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.  

Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

The New York State Thruway Board voted Tuesday to raise tolls by nearly a third for drivers who don’t have an electronic E-ZPass, beginning in January. The change has so far drawn little reaction among the public, but two state senators are against parts of the plan.

The Thruway converted to all cashless tolling in mid-November, after work crews mounted cameras on 70 steel gantries that span the lanes at 58 locations on the toll road.

The remaining toll booths will be removed by next summer, and toll collectors have been reassigned or laid off.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office

With New York state’s rate of COVID-19 infection above 4% for the second day in a row, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced new emergency hospital rules to prevent the state’s health care system from being overwhelmed.

Karen DeWitt/WXXI News

A state senator is objecting to a proposal by the New York State Thruway Authority to raise tolls by 30% for drivers who don’t have an E-ZPass.

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.

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