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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

The leader of the Senate Republicans said he’s against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to require local governments in each county to offer government consolidation plans to go before voters in November.

Senate Leader John Flanagan told a meeting of the state’s mayors that the governor’s proposal, while “laudable in its intent,” is too “convoluted” and forces local voters to dive too deeply into the sausage-making of local government.

Matt Ryan New York Now

Environmental groups are pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to codify into law some of the steps he’s taken to protect the environment and cut down on pollution related to climate change. At a budget hearing Monday, lawmakers were focused on a more immediate concern — clean drinking water.

Legislative budget hearings were interrupted once again, this time by anti-climate change activists shouting that they want “climate justice in the budget.”

Karen DeWitt

With the confirmation of Rowan Wilson to the New York Court of Appeals, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has now picked all of the judges on the state’s highest court. He’s the first governor to do so since his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the leader of the state Senate are not as enthusiastic about making New York a sanctuary state as are Assembly Democrats, who passed a bill earlier this week.

Cuomo, who has spoken out strongly for immigrants and against President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, is not committing right now to support a bill to designate New York as a sanctuary state for immigrants.

“We have to review the bill because exactly what a sanctuary state is, is a little ambiguous,” Cuomo said in Schenectady on Wednesday.

A faction of breakaway Democrats in the state Senate has been gaining members lately, but they are now facing a backlash, including raucous opposition at meetings in their districts.

When Sen. Jose Peralta announced on his Facebook page that he was joining the Independent Democratic Conference, a growing group of breakaway Democrats in the Senate who form a governing coalition with the Republicans, he said he wanted to “deliver a progressive agenda.”

What Peralta did not expect was a backlash in his Queens district.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s acting tax commissioner took heat Tuesday from Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature over delays in the STAR rebate program. The hearing was interrupted by protesters who want higher taxes on millionaires.

Lawmakers changed the rules of the STAR school property tax rebates so that new homeowners would get their rebates by the end of September to use them toward their tax bills. That was September 2016. Five months later, some senators and Assembly members say they are hearing from constituents who still have not received their money.

The New York Assembly moved Monday to establish New York as a sanctuary state, but the measure faces an uncertain future in the state Senate.

Assembly Democrats are backing measures that would give the entire state sanctuary status for immigrants.

Matt Ryan New York Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to pass an amendment enshrining the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion decision Roe v. Wade into the state’s constitution is not gaining much traction in the state Senate.

Cuomo announced his plan at a Planned Parenthood rally but has so far offered no details. An effort to pass a law codifying the rights in Roe v. Wade has stalled in the Senate for years.

Senate Leader John Flanagan said he’s not running for governor right now, but in an interview with public radio and television, he admitted that he’s thought about it from time to time.

Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, said in “real life,” he’s occupied full time with leading the Senate, where Republicans rule in conjunction with several independent Democrats.

“That is my absolute, overarching No. 1 priority,” Flanagan said.

Matt Ryan New York Now

Lawmakers grilled Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development chair Wednesday at a budget hearing, as some of the programs are embroiled in a corruption scandal that’s led to charges against several former associates of the governor.

Nine people have pleaded guilty or been indicted in connection with alleged bid-rigging and other corruption charges involving some of Cuomo’s economic development programs. They face trial later this year.

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