WXXI AM News

Capitol Bureau

Capitol Bureau correspondent Karen DeWitt reports on what is happening in Albany, and how the decisions made by lawmakers affect you. Karen reports for WXXI and 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 New York Now, the statewide public television program about New York State government seen on WXXI-TV Sundays at 6:30 p.m.  

A new poll finds the presidential election is not settled yet for some New Yorkers. Three weeks after Election Day, 20% of respondents say it’s too early to tell who actually won.

NYS Senate

Democrats who lead the state Senate announced Monday that they have won enough seats to hold a supermajority. That means they can override vetoes by the governor and potentially change the balance of power at the State Capitol.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo intensified restrictions in several parts of New York on Monday as the coronavirus infection rate climbs. He also delivered a stern warning to New Yorkers who are tempted to break the rules during the holiday season, saying careless behavior will lead to more deaths.

Governor Cuomo's office

As the Thanksgiving holiday week begins, New York State officials are recommending that dinners and other gatherings of family and friends be limited or even cancelled, to prevent a further rise in COVID-19 transmission.


New York’s rate of the virus has been creeping up all fall, though the state is still at a significantly lower rate than most of the rest of the nation. 2.74% of all tests were positive on Saturday, and 30 people died of the disease, and 2562 were in the hospital.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This week, as the coronavirus infection rate climbed higher in New York state new microcluster zones were announced in New York, and some existing ones were intensified.

A business group is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stick to that approach of limited closures, saying they won’t survive a complete economic shutdown.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared more regions as microcluster coronavirus hot zones as the rate of COVID-19 continues to climb in New York.

The new designations come as New York City’s mayor closed the city’s schools effective Thursday, as the virus rate there reached 3%.

Cuomo is changing some yellow zones in western New York to orange zones. Effective Friday, there will be new restrictions on religious gatherings, along with some business closures, including gyms, hair salons and tattoo parlors. Indoor dining is banned.

Now that elections are over, leaders of the New York State Legislature are facing pressure from a wide range of groups to reconvene and deal with pandemic-related economic problems. Legislative leaders say they are not ruling it out.

New York Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, members of the state Legislature, and judges in New York will not receive a pay raise next year due to the state’s $14 billion budget shortfall heading into 2021, according to a report issued Monday by a state panel tasked with evaluating those salaries.

The decision wasn’t a surprise; the same panel declined to provide raises to the state’s judges last year when the budget deficit was less than half what it is now.

In New York, absentee ballot counting is just getting underway in many counties, more than a week after Election Day.

Because so many more people voted by mail, eight close State Senate seats are undecided until the ballots are processed and it’s possible the new legislative session could begin in January before some of the races are decided.

There are about 1 million more ballots to count than in any previous year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing any registered voter to cast their ballot by mail this year.

Overnight on Friday, the New York State Thruway will make the switch to all cashless tolling. By Saturday morning, cameras mounted on steel gantries above the roadway will extract the tolls from E-ZPass accounts or send bills to motorist without one.

Cameras on 70 gantries at 58 locations on the Thruway will be turned on simultaneously early Saturday morning, and all of the remaining toll booths will shut down.

Thruway Authority Executive Director Matt Driscoll spoke about the project earlier this fall.

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