Karen DeWitt

Capitol Bureau Correspondent

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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The state’s attorney general has proposed a package of bills aimed at improving to what he said are “arcane” and “ridiculous” voting laws that bar many potential New York voters from casting ballots.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman began a statewide inquiry after his office received a record number of complaints about lack of voter access during the April presidential primary.

“In New York, we have what amounts to legal voter suppression,” Schneiderman said Tuesday at a news conference in Albany.

State lawmakers are considering whether to have a special session this month where they would vote on, among other things, a pay raise for themselves.

Assembly Democrats are holding three days of meetings aimed in part on whether they should gavel into session later this month to vote to give themselves their first pay raise in nearly two decades.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in recent days has publicly listed agenda items he’d like to see passed if there’s a session on salary increases, including possible term limits for legislators.

New Yorkers are evenly split on whether a Donald Trump presidency will be good or bad for the state, according to a new poll.

According to a new poll by Siena College, 49 percent of New Yorkers are optimistic about the country’s future for the next four years, while 48 percent are not. Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg said New Yorkers, like much of the nation, are sharply split.

“We are a divided nation,” Greenberg said.

Karen DeWitt

NY Senate Democrats now have 32 votes in the chamber, which under normal circumstances would mean they hold the majority.

But in the state Senate, it’s more complicated than that.

A hand count of the votes for a Senate race on Long Island finds that the Democrat, John Brooks, has beaten Republican incumbent Michael Venditto. Venditto’s father is under indictment on corruption charges. The Republicans have not yet formally conceded the race.

The result means Democrats now hold 32 seats, enough for a numerical majority in the 63-member Senate.

Matt Ryan New York Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued his first public comments since his former top aide and other former associates were indicted on corruption charges just before Thanksgiving.

Joe Percoco — regarded as a “third son” by the current governor’s father, Mario Cuomo — is charged with extortion and bribery, while the former head of SUNY Polytechnic, Alain Kaloyeros, is charged with bid-rigging in connection with major upstate economic development projects, including the Buffalo Billion.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday took a number of steps that he says are in reaction to the divisiveness in the nation that has intensified since the presidential election.

Cuomo, without mentioning President-elect Donald Trump by name, said the “ugly discourse” has made him “soul sick” for America. And he says there have been several instances in New York, including swastikas painted on a subway train and in a Buffalo suburb, along with a KKK flier placed on cars on Long Island.

Will there be a special session of the legislature this December?  Gov. Andrew Cuomo is offering lawmakers an incentive to come back to meet — a possible pay raise, in exchange for ethics reforms.

Legislators have not received a salary increase since 1999. Attempts to hike their pay have been caught up in political repercussions. First, there were years of late budgets, and more recently, corruption scandals that led to the two former legislative leaders facing prison time. 

Matt Ryan New York Now

Governor Cuomo is adopting a more conciliatory tone toward President elect Donald Trump, after Cuomo called Trump “un- New York” in the final days of the campaign.

Cuomo, in the final days of the campaign, stumped for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in New York, and heavily criticized Donald Trump.

“In truth, Trump is un New York,” Cuomo said. “Everything the man stands for is the exact opposite that this state stands for.”

Trump, like Cuomo, is a Queens native.

If the numbers hold, Republicans are poised to remain in control of the State Senate, and even pick up a seat. The news has reassured business groups but dismayed reform advocates.

Democrats had hoped to make inroads into the State Senate- but preliminary results show the Republicans gaining one seat to hold a razor thin 32 seat majority.

Despite a corruption scandal among Republicans on Long Island,  incumbent GOP Senators apparently kept their seats, and won an open seat formerly held by a Republican.

In close races in the Hudson Valley, GOP candidates also held on , and in a Western New York swing district that includes portions of the Buffalo area, Republicans took the post back from Democrats.