Karen Kasler

Bureau Chief

Credit Kristen Kasler Peters

Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.

Karen Kasler is a lifelong Ohioan. She grew up in Lancaster, attended Otterbein College in Westerville, and found her professional break at WCBE-FM, Columbus. Karen was selected as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Master's Degree Program for Mid-Career Journalists at Ohio State University in 1994. She worked at WTVN-AM and WBNS-TV, both in Columbus - then followed eight years as afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor for WTAM-AM, Cleveland. Karen followed the demolition and rebuilding of Cleveland Browns Stadium, produced award-winning series on identity theft and the Y2K panic, covered the Republican National Convention in 2000 and the blackout of 2003, and reported annually from the Cleveland National Air Show each year, often going upside down in an aerobatic plane to do it. In 1999, she was a media witness to the execution of Wilford Berry, the first execution since Ohio re-instated capital punishment. Karen frequently reported for ABC Radio News, and in 2002 co-produced an award-winning nationally-distributed documentary on the one-year anniversary of September 11, featuring her interview with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge from the West Wing of the White House.

Since returning to Columbus in 2004, Karen has covered major elections and the controversies surrounding them. She was a moderator for the gubernatorial debate in 2018 and US Senate debates in 2016, 2012, 2010 and 2006. She's also led debates on statewide issues such as drug sentencing, marijuana legalization, redistricting and the collective bargaining law known as Senate Bill 5. Each year she anchors the Bureau's live coverage of the Governor's State of the State, and has led coverage of the inaugurations of the last three governors.

She's produced features for NPR and "Marketplace", and has been interviewed by NPR, the BBC, NBC and stations around the country. She's a regular panelist on ideastream's "The Sound of Ideas", a frequent guest on WOSU-TV’s “Columbus on the Record” and has appeared on WBNS-TV's "Face the State".

Karen has been honored by the Association of Capitol Editors and Reporters, the Cleveland Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists and holds a National Headliner Award. She's won several awards from the Ohio AP, and is a four-time winner of the AP's Best Broadcast Writing award. She's a three-time Emmy nominee for "The State of Ohio". She's a past president of the Ohio Associated Press and has served on the Board of Directors for the Central Ohio Society of Professional Journalists. Karen is also a former adjunct professor at Capital University in Columbus.

Karen, her husband and their son Jack live on Columbus' northeast side.

Anna Cunningham testifies about the rape she endured and the stories she's heard from other survivors before the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee.
Karen Kasler

For the first time since November, a Senate committee heard testimony on a bill to eliminate the time limit on prosecuting rapes.

Hannah Cox (right), national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, introduces the group: GOP strategist Michael Hartley, former death penalty juror Ross Geiger, son of murder victim Jonathan Mann and Rep. Laura Lanese (R-Grove City).
Karen Kasler

A national group of conservatives that oppose capital punishment has made Ohio the 14th state for its campaign to repeal of the death penalty. The group says the time is right to come to Ohio, which has been one of the leading states for executions.

Laura Jones, who chairs the citizens committee that works to pass levies in the Hudson City Schools, hands a bagged lunch to Rep. Don Jones (R-Freeport), who chairs the conference committee hearing the changes to EdChoice.
Karen Kasler

Lawmakers and school leaders would normally have Presidents Day off, but instead they spent it at the Statehouse, as testimony on changes to the EdChoice private school voucher program went on. Most of the witnesses were firmly in one of two camps – public schools or parochial schools.

Statehouse News Bureau

The deadline to register to vote for the first-ever Ohio presidential primary on March 17 is Tuesday. Early voting begins Wednesday.

Saddia Kendrick, an eighth grader at Corryville Catholic in Cincinnati. She wants to attend a private Catholic high school, but said if EdChoice is eliminated her family wouldn’t get a $6,000 voucher and they would have to pay tuition.
Karen Kasler

As conference committee hearings on a bill to change the state’s EdChoice private school voucher program go on, parents and students in that program came together to speak out for one of the two plans being debated by lawmakers. A resolution needs to be agreed on before the EdChoice application process opens April 1.

Karen Kasler

There’s now a dual front in the battle over what to do with the state’s private school voucher program – two conference committees dealing with two versions of vouchers. A resolution needs to happen before April 1, when the process to apply for those vouchers opens up after lawmakers delayed it.

Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) and House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford)
Karen Kasler

With just hours to go before families could submit applications for the state’s EdChoice private school voucher program on February 1, lawmakers delayed that window till April 1 till they could work out a compromise. And those chambers’ Republican leaders are holding fast to their different proposals.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks at an event outlining election security efforts his office has ordered.
Karen Kasler

The state’s chief elections officer is criticizing President Trump and other key figures for sharing rumors and false information related to voting, recently about the Iowa caucuses but going all the way back to the 2016 election. This comes as Ohioans prepare to start early voting in two weeks for the presidential primary in March.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose and board of elections officials at his press event: Deputy Director Shantiel Soeder of the Cuyahoga County BOE (right), Director Laura Bruns of the Miami County BOE and Director Michelle Wilcox of Auglaize County BOE.
Karen Kasler

90 percent of all Ohio counties are now considered compliant with an election security order issued by the Secretary of State last summer. That leaves a handful that aren’t, with two weeks until voters start casting early ballots for the March presidential primary.

The All People's Fresh Market in Columbus, where low-income people can pick up produce and other items for free to save their SNAP benefits to use at grocery stores.
Karen Kasler

20,000 childless adults who are considered able-bodied and receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 29 Ohio counties will soon be getting letters telling them their benefits are being cut off if they don’t find work quickly.

