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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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Governor Cuomo's office

Governor Cuomo has begun a statewide tour to promote a bill to give teachers and school administrators the power to go to court and ask a judge to confiscate the guns of a student and their family, if they suspect the student might try to harm themselves or others.

Cuomo, speaking outside a high school in the Bronx,  made a personal connection to his bill, which would permit teachers, school administrators , and – parents- to seek help from the courts if they believe a child is mentally ill and should not have access to guns.

WBFO

A report from the state ethics commission clears Governor Cuomo’s former high level economic development official Sam Hoyt of sexual harassment charges, but the report leaves many unanswered questions.

The Republican candidate for governor, Marc Molinaro, is proposing term limits of two four-year terms for statewide offices – including the office of governor – and 12-year limits for state lawmakers.

Molinaro said it’s up to the governor of the state to set an example. He said if he is elected in November, he’d limit himself to two terms in office. He said it’s healthy for democracy.

Karen DeWitt

Government reform groups are urging the state Assembly to pass two bills that have already been approved in the  Senate that would  reform New York’s economic development programs. They say it’s needed more than ever on the eve of another federal corruption trial involving Governor Cuomo’s economic development programs.

The former head of high tech development in New York, former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros, goes on trial on corruption charges June 18th.

The business of the evenly divided New York State Senate remains stalled, as advocacy groups pressed for their bills to be acted on before the session ends in two weeks.

The Senate is split between 31 members of the Democratic conference and 31 members in the Republican conference. Democrats have allied with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who under the constitution presides over the Senate. They believe that Hochul can provide the tie-breaking vote in procedural matters, like whether a bill can be allowed to come to the floor for a vote.

Matt Ryan New York Now

In a spirited floor fight in the state Senate, Democrats tried once again but failed to get a vote on an amendment on women’s reproductive health care.

The argument over Senate procedure led to accusations that some Republican senators were trying to “mansplain” the rules to the state’s female lieutenant governor.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed an expansion to his Extreme Risk Protection Order bill that would give teachers the power to go to court to prevent a student’s access to guns.

Cuomo said the measure gives that power to teachers and school administrators who believe a student might use guns to be a danger to themselves or others.

“If a teacher believes there is a troubled student who might be dangerous, that teacher has the legal authority to go to a judge directly,” Cuomo said.

Democratic candidate for governor and actor Cynthia Nixon came to the Capitol to talk about the need for more education aid and what she says are Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s failings in that policy area. Meanwhile, Cuomo’s campaign said it’s Nixon who is being inconsistent.

Nixon spoke before the Small City School Districts association, a group that’s suing the state to obey a 2007 court order that said billions more need to be spent on the state’s schools.

Karen DeWitt

The New York State Senate is experiencing its worst gridlock in nine years, with the two major factions tied at 31 members each. No legislation is moving through the chamber, but there’s lots of finger-pointing.

Tempers flared on the Senate floor as Democrat Michael Gianaris blamed the GOP for the stalemate.

“They don’t have the votes to pass a single thing in this chamber,” Gianaris shouted.

After two days of infighting, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was frustrated.

“We saw the Democrats paying shameless games with people’s lives,” he said.

Matt Ryan New York Now

The New York legislative session is due to end in three weeks, but some state lawmakers are talking about leaving a week early because they believe they will accomplish so little in that time. 

Political gridlock in the state Senate and worsening relations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and majority-party Senate Republicans have led some lawmakers to say that perhaps they should end the session early.

But Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said his Democratic members are staying until at least June 20, the scheduled end of the session.

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