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.  

Governor Cuomo's office


Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls changes in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that ease testing standards for Americans exposed to someone with COVID-19 “political propaganda,” and says he won’t follow them.

The CDC guidelines on who should be tested for the coronavirus now say that anyone who has had "close contact", within 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 infected individual for at least 15 minutes, should get tested.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed executive orders that he said will help ensure safe and secure voting in November’s elections. 

Cuomo said the fall elections will be one of the most critical and controversial in modern history, and he’s already signed bills approved by the state Legislature that will allow the COVID-19 pandemic to be an authorized reason for voting by absentee ballot, among other things. 

Now, the governor is taking those measures a step further.

freeimages.com/Jennifer Marr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that there won’t be any high school football games, wrestling matches or ice hockey contests this fall.

The governor did issue new guidelines to phase in matches for other types of school sports, however.

Cuomo says sports that are considered “low risk,” including tennis, soccer, field hockey, cross country track and swimming, can resume as early as Sept. 21 and teams can compete with other schools within their own region of the state. 

New York's ban on single-use plastic bags has been upheld in State Supreme Court after the plastics industry challenged it, and it will now take effect in September.

The lawsuit was filed by a plastic bag manufacturer, as well as two grocery and bodega store owners. They argued that the law is unconstitutional, saying, among other things, that it unfairly gives advantages to makers of paper and reusable bags at their expense.

New York will immediately allow all voters in the state to request a mail-in ballot for the November elections.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed bills into law Thursday that, among other things, allow all eligible voters to cite the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to vote absentee.

Governor Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that the rate of positive coronavirus tests was below 1% for the 12th day in New York. But he also said it’s not time to be complacent and predicted there could be worse to come this fall. 

Cuomo said it’s “great news” that the infection rate was at 0.78% for Tuesday. The results of 80,425 coronavirus tests showed 631 New Yorkers tested positive. Six people died of the disease. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during a brief video address at the first night of the Democratic National Convention, spoke of New York’s struggles overcoming the coronavirus, and why he thinks Joe Biden needs to win the presidential race in November.

Cuomo said New Yorkers listened to their “better angels” and obeyed shutdown orders, wore masks and socially distanced in an effort to transform the state from the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic to having one of the lowest rates of transmission in the nation. He also thanked the 30,000 medical workers who came to the aid of the state.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he plans to use his prime-time speech at tonight's Democratic National Convention to reinforce the idea that government, and its leadership, matters.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated that. 

“Ask yourself, 'When was the last time government was as essential as it did today?’ ” Cuomo said. “Maybe the last time we went to war, maybe the Depression. 

“Government is making life-and-death decisions,” Cuomo continued. “It’s going to reshape the way that people think about government for a long time.” 

NYS Fitness Association, Facebook page

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that gyms in New York can reopen as early as Aug. 24, but must operate at one-third of their regular capacity.

Cuomo said the gyms can open as early as next Monday, but with several restrictions. Capacity must be limited to 33%, masks must be worn at all times, and there will be mandatory sign-in procedures and temperature checks at the door. Heating and cooling systems must be improved to avoid potentially recirculating the coronavirus, and what are known as MERV-13 filters are required.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said bowling alleys can reopen in New York beginning Monday -- and he said he’s issuing guidelines to allow gyms to reopen in the near future. 

The venues have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdown, and remained closed even though every region of the state entered the final phase of the reopening process over a month ago.

Cuomo said the bowling alleys can be back in business Monday, with restrictions. 

“Fifty percent occupancy, you must have a face covering, every other lane closed,” said Cuomo.