Karen Kasler

The House has voted on a plan to move the start of Ohio's private school voucher application process ahead to April 1, just hours before the EdChoice program is supposed to start accepting applications on Saturday. It now has to go to the Senate this morning, and a statement suggests the vote there may run into problems.

Daniel Konik

Talks on a deal to stop a huge increase in the number of Ohio public school buildings where students would qualify for private school vouchers are dragging on. And the House Speaker is proposing a major overhaul of the voucher system.

Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) speaks to reporters after House session, while waiting for the Senate to take action on a bill that includes a change to the EdChoice voucher program.
Karen Kasler

Republican leaders in the Senate have approved a deal that would stop a dramatic increase in the number of public school buildings where students will be eligible for private school vouchers starting this weekend.

Karen Kasler

State lawmakers are expected to vote on a compromise that could stop a huge increase in the number of Ohio public school buildings where students will be eligible for private school vouchers starting this weekend. If a change is made, it has to happen before the EdChoice voucher program starts accepting applications on Saturday.

Andy Chow

As lawmakers consider a deal that would avoid a large increase in the number of public school buildings where students would qualify for performance-based vouchers, Ohio’s largest school groups are raising concerns about it.

Rep. Randi Clites (D-Ravenna) speaks about the copay assistance bill sponsored by Rep. Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield, left) and Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton). Clites’ 17 year old son has hemophilia.
Karen Kasler

Some Ohioans who rely on copay assistance programs to help with expensive medications are finding that their insurance companies are no longer allowing those payments to apply to their deductibles. Two lawmakers are hoping their bill will stop that.

Crystal Brown, left, comforts her 15 year old daughter Josephine Brown-Walker as she talks about her EdChoice voucher, which allows her to attend a Christian high school in Columbus.
Karen Kasler

Lawmakers who’ve wanted to stop the impending explosion in the number of school buildings where students will be eligible for the state’s largest private school voucher program say there’s a deal in the works. But parents and students already in the EdChoice program want it to stay and expand.

Ron Corby

Anti-death penalty activists say they’re seeing movement on their cause from a group that’s long been viewed as supportive of capital punishment – conservative Republicans.

Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at the annual Ohio MLK Commission commemoration at Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus.
Twitter: @govmikedewine

There are many commemorations of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday across Ohio – including the largest in the country, the MLK breakfast in Columbus. Among those observances was a state sponsored event at a Columbus church.

A group of students in an elementary school classroom in Westerville.
Karen Kasler

The number of public school buildings where students will be eligible for the state’s largest private school voucher program will more than double in the coming school year. And that could blow huge holes in the budgets of 70 percent of Ohio’s school districts. Lawmakers who have said they want to change that are running out of time.

Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford), along with Gov. Mike DeWine and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), stand at the dais in the Ohio House and wave at the 2019 State of the State speech.
Andy Chow

For the first time in eight years, Ohio’s governor will deliver two consecutive State of the State speeches at the state capitol.

Joined by her family, Maureen Corcoran was sworn in as Director of the Ohio Department of Medicaid in January 2019.
Karen Kasler

The director of Ohio Medicaid says her agency is dealing with big problems and could face huge fines from the federal government if they’re not fixed. And she’s pointing to the administration of former Gov. John Kasich for creating and not handling those mistakes.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson presents a mock-up of a check to Sonya Thesing, executive director of Huckleberry House, which works with teens and families in crisis from abuse, violence, poverty and homelessness. It is among 280 in Ohio getting money from HUD.
Karen Kasler

The U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development came to Columbus to announce new money to combat homelessness across the country – the day after a new report showed a slight increase in Ohio’s homeless population.

Deadly drug overdoses in Ohio fell nearly 22 percent in 2018, to the lowest number in three years. And overdose deaths dropped in every category of drugs except one.

Security systems surround the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, where executions are performed. Condemned inmates live on Death Row at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution 35 miles away.
Daniel Konik

There hasn’t been a killer put to death in Ohio in 18 months. And the state’s last execution has likely taken place, according to the architect of Ohio’s 1981 death penalty law. But prosecutors say killing off capital punishment entirely would be a mistake.

Donald Trump campaigned at the Columbus Convention Center on August 1, 2016. It was one of three visits he made to the Columbus area that year.
Andy Chow

The location, timing and message of this Trump rally could be a preview of his re-election strategy.

In October, Reps. D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) and Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) talked about their bill.
Andy Chow

The leader of the Ohio House had pointed to that bill as an alternative to Gov. Mike DeWine’s anti-gun violence package – a proposal that is likely to be opposed by some Republicans.

The interior showroom at the Fuyao Glass America plant in Moraine, where the announcement was made.
Jerry Kenney, WYSO

An expansion by Fuyao Glass America will bring a hundred new jobs and $46 million in new investment to what was a GM plant in Moraine.

A map of Donald Trump's 2016 performance. He had the highest percentage of any GOP presidential candidate since 1980 in 38 counties (dark red) and second highest in 22 counties (lighter red).
Data from Ohio Secretary of State

The 2020 presidential election could end up being a critical one not just to the winner and his or her supporters, but also to Ohio. Buckeye State voters have picked the winning candidate in each presidential contest since 1960 – and no Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio. 

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) spoke at an Ohio Right to Life rally at the Statehouse in January 2016.
Karen Kasler

Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senator and most of its Republican Congressional delegation have signed onto a court document that could lead to the overturning of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion.

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