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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WBFO News photo by Karen DeWitt

New York State lawmakers returned to work after a two week spring break. It’s their first meeting since two lawmakers have been charged with bribery in corruption scandals.

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Governor Cuomo and the state’s district attorneys are pushing for laws to make it easier to prosecute bribery and public corruption cases, in the wake of recent scandals in Albany.

Two days after a state senator was arrested for trying to bribe his way onto the New York City mayoral ballot, a state assemblyman has been accused of accepting payments to sponsor legislation that would benefit developers of an adult day care center in the Bronx.

State senator arrested on corruption charges

Apr 2, 2013
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State Senator Malcolm Smith, a former Senate Majority Leader, has been arrested and indicted in a far-reaching bribery and corruption scandal.

The state legislature  finished voting just before midnight Thursday on the state budget. Final passage is occurring one week past lawmakers’ s self imposed deadline, but three days before  the spending plan was due to be finished.

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The state budget is on track to be finished on time and before the March 31 deadline now that all of the spending bills were finally printed shortly before midnight on Monday.

The New York State Senate held a rare Sunday session at the Capitol, in an attempt to get the state budget finished on time in the midst of major religious holidays.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they have an agreement on a new state budget.  The closed-door agreement announced Wednesday night puts Albany on track to pass the third straight on-time budget. 

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A new poll finds Governor Cuomo is paying a political price with Republicans in New York for enacting the nation's strictest gun control laws.

Photo by Karen DeWitt

Legislative leaders, after three separate meetings with the governor said they were “hopeful” that a final agreement could come before the weekend.  But Governor Cuomo late in the day said talks are “inconclusive”, and he expects negotiations to continue over Saturday and Sunday.

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A new Siena College poll finds a slight drop in Governor Cuomo’s popularity for the third month in a row. 

Harvey Rosenthal
New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services

Second amendment rights advocates, who have held rallies in Albany recently, are not the only group upset with portions of the state’s recently enacted gun law.  Some people with mental illnesses believe the law unfairly stigmatizes them.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he is unlikely to send an emergency message to allow state lawmakers to bypass a three-day waiting period for the state budget.

The New York State Assembly voted by 95 to 40 Wednesday to ban hydrofracking in New York for at least another two years.

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More than 1,200 plaintiffs have joined a lawsuit filed against the state claiming passage of New York's new gun control laws was unconstitutional.

New York State’s largest teachers union has filed a lawsuit against the state’s property tax cap, arguing it’s unconstitutional.

Dueling pro and anti fracking filmmakers held screenings and promotions for their films, as they await a decision by Governor Cuomo on whether fracking will go forward in New York. That could come by the end of the month.  As Karen DeWitt reports, at one point in the day ,  the two sides confronted each other in the halls of the Capitol.

Phelim McAleer is the creator of Fracknation, a film that claims to rebut charges made by environmentalists and  the popular anti fracking movie “Gasland”. He came to Albany to hold a screening of his film.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo’s championing of strict new gun control laws in New York has taken a toll on his popularity. A new poll finds that for the first time since taking office, Cuomo’s approval rating has dropped significantly.

Mayors from around the state came to complain about Governor Cuomo’s budget, as the first day of legislative hearings on the spending plan kicked off in Albany.

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Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a $142 billion state budget that includes federal aid for post-Superstorm Sandy recovery and closes a $1.3 billion budget gap.

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Governor Cuomo’s annual budget presentation is slated for Tuesday afternoon. It comes as the state’s comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, finds revenues are not coming to New York in quite the amount anticipated. 

Karen Dewitt/WBFO News

New York has become the first state to dramatically stiffen its gun laws after last month's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school.

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The New York state legislature is passing the toughest in the nation gun control laws laid out by Governor Cuomo . The Senate voted late Monday evening , and the Assembly was expected to act Tuesday morning.

WBFO News photo by Karen DeWitt

Anti-fracking activists, including Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, attempted to present the state’s environmental agency with over 200,000 comments, on the last day of a public comment period on the gas drilling process.  They also, along with other anti fracking activists, tried to deliver a letter to Governor Cuomo.

A document from Governor Cuomo’s Administration assessing the health impacts of hydro fracking, written several months ago, says the gas drilling process is likely safe if proper precautions are taken by the governor’s environmental agency. 

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Food pantries and soup kitchens say they are reluctantly becoming a permanent part of the nation’s safety net for the poor. In a new report on New York’s charitable food distribution system, the groups say it is government that needs to step in and lend a helping hand.

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Governor Andre Cuomo says federal gun laws need to be strengthened to prevent more shootings like the one in Newtown Connecticut, but he says New York State’s assault weapons ban has loopholes that need to be closed.

Senate Republicans dampened expectations that the new governing coalition in the Senate would move quickly on issues championed by Democrats, including a minimum wage increase and public financing of campaigns.

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The newly formed coalition of Republicans and Democrats who will run the State Senate in January, made  their first public appearance,  and responded to criticism that the new government leaves out blacks and Hispanics.

Photo courtesy of NYS Senate

The new co- leader of the State Senate, Jeff Klein, says he knows the new coalition of five Democrats and around 30 Republicans will have to prove itself in the coming months and deliver on key pieces of legislation, but he says they stand a better chance of success than if just the Democrats alone were in charge of the Senate.