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NCPR News Staff: Karen DeWitt

NYS Capitol Correspondent
Karen DeWitt has covered state government and politics at the New York State Capitol for public radio for ten years. Before that she worked at WINS, New York. She has also written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life, Empire State Report, and Metroland. E-mail

Stories filed by Karen DeWitt

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Where drillers want to use hydrofracking in New York: pending well permit applications for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Image: Innovation Trail
Where drillers want to use hydrofracking in New York: pending well permit applications for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Image: Innovation Trail

Group asks why fracking health study is done in secret

Documents obtained by a group opposed to hydrofracking show that the Cuomo Administration's is conducting a thorough and comprehensive health study on the controversial natural gas drilling process.

The Finger Lakes based organization is wondering, why then, the review has been conducted almost entirely in secret.  Go to full article
Demonstrators at the capitol call for state action against transport of crude oil on New York train tracks. Photo: Karen DeWitt
Demonstrators at the capitol call for state action against transport of crude oil on New York train tracks. Photo: Karen DeWitt

Green groups pressure Cuomo on rail oil trains in NY

National environmental groups are putting the spotlight on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, over the issue of the expanding international oil distribution center, located just blocks from the State Capitol, at the Port of Albany.

They call this Cuomo's "Keystone" moment.  Go to full article
A pleased Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the signing of the NY SAFE Act. Photo: Gov. Cuomo's office via <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/">Flickr</a>
A pleased Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the signing of the NY SAFE Act. Photo: Gov. Cuomo's office via Flickr

April 15 marks assault weapons registration deadline

April 15, besides being tax day, is the first day that owners of semi-automatic weapons will be required to register their guns with the state police.  Go to full article
Neon sign at a medical marijuana dispensary in California. Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/caveman_92223/3410000930/in/set-72157624415963106">Chuck Coker</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Neon sign at a medical marijuana dispensary in California. Photo: Chuck Coker, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Medical marijuana: What's coming for NYS?

Now that the state budget is done, the focus at the Capitol shifts to some other priorities, including whether to allow medical marijuana. Advocates came to the Capitol to lobby lawmakers, but the bill is getting bogged down over political skirmishes.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver caused a bit of a stir when he seemed to say that a bill to legalize medical marijuana might be dead for the year, saying he does not think "it has a future" in the 2014 session.  Go to full article
NYSUT's new officers: Martin Messner, Secretary-Treasurer; Catalina Fortino, Vice President; Karen Magee, President; Andrew Pallotta, Executive Vice President; Paul Pecorale, Vice President. Photo: <a href="www.nysut.org/news/2014/april/first-woman-to-head-nysut-promises-to-be-a-strong-voice-for-change">NYSUT Media Relations</a>
NYSUT's new officers: Martin Messner, Secretary-Treasurer; Catalina Fortino, Vice President; Karen Magee, President; Andrew Pallotta, Executive Vice President; Paul Pecorale, Vice President. Photo: NYSUT Media Relations

New teachers' union president wants more clout for group

There's a big change at state's largest teacher's union, New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), as members elected new leadership.

The union's new president, Karen Magee, is the first woman to run the organization. The shakeup comes over concerns with the state's flawed implementation of the new Common Core learning standards. Teachers are complaining that they were not adequately prepared to teach to the new standards, and that the test results should not be used to evaluate their performance.  Go to full article

DiNapoli: I won't be "sacrificial lamb" on campaign finance reform

New York state comptroller Tom DiNapoli says he won't be participating in a new pilot public campaign finance program agreed to in the state budget, and government reform groups say, they don't blame him.

Saying he won't be a "convenient sacrificial lamb", DiNapoli says he won't opt in to a test system for public campaign finance that applies only to his office, and would use money from the comptroller's unclaimed funds to pay for it.  Go to full article
This graph shows the rise in lobbying between 1992 and 2013. Image: JCOPE annual report
This graph shows the rise in lobbying between 1992 and 2013. Image: JCOPE annual report

More than $200 million spent on NYS lobbying, report finds

A new record has been reached in spending on lobbying in New York, according to a report released by the state's ethics commission. It finds over $200 million was spent, mostly by a few top interests, to try to influence government and policy in Albany.

The report, by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, finds $210 million was spent by lobbyists to mostly influence state and local governments. That's nearly $1 million for each of the 213 Senators and Assemblymembers.  Go to full article

New York state anti-corruption panel ends as part of budget deal

The recently-enacted state budget marks the end of a commission that was investigating corruption in the legislature. Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to dismantle the Moreland Act panel as part of a deal on ethics reform.  Go to full article
You can celebrate that this is the greatest advancement that's been made, or you can say "we're disappointed that we haven't had a total victory."

Cuomo, leaders admit some unfinished budget issues

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are touting the virtues of the newly enacted state budget, but the spending plan has its share of critics.  Go to full article

Lawmakers beat the NYS budget deadline

Lawmakers hustled to finish work on the nearly $140 billion dollar state budget before the midnight deadline. It provides tax relief for homeowners and businesses, and expands pre-K statewide.

But the spending plan is not without some controversy.  Go to full article

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