districts kept tax increases to a minimum and that so many budgets were approved by voters.

He says taxpayers, as well as state government, are tapped out.

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11:00am

Wed May 16, 2012
Politics and Government

Lawmakers agree to change September 11th primary date

The state’s September primary is going to be delayed by two days, now that the legislature has agreed to move the date from Tuesday, September 11 to Thursday, September 13.

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10:35am

Wed May 16, 2012
Politics and Government

Assembly, Senate leaders disagree over moral high ground on minimum wage bill

Democrats in the State Assembly approved a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage.

The Republican leader of the State Senate offered a spirited defense of his position opposing the measure, but did not rule the issue out altogether.

Democrats in the Assembly approved a bill to increase the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 an hour.  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has championed the measure, calls it a “moral imperative”.

“It is, I keep saying it, a moral issue,” said Silver.

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12:25pm

Tue May 15, 2012

6:00am

Tue May 15, 2012
Politics and Government

Despite positive views of lawmakers, New Yorkers don't want to see a pay raise

A new Siena College poll finds that New Yorkers are starting to feel more positive about the state legislature- but they still don’t want to see Senators and Assembly members receive a pay raise.

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