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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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.

gweggyphoto via Flickr

The American Cancer Society and other health groups are pressing for a law in New York state that would ban anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning salon. They argue the growing risk of cancer to young people is too great a threat to ignore.

Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Governor Cuomo, who won national praise and attention  for championing the passage of same sex marriage in New York, calls President Obama’s support of gay marriage a “major advancement for equal rights in this country."

The Catholic Church is weighing in on raising the state’s minimum wage, but Governor Andrew Cuomo says the chances of an increase becoming law are "dubious."

Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed his second blue ribbon panel of the week - this time to oversee infrastructure and capital projects including road and bridge repairs for the state.

Karen Dewitt

Anti-fracking groups presented Governor Andrew Cuomo with 200,000 signatures asking for a ban on the gas drilling process in New York,  and a state senator predicts  the opposition will  have an effect on the governor.

New York State Senate

Democrats and Republicans in the State Senate engaged in partisan squabbling over reform of the state’s campaign finance system.

faungg via Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo named a blue ribbon commission to look at the problems facing education in New York, instructing them to come back with an “action plan” not a “theoretical document.”

arimoore via Flickr; taken by Attorney Helen Slottje

Earth Day came and went in New York  without too much discussion of what many environmentalists believe to be the biggest issue facing the state- when and where the gas drilling process known as hydrofracking will  occur.

Governor Cuomo cast further doubt on issues like campaign finance reform and increasing the states minimum wage to become law this year, and says he’s “shifting” to a new phase of governing instead.

Patja / Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has some goals for the rest of the legislative session, including reforming the campaign finance system and possibly raising the state’s minimum wage.

-JvL- / Flickr

The State Assembly has introduced a bill to permit voluntary public financing of some election campaigns for the first time in New York State.

davelawrence8 via Flickr

New York’s Presidential primary is Tuesday, but the initial excitement over the vote vanished when Rick Santorum dropped out earlier this month. State GOP leaders say they are looking ahead to the general election instead.

The state Republican Party held it's annual dinner in New York City five days before the state's presidential primary. Only one of the remaining candidates was scheduled to speak at the dinner, and it wasn't Mitt Romney.

With just two months left in the legislative session, advocates of campaign finance reform are pressing Governor Cuomo and the legislature to adopt a New York City style public financing system for the state.

The effort to legalize mixed martial arts, also known as ultimate fighting, in New York, got a boost in the legislature Wednesday. The Senate passed a bill to legalize the sport, by a vote of 43 to 14, and the Speaker of the Assembly opened the door to possible approval in his house.

Democrats in the State Senate held a forum promoting a hike in the state’s minimum wage, while a conservative group says there’s already a government program in place that  boosts the earnings of low wage workers well above the current minimum standard.

Pro-choice advocates promoting the women’s reproductive health act say they are counting on Governor Andrew Cuomo to help the bill become law this year.

Governor Cuomo has vetoed over half a million dollars of legislative member items, saying he’s following through on a promise to ban the funds, which have been used in the past to finance lawmakers’ pet projects.

New York lawmakers are very optimistic about getting a budget done on time again this year. They say 99% of the state’s spending plan has been closed down, and they will pass bills before the end of the week.  

State lawmakers have abandoned the idea of completing a state budget one week ahead of schedule, legislators were due home in their districts late Thursday without agreement on a new spending plan.

The New York Senate and Assembly have approved new district lines, as Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders announced agreement on a number of other unrelated issues, including expansion of the state’s DNA data base, pension reform, and an amendment to allow more gambling in New York.  

State lawmakers have missed a deadline to come to an agreement on the redrawing of Congressional district lines, likely leaving a federal judge's plan as the one that will be instituted.

A State Assembly spokesman said Sunday night that an agreement could not be reached and they await the judge's revised plan, which is due out Monday.

U.S. Magistrate Roanne Mann's first draft removes Oswego County from Democrat Bill Owens's district. The county would be split, with half going to Republican Ann-Marie Buerkle and half going to fellow Republican Richard Hanna.

The Leader of the State Senate says an Assembly bill to hold state legislative primaries on June 26th is dead on arrival in his house, making it more likely that the state will hold three separate primaries this year.

A new bi partisan coalition of former elected officials,  business and civic leaders, is endorsing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for campaign finance reform.  

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he’s trying to make government more efficient by taking pre audit oversight powers away from the State’s Comptroller in his state budget proposal.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli criticized Cuomo’s proposal, saying the pre audits have saved millions of dollars by flagging potential problems in the contracts. Cuomo says he’s not taking away the comptroller’s authority but trying to speed up an inefficient procurement process. He says the Comptroller and others are simply resisting reform of what he says is an “historically dysfunctional government”.

The New York State Assembly has introduced a bill to hold all of the state’s primary elections on June 26th, to correspond with a court order requiring that congressional primary contests be held then.  So far, the State Senate wants to hold the state primaries on a separate date, in late August.

A State Senator from Western New York was back at work at the State Capitol Monday, following an incident over the weekend at a Niagara Falls Indian Casino where he and his wife were involved in a fight.

The New York State legislature’s proposed redistricted lines have been finally been released to the public. The plans for Senate districts are drawing the most fire,  for the addition of a newly created 63rd district and configurations that pit some incumbent minority party Democrats against one another.

Mayors from across the state came to the Capitol to testify to a joint legislative fiscal committee on Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget. While New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg went out of his way to offer support to the governor and for his budget plan, Mayors of upstate cities begged for a bail out. 

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