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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Many of New York’s cities begin their new fiscal year July 1, and they are struggling to balance their budgets after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent protests in some cities are straining budgets even further. Meanwhile, there’s a growing movement in the state legislature to raise taxes on the wealthy to help balance the state’s budget and to help cities.

 

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Western New York Sen. Robert Ortt is the New York State Senate's new minority leader.

 

Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

In his final daily coronavirus briefing Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s grateful that the virus is at an all-time low in New York, but he worries about rising infection rates elsewhere in the United States. 


Office of the Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ends over three months of continuous daily coronavirus briefings Friday. The briefings became a cultural phenomenon and made the governor nationally famous, as New Yorkers and many across America staying home to try to stop the spread of the virus tuned in to what became a daily ritual.


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Gov. Andrew Cuomo says this Friday, June 19, known as Juneteenth in honor of the end of slavery in the U.S., will be a holiday for state workers. And he says he will work to make it a statewide holiday for 2021.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The chairs of the state legislative health committees are proposing a bill that would help protect the privacy of New Yorkers who give personal information to coronavirus contact tracers. They say without the protections, the contact tracing system -- aimed at curbing the virus and avoiding future shutdowns -- won’t work.


Catholic Health

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says visitors will now be allowed for patients at hospitals and residents of group homes for the developmentally disabled. But nursing home visits remain off limits, for now.


Kevin P. Coughlin / /Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed several police reform measures into law Friday, while saying he’ll withhold state funding from local police departments that do not submit proof that they’ve worked with their communities to reconfigure their forces. 

 


 

Kyle S. Mackie / WBFO News

There is a growing movement to defund the police, after the death of George Floyd and incidences of police brutality in the nationwide protests that came in the aftermath. New York leaders say they would rather restructure the forces than cut their budgets.


The New York State legislature Wednesday wrapped up passage of a package of bills on police reform, as the Senate Leader delivered a very personal speech on how systemic racism has affected her life.

 

 


WBFO file photo

The New York Assembly and Senate has approved the repeal of a measure that’s been used to shield police disciplinary records from the public, although opponents, including police unions and some Republican Senators, says it unfairly singles out officers for scrutiny that other public servants don’t face.

 

 


 

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

The New York State Legislature met in session at the state capital Monday to begin work on a package of bills aimed at reforming the police. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has promised to sign them. If approved, New York would be the first state to act on police reforms since the death of George Floyd, an African American man in Minneapolis during an incident with police two weeks ago.


Governor Andrew Cuomo says the video footage of an elderly white man in Buffalo knocked down by police and left to bleed on the sidewalk made him “sick to his stomach”, and he called for an investigation into criminal charges for the offices involved by the Erie County District Attorney. The governor’s comments come as protests continue in cities around the state with no signs of abating, and the legislature planned to meet Monday to discuss bills dealing with police brutality.

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Saturday is the deadline for voters in the state’s school board and school budget elections to get their ballots in the mail.


Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is urging the thousands of New Yorkers who are participating in social justice protests to get tested for the coronavirus to help prevent another potential outbreak. 


Office of the Governor

There were fewer incidences of looting of stores and other businesses around the state on Tuesday night, after three nights that left many stores damaged and empty of merchandise.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in his daily briefing Wednesday, also read from the Bible to make a point about President Donald Trump's controversial photo opportunity on Monday.


Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s outraged and disappointed over the continued looting of several stores that took place overnight in New York City, and he said that city’s mayor and police department did not do their jobs.


Thomas O'Neil-White / WBFO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the mass protests in New York City and in upstate cities over the past few nights have been "counterproductive" to the cause of racial justice and may even reignite the spread of the coronavirus.


Thomas O'Neil-White / WBFO News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he has asked the state’s Attorney General to look into what he called “disturbing” videos of police conduct during weekend protests and unrest in New York’s cities, including one of two NYPD police cruisers driving into a crowd of people. He said he is also sending State Police to assist upstate cities where demonstrations occurred and has the state’s National Guard on standby.

WAMC file photo

Many eligible voters for New York’s June 23 primary are receiving applications for absentee ballots in the mail, as the state tries to make it easier for people to avoid physically going to the polls during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, voting rights advocates say more needs to be done.


Darren McGee / Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order that allows businesses to deny entry to customers who aren’t wearing a mask, saying it’s intended to improve public health and reduce fights.

 

 


New York state lawmakers returned to session this week with plans to vote on bills aimed at helping New Yorkers cope with all of the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 


Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo brought his plea for more federal relief from the COVID-19 crisis to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. 

 

Darren McGee / Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

A new poll finds most New Yorkers are comfortable with the pace of the reopening of the economy, even though many are taking a financial hit due to the shutdown.

 


Darren McGee / Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he believes New York has finally “turned the page” on the COVID-19 pandemic, for now at least, and that it’s time to refocus on “supercharging” the economy.

 

 


 

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo has held daily briefings on the coronavirus and issued more than 250 executive orders, the state legislature has been absent from the capital for six weeks. Now, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins say they plan to hold committee meetings on Tuesday and convene in session in the following days to vote on legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 


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Memorial Day weekend begins with it beaches opening up and other tentative steps to restart the economy. In his daily coronavirus briefing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the reopenings can be done safely if people follow the rules.


Mike Desmond

New York will allow small religious gatherings starting Thursday as the state gradually loosens restrictions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at his Wednesday briefing.

Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has about 10 days before he has to make some big decisions about New York state’s estimated $14 billion budget deficit.


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Parts of New York state are gradually reopening, with western New York authorized on Monday to join five other regions of the state and begin the first of a four-phase process. The Capital Region will be allowed to begin reopening on Tuesday. 


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