Karen Dewitt | WAMC

Karen Dewitt

NYS Capitol Correspondent

Ways to Connect

A photo of Lake George in New York
Jim Levulis / WAMC

newly formed coalition is joining with key state lawmakers to campaign for a ballot measure to give New Yorkers a constitutional right to clean air and clean water.

Nurses "pulling vaccine" at a mass vaccination clinic at the Times Union Center in Albany, NY.
Jackie Orchard / WAMC

New York City and the state of California announced Monday that government workers will have to get vaccinated or submit to weekly tests for the coronavirus. Teachers in New York City, beginning in September, will need to follow the same requirements, as worries about the increasing Delta variant grow. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking at Binghamton University April 27, 2021.
WSKG/Vaughn Golden

Governor Andrew Cuomo is responding to complaints by New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, about the state’s rate of distributing federal rent relief dollars. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, says a new streamlined application process for tenants beginning Tuesday.   

File: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Pat Bradley / WAMC

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his first public appearance since being questioned by the state Attorney General’s office about allegations of sexual harassment, cast doubt on the motives of the investigators, saying it’s likely that “politics” are involved.

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie
Karen DeWitt

A member of the New York State Assembly committee carrying out an impeachment inquiry into Governor Andrew Cuomo says the Democrat’s administration might be trying to intimidate potential witnesses in an ongoing investigation by the state Attorney General concerning sexual harassment allegations against the governor. Meanwhile, remarks by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie drew fire from the attorney representing one of the women who say Cuomo harassed them.

The cover of the AARP caregiving report
WAMC screen capture

AARP finds nearly 80% of New York’s 2.5 million unpaid family caregivers pay a significant amount of their own money to help care for their loved one. The group is pushing for federal and state tax credits to help ease that growing burden.

Voting booths
Pat Bradley / WAMC

Over the weekend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a package of voting reforms including ones that ease the rules and restrictions on mail-in absentee balloting. But a leading voter access advocate says the state still has more to do before mail-in balloting is universally accessible. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking at Binghamton University April 27, 2021.
WSKG/Vaughn Golden

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is scheduled to be interviewed Saturday by the state Attorney General's office about allegations from multiple women that he sexually harassed them.  

New York state Capitol
Jim Levulis / WAMC

The chair of the state Senate Ethics Committee says even though hearings to fix New York’s dysfunctional ethics panel have been delayed, she’s hopeful that solutions can be reached by the end of the summer.

File photo: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Pat Bradley / WAMC

Governor Andrew Cuomo defended the state’s death count during the COVID-19 pandemic, following a report by the Associated Press that says New York may have undercounted the number of deaths from the disease by as many as 11,000.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Eric Adams, Democratic nominee for New York City mayor
https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/51311512118/

Governor Andrew Cuomo held a unity event Wednesday with Eric Adams, the winner of the Democratic primary for New York City mayor. They announced plans to combat rising gun violence. 

The New York State Capitol
Jackie Orchard / WAMC

A New York State Senate hearing scheduled to examine the troubled state ethics commission was postponed Monday. There were concerns that it might have been in violation of New York’s open meetings law, because too many senators were opting to participate over Zoom, instead of showing up in person.  

Map of New York's current Congressional districts
Public Domain

The commission tasked with drawing new district lines for New York’s Congressional and state legislative seats will hold nine public hearings.

File photo: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Pat Bradley / WAMC

A bill that would require New York state to create a locked box for funds from future opioid drug manufacturer settlements has been sent to Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo. The measure, which has bipartisan support as well as the backing of Democratic state Attorney General Tish James, would change Cuomo’s practice of placing the money into the state’s general fund.

People wait to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the University at Albany
Jesse King / WAMC

A fiscal watchdog group is using the Freedom of Information Law to try to get New York state’s health department to release more detailed data on the over 42,000 New Yorkers who died during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the Gender Recognition Act.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/51269064369/

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed into law the Gender Recognition Act, which was approved by the state legislature earlier this month.  It’s aimed at reducing discrimination against transgender and non-binary New Yorkers.  

