WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Karen DeWitt

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.

The New York State Senate is experiencing its worst gridlock in nine years, with the two major factions tied at 31 members each. No legislation is moving through the chamber, but there’s lots of finger-pointing.

Tempers flared on the Senate floor as Democrat Michael Gianaris blamed the GOP for the stalemate.

“They don’t have the votes to pass a single thing in this chamber,” Gianaris shouted.

After two days of infighting, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was frustrated.

The New York legislative session is due to end in three weeks, but some state lawmakers are talking about leaving a week early because they believe they will accomplish so little in that time. 

Political gridlock in the state Senate and worsening relations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and majority-party Senate Republicans have led some lawmakers to say that perhaps they should end the session early.

But Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said his Democratic members are staying until at least June 20, the scheduled end of the session.

Democrats and Republicans, meeting this week at their state conventions, made their choices to fill the open seat for state attorney general after the resignation of Eric Schneiderman over a domestic violence scandal.

Democrats chose New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who said she’ll continue Schneiderman’s work pursuing cases to protect immigrants, consumer rights and women’s rights against threats by the federal government.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called in Democratic Party stalwarts Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden to endorse him as he received the overwhelming support of delegates Thursday at the state Democratic Convention on Long Island.

In his speech, Cuomo listed his accomplishments, saying his efforts to pass marriage equality, raise the minimum wage and enact gun control should be a model for the nation.

Republicans meeting at the state convention in New York City nominated Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro as their candidate for governor Wednesday and offered a scathing critique of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is seeking a third term in office.

Molinaro presented himself as a person who overcame the odds. He grew up in a family that relied on food stamps, became mayor of his hometown of Tivoli at 19, and now runs one of the state’s more populous counties.

The New York State legislature has chosen Barbara Underwood, the acting Attorney General, to replace the former AG Eric Schneiderman for the remainder of the term, which ends December 31. Underwood will be the first woman to hold that office.  

By a vote of 190 to zero at the joint session of the legislature Tuesday afternoon, Barbara Underwood became the first woman in New York’s history to hold the post of Attorney General.

The Democrats and the Republicans are holding their events simultaneously, on May 23 and 24, with the Republicans in New York City and the Democrats in Long Island.

On Wednesday, the Republican Party is expected to nominate Marc Molinaro as its candidate for governor. Molinaro, the 42-year-old Dutchess County executive, has been in politics since he was a teenager, becoming the mayor of his hometown of Tivoli when he was 19.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he still needs to consult with the other legislative leaders before he can set a date to vote on a replacement for former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to serve out the remainder of the term, which ends Dec. 31.

Heastie was noncommittal about when the Legislature will appoint a successor to Schneiderman.

“When we come back on Tuesday, we’ll talk to the members and see what they want to do,” Heastie said.

When Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon called for a state Moreland Act Commission to investigate government corruption Tuesday, she was not the first to do so.

Her opponent, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, requested and created a Moreland Commission several years ago to look at potential illegal activities in state government, but he disbanded it as part of a budget deal several months later.

The state Legislature began interviewing candidates Tuesday to replace Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned over a domestic violence scandal.

Up first was the current acting attorney general, Barbara Underwood, who is the favorite to win the appointment.

“I think it’s an understatement to say that none of us expected to be sitting here today for this purpose,” Underwood told senators and Assembly members gathered Tuesday at a meeting room in the state Capitol complex.

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