Karen DeWitt

Albany Reporter

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.

DeWitt 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 by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

DeWitt has served as a panelist for numerous political debates, including the 2014 gubernatorial debate sponsored by WNED|WBFO

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New Yorkers have only about six months left to get single use plastic bags at the supermarket before a ban goes into effect March 1 and former EPA Administrator Judith Enck says that’s good thing. Enck now runs the Beyond Plastics center at Bennington College, VT and she spoke during a recent conference there. She told WBFO Albany Correspondent Karen DeWitt that more needs to be done.


Political parties that represent the left and the right of New York’s political spectrum have joined in a common interest, and filed lawsuits against a new commission that might curtail their rights to cross endorse political candidates. And though the two parties in some cases hold diametrically opposing views on policy, they share a belief that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to get rid of the practice as part of a political vendetta. 


American Civil Liberties Union

Advocates of ending solitary confinement in New York's prisons ended the 2019 legislative session disappointed that changes made to the practice did not go further, and they say they'll be back to fight for more progress.


governor.ny.gov

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has made no secret in recent weeks of his lack of respect for the progressive wing of his party, frequently disparaging them as not being realistic or pragmatic enough. Now some New York Democrats on the left have begun to answer back.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed into law a bill that could greatly reduce greenhouse gases in New York. He was joined by former Vice President Al Gore, a longtime activist against climate change.

Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a farmworkers' rights bill into law Wednesday that will, for the first time, give the workers benefits that other employees get, including time off and overtime pay.

Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia abruptly resigned Monday, taking members of the state Board of Regents by surprise. She said she will take a new job at the end of August at an unnamed national firm.

The Empire Center / Facebook

A budget watchdog group says New York’s budgeters used a sleight of hand to make it to seem as though the state was adhering to a legal cap on the growth of health care spending, by shifting a Medicaid payment from last fiscal year to this year.

Governor's Office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the occasion of the ticker tape parade for the U.S. women’s soccer team in Manhattan to sign two bills Wednesday that will make it easier for women in New York to receive pay equal to men.

The first lawsuit has been filed against New York's new law to permit undocumented immigrants to apply for driver's licenses as Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the new law.


WAMC

A bill to allow automatic voter registration in New York failed in the final days of the legislative session, after a mistake in the language would have inadvertently allowed undocumented immigrants to vote.


New York's county clerks are meeting in Syracuse on Monday to discuss a new law that requires county departments of motor vehicles to issue driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, some county clerks who are opposed to the law are pressing forward on a federal lawsuit.


Matt Ryan / New York Now

New York's Republican Party met in a hotel outside Albany on Monday to choose its new chair. Nick Langworthy replaces Ed Cox, the son-in-law of former President Richard Nixon. The 38-year-old promises to bring new energy to the fight against the state's dominant political party, the Democrats. 


New York Now

Carl McCall - former State Comptroller, State Senator, United Nations Ambassador and chair of the State University Board of Trustees - is retiring after a 50-year career in politics and government. Before he left, though, he sat down with WBFO Albany Correspondent Karen DeWitt to talk about some highlights of his career, including a contentious primary fight for the Democratic nomination for governor against the current governor, Andrew Cuomo.   

A bill currently before Gov. Andrew Cuomo would regulate the sale of CBD products in New York State and set up new rules for the state’s growing hemp industry. Cuomo has not yet decided whether he’s going to sign it, potentially leaving what is now a legal gray area in limbo.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Israel to carry out what he said is an economic mission. However, Cuomo said the trip also has a personal focus.

The 2019 legislative session was among the most productive in several years, with the passage of bills that ranged from strengthening abortion rights, to allowing undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses If you’re a liberal democrat, there’s a lot to like. But conservative republicans are not as pleased. 


Now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers have conceded defeat in their effort to legalize adult recreational marijuana, they have agreed to further decriminalize the drug.


Mike Groll / Governor's Office

The Senate and Assembly approved anti-sexual harassment measures that, among other things, ends the standard that harassment needs to be “severe or pervasive” in order for a victim’s complaint to receive redress. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will sign the bill.

Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

The New York State legislature is approving new protections for farmworkers that supporters say are long overdue. The measures give farmworkers the right to receive overtime pay of one-and-a-half times their regular wages after they have worked more than 60 hours in a week.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-led state Legislature have agreed on the most ambitious goals in the nation for reducing carbon emissions in the next few decades. They plan to pass it Wednesday.


File Photo

In a flurry of activity before the end of the state legislature session, New York's Senate voted "yes" for the first step to add an Equal Rights Amendment to the state’s constitution. The measure adds protections for women and LGBTQ New Yorkers, while preventing discrimination for ethnic origin.

The New York State Senate voted 33-29 to allow undocumented immigrants to receive standard driver’s licenses. Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised some last-minute objections, saying he fears some data the state Department of Motor Vehicles collects on the immigrants might be accessed by the federal government and immigration officials. However, late in the evening, the governor signed the bill.

In what supporters called a "watershed moment," the New York Legislature on Friday approved and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed what Democratic lawmakers and tenant groups say are the strongest tenant protections in a generation.

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton / AP/PBS NewsHour Edit | Remove

The state Assembly narrowly approved a measure to remove the religious exemption for vaccinations in the wake of a severe measles outbreak that began in communities with a high percentage of unvaccinated children in New York and is steadily spreading to other states.


Following a spirited debate, the New York State Assembly approved a bill to allow undocumented immigrants to obtain driver's licenses. It’s not a done deal though, and it faces resistance in the State Senate.


Karen DeWitt

The New York State Senate passed a bill Tuesday to legalize paid gestational surrogacy for couples who are unable to have their own children. But it faces an uncertain future in the Assembly, and opponents range from feminist icon Gloria Steinem to the Catholic Church.


File photo

New York state lawmakers had the day off Monday before they return to the Capitol on Tuesday to tackle a number of end-of-session issues, including renewing rent control laws and possibly legalizing marijuana for adults. A poll finds support among New Yorkers for many of the issues on the table.


Karen DeWitt / WXXI News

State senators and Assembly members are pushing for action to combat climate change before the legislative session ends later this month. However, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the plan is too ambitious and unrealistic.

Karen Dewitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

Hundreds of tenants’ rights protesters at the New York State Capitol on Tuesday blocked the entrances to the Senate and Assembly chambers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, as they demanded the 2019 session not end until there is reform of the rent laws.

The groups achieved some results: Senate Democrats announced they have agreed to the measures pushed by the groups.

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