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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Molinaro for Governor / Facebook

Another candidate has announced he will challenge Andrew Cuomo for governor. This time, it’s Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican who offered a political indictment of Cuomo’s practices and temperament in office.

New York State Senate

State lawmakers started passing budget bills late Thursday night into Friday morning, even though some major issues related to the spending plan are still not resolved. They need to finish by mid-day Friday so legislators and staff can get home for the Passover and Easter holidays.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Budget talks are stalled shortly before a self-imposed deadline of March 30 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature. Meanwhile, groups left out of the deal expressed their dismay.

Calling themselves the “coalition of the shafted,” the groups – including advocates for access to birth control, bail reform and better voter access – stood on the “Million Dollar Staircase” to criticize the direction of the budget talks.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

Talks on the state budget were stalled just days before the April 1 deadline, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers continued negotiations. Groups pressing for additional issues that are in the governor’s budget plan still have not given up hope.

@cynthianixon / Twitter

Cynthia Nixon, Democratic candidate for governor, came to Albany to critique the school funding record of her potential primary opponent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The funding is now being discussed in the state budget. As in all of her comments since she’s announced her candidacy, Nixon didn’t pull any punches.

formulanone / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are negotiating a new anti-sexual harassment policy for state and local government officials as part of the state budget. But several victims of sexual abuse and harassment in the Legislature have come forward with a letter asking that the issue be taken out of the budget.

The letter is signed by sexual harassment victims of former Assembly members Vito Lopez and Micah Kellner, as well as a woman who accuses Senate Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein of forcibly kissing her, something Klein denies.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

It’s just over a week until the state budget is due, and there’s no resolution on an array of proposed new taxes and spending proposals, as well as several unrelated items that are tied to the budget.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his first public comments since challenger Cynthia Nixon announced her candidacy, dismissed two days of attacks as the “political silly season.”

Nixon has laid out a case against Cuomo, claiming his administration is corrupt and he is beholden to corporate campaign donors and condones Republican control of the State Senate.

Cuomo was asked about the charges during a storm briefing in New York City.

cynthianixonfornewyork.com

Candidate for Governor of New York Cynthia Nixon delivered a blistering speech against Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday, who she hopes to challenge in a Democratic primary.  She was immediately criticized by a Cuomo ally, who questioned Nixon’s qualifications in a controversial remark. 

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston / Flickr

New York’s Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan met privately with Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday over a proposed bill to give victims of childhood sexual abuse more access to the courts. The Cardinal remains opposed to a key provision of the measure. 

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.

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