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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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Matt Ryan New York Now

Reform advocates are taking exception to remarks made by Governor Cuomo, who said there already is enough oversight of potentially corrupt activities in Albany.

The governor has proposed a new inspector general, answerable to him, to look into future economic development contracts forged with private companies.

Nine former Cuomo associates have either admitted to crimes or are facing trial on charges including bribery and bid rigging in connection with the governor’s economic development projects.

Governor Cuomo spoke at the Sidney Albert Jewish Community Center in Albany on Wednesday Edit | Remove

Governor Cuomo has announced he’s visiting Israel this coming weekend, to pursue economic development projects and to bring a “message of solidarity.” Cuomo also spoke out against recent acts of anti-Semitism at the Jewish Community Center in Albany.

Just one month before the state budget is due, numerous interest groups are converging on the State Capitol, asking that they be included in the budget.

Among the more impassioned efforts is one from developmentally disabled people and their caregivers. They are seeking $45 million in state subsidies to pay workers more money to comply with the rising minimum wage in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature last year phased in an increase that will eventually lead to a $15 hourly wage in New York City and a $12.50 wage upstate.

A new poll finds that in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s numbers are rising while President Donald Trump’s are sinking.

For the first time in two-and-a-half years, Cuomo’s job approval rating is at 50 percent, after stagnating in the mid-40s since summer 2014. Steve Greenberg, spokesman for Siena College polling, said 60 percent of New Yorkers now say they have a favorable view of Cuomo, the largest number in two years.

WMHT

Judith Enck, the former regional administrator of the EPA under President Barack Obama, said the new head of the EPA under President Donald Trump threatens to roll back major environmental regulations, including climate change actions and pollution protections.

In an interview for public radio and television, Enck explained why she took the unprecedented step of signing on to a letter, along with hundreds of former EPA staff, protesting Scott Pruitt.

The Trump administration’s decision to rescind protections for transgender students will not affect New York state, according to the state’s education commissioner and legal experts. 

But they said the action nevertheless sends a “terrible message” to transgender teens.

New York state has a law known as the Dignity for All Students Act, approved by former Gov. David Paterson and an all-Democratic-led state Legislature in 2010. It was originally aimed at preventing bullying of gay and lesbian students.

Karen DeWitt

The state Legislature is off this week, but the session so far has featured an unusual amount of protests and arrests, and more actions are expected when lawmakers return. 

Twice in the first few weeks of the 2017 legislative session, protesters have been arrested at the state Capitol.

Eight people were arrested in late January. They were demonstrating against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s veto of a bill that would have provided funding for legal services for indigent New Yorkers.

“We want lawyers!” they shouted.

Matt Ryan New York Now

A leading budget watchdog group is accusing Gov. Andrew Cuomo of fudging the numbers in his state budget to appear to stay within his self-imposed 2 percent per-year spending cap.

Citizens Budget Commission began scrutinizing state and city budgets in New York during the Great Depression in the 1930s. They were listening when Cuomo repeatedly said that his latest budget plan keeps total spending below 2 percent for the seventh year in a row. Cuomo outlined the numbers during a budget briefing on Jan. 17.

Karen DeWitt

Some upstate lawmakers are asking the state to step in and fund refugee resettlement programs that they said have been caught up in President Donald Trump’s travel ban and the resulting chaos. 

The federal government funds refugee resettlement centers in upstate New York cities. But under the rules, the money for staff is based on the number of refugees coming in. When Trump’s travel ban briefly froze the entry of refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries, the funding for the resettlement centers dried up, too.

Karen DeWitt

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is pushing for a measure to stop treating 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the state’s criminal justice system.

Heastie said the proposals would take 16- and 17-year-olds out of the adult criminal justice system and treat them as juveniles in family court. Heastie, the first African-American speaker, said this is a personal issue for him.

“It’s embarrassing,” Heastie said. “For me, as a speaker of color, it’s hurtful to me that New York and North Carolina are the only ones who still treat 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.”

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