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking at Binghamton University April 27, 2021.
WSKG/Vaughn Golden

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says he will relinquish the emergency powers he’s held for the past 15 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, as infection rates continue to drop and vaccination rates slowly climb. 

A photo of Lake George in New York
Jim Levulis / WAMC

Environmental groups say there were some wins in the recently concluded New York State legislative session, including a new constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to clean air and water. But business groups say the provision could lead to all sorts of complications.  

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking at Binghamton University April 27, 2021.
WSKG/Vaughn Golden

Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York is one tenth of a percentage point away from his goal of 70% of New Yorkers 18 and older getting at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.  

TeAna Taylor speaks in favor of the Elder Parole bill, which would give older inmates access to a parole hearing.
Karen DeWitt

New York’s legislative session is drawing to a close, but without the usual frenzy of hallways crowded with lobbyists and protesters and few last minute back room deals. For the second year in a row, the Capitol has been off limits to visitors, and Governor Andrew Cuomo, facing multiple scandals, is largely isolated from the negotiations.  

Scott Wexler, with the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, speaks in favor of extending alcohol-to-go, outside the New York State Capitol on June 10, 2021
Karen DeWitt

New York lawmakers will likely not be extending alcohol to go at restaurants and bars as part of their actions on the final day of the legislative session. Restaurant and tavern owners, who are still struggling financially, are expressing their disappointment. 

The New York State Capitol
Jackie Orchard / WAMC

The 2021 New York legislative session is in its final hours, with many items yet to be resolved. Criminal justice reforms continue to dominate at the end of the session, just as they have for the past two years.

New York state Capitol
Karen DeWitt

An apparent deal has been reached between the New York State Senate and Assembly on several criminal justice measures, including the sealing of some criminal records and a measure to hold gun manufacturers legally liable for people who commit crimes with their guns. 

New York state Capitol
Jim Levulis / WAMC

The New York State Senate’s Judiciary Committee held an at times contentious hearing Tuesday over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s nominees to the state’s highest court. Nominee Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas faced some tough questions from senators on the left and the right. In the end, Singas and the governor’s other judicial appointees won approval in the Senate.  

Actor and 2018 candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon addresses a rally for the New York Health Act at the State Capitol on June 7, 2021
Karen DeWitt

Actor and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon was among advocates for single payer health care who rallied at the New York State Capitol Monday. They are urging lawmakers to approve the New York Health Act before the session ends. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a briefing Feb. 1, 2021.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/50899279501/

Following a weekend of confusion for school children, their parents and teachers, Governor Andrew Cuomo is clarifying changes in mask policy for schools in New York. The Democrat now says children don’t have to wear masks outside, but do have to wear them inside.  

New York state Capitol
Jim Levulis / WAMC

This week the New York State Senate approved a measure to allow adult survivors of sexual harassment and assault to bring their abusers to court. Advocates hailed the action, but say they are increasingly frustrated and “alarmed” over the failure of the state Assembly to act on the bill, and on other anti-sexual harassment measures.   

The New York State Capitol
Jackie Orchard / WAMC

As the New York State legislative session draws to a close, lawmakers are considering several criminal justice changes, including what’s known as clean slate legislation. It would expunge some criminal records for those who have already served their time in prison.

New York State Senator Robert Jackson
Karen DeWitt

Supporters of a measure that would end some legal immunity for police officers who injure or kill a citizen during an arrest rallied at the New York State Capitol Wednesday. They say the practice, known as qualified immunity, gives bad cops too much protection.

New York Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt speaking June 1, 2021.
Karen DeWitt

Democrats who lead the New York State legislature are moving ahead with several criminal justice reforms in the remaining weeks of the 2021 session. But Republicans are pushing back, saying the measures go too far and will contribute to the rising crimes rate across New York. 

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