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Karen DeWitt

Capitol Bureau Chief

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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Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

State lawmakers, along with restaurant owners and their workers, are pressing for a two-year extension of takeout alcoholic beverages. They said the practice -- authorized at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic -- has allowed the businesses to keep their doors open and avoid some layoffs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in one of hundreds of executive orders issued in 2020, allowed alcoholic drinks to be ordered and delivered along with takeout food. 

A virtual rally for a bill to allow terminally ill New Yorkers to end their lives featured former public radio talk show host Diane Rehm. She is among many advocating for the Aid in Dying Act.

New York paused administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, after the federal Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control recommended halting the doses because a few recipients developed blood clots.

Out of the 6.8 million Americans who have already received the J&J vaccine, six women developed blood clots after receiving the doses. One died, and another was hospitalized in critical condition.

After the FDA and CDC announced the temporary halt Tuesday morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York state is also pausing the doses. Monroe County is doing the same.

Governor Cuomo's office

  

Criminal justice advocates in New York state say they hope to build on recent victories, such as the legalization of adult recreational use of marijuana, to gain more reforms for members of Black and brown communities who are incarcerated at a higher rate than white New Yorkers. 

Advocates and progressive-leaning Democratic lawmakers hope that in the legislative session’s remaining weeks, measures that reform the state’s parole system will be passed.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that New York state will distribute 35,000 COVID-19 vaccines directly to state’s and New York City’s public colleges and universities — where some schools have already begun offering the vaccine — with the aim of vaccinating as many college students as possible before the end of the spring semester.

Cuomo said the state will ship vaccines directly to campuses.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo commented for the first time on Wednesday about allegations that he gave priority to COVID-19 tests for his family and friends, last spring when the tests were scarce.

Karen Dewitt

Progressive Democrats in the New York State Legislature took a victory lap after passing a budget that achieves many of the groups’ long-term goals, including a substantial increase in taxes on the wealthy and the fulfillment of a 15-year-old court order to fully fund the schools. Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, embroiled in several scandals, put the best face on items that did not go his way.

Six days after it was due, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York State’s legislative leaders announced a final agreement on a $212 billion budget deal. It increases taxes on the wealthy and adds funds for schools, renters and small businesses — including restaurants — who struggled financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate and Assembly held a marathon session that was expected to last well into Tuesday night to approve the budget bills.

Five days into the new fiscal year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders say they have a “conceptual agreement” on a new state budget. If the deal holds, it would include $4 billion in new taxes, including higher income tax brackets on millionaires and a tax increase for some large corporations.

If the budget agreement is approved, New Yorkers who make more than $1 million a year would see their taxes increased by nearly one percentage point. Two new higher tax brackets would be added for those with annual incomes over $5 million and over $25 million.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo may have violated state ethics laws, according to published reports, that he used his staff to help him write a book on how he managed the COVID-19 pandemic, and that he gave his family and politically connected associates priority access to coronavirus tests.

But the state’s ethics commission, which has the power to investigate the allegations, has a poor track record investigating claims of corruption.

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