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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Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos says he’s strongly opposed to Governor Cuomo’s reproductive health act, saying it would lead to too many late term abortions. Pro choice lawmakers and advocates say they disagree with the Senator’s interpretation.

Senator Skelos first voiced his opposition to the Governor’s reproductive health act at the State’s Conservative party meeting, where some conservatives have been angered by the GOP leader’s vote on strict gun control measures earlier in January.

Governor Cuomo has proposed raising the minimum wage as part of his budget plan, even though the increase would not cost New York State any money. That tactic might make it easier for the proposal to become law.

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

In the 2 PM presentation, the governor is expected to explain how’s he’s going to pay for programs announced earlier this month in his State of the State message, including an expanded school day and school year.

Governor Cuomo, facing his third lean fiscal year as governor, closes a $1.3 billion dollar budget gap by holding spending flat for state agencies, which he estimates will save $434 million dollars, and putting off a cost-of-living increase for health care providers, worth $412 million dollars. He wants to raid a fund for workers compensation, with the promise of reforming the entire system, and raise a small number of fees, including higher fines for texting or using a cell phone while driving.

Cuomo says it’s a “different mentality” than the old days.

A new poll finds voters show overwhelming support for many of the items that Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing, including parts of the newly enacted gun control law. 

Steve Greenberg, with Siena College, says the poll asked voters whether they wanted New York to have the strongest anti gun laws in the nation, including banning assault weapons and outlawing magazine clips that hold more than seven bullets. Greenberg says the measures have broad support, at 73% to 26%.

Mental health advocates have some concerns over portions of the gun control laws approved by Governor Cuomo and the legislature this week.

The unique new governing coalition in the New York State Senate passed its first test , on the first full day of session, when Senators approved a sweeping gun control package urged by Governor Cuomo.

Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of the five member faction of Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference, took a gamble breaking away from the rest of the Democrats and forming the dominant governing coalition with the now 30 Republican Senators. Senator Klein admits that many believed the first test would be the success or failure of the gun control package

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.

The measures close loopholes in the state’s existing assault weapons ban to now include all assault rifles. Owners of the weapons will be allowed to keep their guns, but must register them and can’t sell them to others in New York State.  Magazine clips holding more than seven bullets will also be outlawed.

New details are emerging on gun control legislation that lawmakers say could be passed as early as today.

Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein predicts that New York State could have the toughest in the nation gun control laws before Tuesday that includes closing loopholes in the assault weapons ban and strengthened penalties for illegal guns. 

“When all is said and done, we’re going to pass a comprehensive gun bill today,” Klein said.

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 tried to deliver a letter to Governor Cuomo.

The wife and son of slain Beatle John Lennon traveled to the Capitol on what could be the last day of the final public comment period on whether hydro fracking should go forward in New York.

Yoko Ono says Governor Cuomo  should “tell the truth” about fracking.

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