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 met for the first time since two Democrats were successful in special elections held on Tuesday. Though the Senate now has 32 Democrats, the number required to form a majority- it was back to business as usual with the GOP in charge.

Senator Simcha Felder is the lone Democrat remaining with the Republican caucus, and giving the GOP the one seat needed to keep the majority in the chamber.

Two feuding factions of mainstream and independent democrats already reunited on April 5th.

Even before the results of two special elections Tuesday in the State Senate were decided, the lone Democratic Senator who caucuses with the Republicans says he’s sticking with the GOP. That means Democrats will likely not control the Senate any time this year.

Senator Simcha Felder said in a statement that, with only 25 days remaining in this year’s legislative session, he wants to do what’s best for his constituents.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a bill to ban plastic grocery bags in New York, but not everyone is praising him for it.

Cuomo’s plan would prohibit all single-use plastic carryout bags at any point of sale. But Peter Iwanowicz with Environmental Advocates says there are too many exceptions in the bill.

“In fact they’ve included a pretty significant loophole. By allowing retailers to claim their bags are recyclable or reusable that would really nullify their effectiveness.”

Two of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s political opponents were at an Earth Day rally on climate change attended by hundreds at the State Capitol, where they said the governor’s energy policies are far from adequate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a speech at the annual meeting of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., where he offered remedies to fix the nation’s Democratic Party.

Cuomo railed against President Donald Trump and his administration, saying they are “anti-American” and opposed to everything that King preached about. But he said the Democratic Party got it wrong in 2016.

The Working Families Party split up over the weekend, with some of the last remaining major unions leaving the group. The progressive political party announced it is backing Cynthia Nixon for governor, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo withdrew from consideration, saying he’s sticking with the major unions, for now.

The choice seems a safe bet for the incumbent governor.

A new Siena College poll finds Governor Cuomo well ahead of his Democratic and Republican challengers for Governor, but at his lowest rate of favorability among voters.

Monday marked the first day that the former breakaway Democrats in the New York State Senate were working with the mainstream Democrats after they agreed to reunify earlier this month.

Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said so far, it’s all proceeding smoothly, but she dampened expectations that major new legislation would get done before the session ends in June.

TV’s Sex and the City star and education advocate Cynthia Nixon won the endorsement of the minor party Working Families Party at a meeting in Albany Saturday. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is running in a Democratic primary against Nixon, dropped out of contention for the party’s nomination Friday night, after delegates were leaning toward Nixon.

“I am so proud to accept the endorsement of the Working Families Party,” Nixon told the enthusiastic crowd of progressive and activist groups.

A key progressive third party in New York splintered Friday, as two major unions withdrew from the Working Families Party. Those still in the WFP say it makes it more likely that the activist groups remaining in the party  will endorse Cynthia Nixon over Governor Andrew Cuomo in a party meeting on Saturday. Meanwhile, late in the day ,Cuomo said he was dropping out. 

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