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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In the wake of increased gun violence in New York and two mass shootings in the nation in the last few weeks, a State Senator is proposing stricter gun laws that he says could give New York the toughest gun laws in the country.

Governor Andrew Cuomo defended his administration against criticisms that he has not been transparent enough, saying he’s trying to do more.

Aides to Governor Andrew Cuomo have announced new crackdowns on sex offenders that will require some convicts on parole to renew their photos every 90 days if their appearance has changed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to defend a decision by a state ethics board to keep secret the names of donors to a lobbying group that is a key ally of the governor. 

A report from the state comptroller finds local governments in New York are struggling financially. Around 10 percent are running deficits or suffering from cash flow problems, and there is no end in sight.

A New York state ethics board has ruled that lobby groups, including one closely allied with Governor Andrew Cuomo, will not have to retroactively disclose their donors. The proposed new regulations will require that in the future, contributions of over $5000 for the Committee to Save New York and other groups will have to be made public.
 

Governor Andrew Cuomo began his term in office promising that he would run one of the most transparent and open governments in New York state history. But, eighteen months into his term, news stories relating to Cuomo's perceived lack of transparency in government have proliferated.

A recent poll offers some hope to Senate Democrats who are trying retake the Senate after losing to Republicans two years ago, but the GOP says they are far from worried.
 

A business group is asking the New York State Thruway Authority to delay a proposed 45 percent increase in truck tolls and conduct an audit of the authority’s finances instead.

Most New Yorkers agree with the recent Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama’s health care reform, but most think the new law, when fully implemented, will cause health care costs to rise.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is running television ads proclaiming New York’s business friendliness, but a recent set of rankings finds the state dead last in that category. The truth likely lies somewhere in between.

The news that the U.S. Olympic teams uniforms will be made in China has stirred up New York’s politicians and business leaders.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will not necessarily endorse Democrats for election to the closely divided New York state Senate, even though he’s a Democrat. He says he’ll consider candidates on a case by case basis. That stance gives the politically savvy governor a number of options.

Jacob Enos / Flickr

A coalition of business groups is opposing a proposed 50 percent toll hike for trucks on the New York State Thruway, saying it will have a drastic impact on manufacturing, farming, and many other industries.    

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he is starting a new effort to push campaign finance reform in New York’s elections.

Governor Andrew Cuomo offered some support to a plan to permit hydrofracking in New York in communities that welcome the gas drilling process.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Commission on Education Reform got an earful at a public hearing held at the state Capitol today, as speaker after speaker complained about a statewide school system that they say is in disarray.

Speakers voiced a litany of complaints to the commission, ranging from over-testing of students, excessive teacher bashing, and school districts drowning in debt.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an anti-cyber bullying bill into law Monday. It requires schools to be more vigilant about cyber bullying of students, and to take steps to prevent it.

According to an analysis by the New York Public Interest Research Group, the 2012 session resulted in 571 pieces of legislation approved by both houses of the New York state legislature.  

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

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.

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.

There are a number of primary elections today for federal posts, including for Congress and the U.S. Senate, but turnout is expected to be very low.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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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