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 first professional break at WCBE-FM, Columbus. Karen was selected as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Program for Mid-Career Journalists at The Ohio State University in 1994. After earning her Master's Degree in that program, she worked at WBNS-TV in Columbus and then moved north to become the 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, at the time the first man put to death since Ohio re-instated capital punishment. Karen frequently reported for ABC Radio News, and also co-produced an award-winning nationally-distributed documentary on the one-year anniversary of September 11, 2001, which featured her interview with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge from the West Wing of the White House.

Since returning to Columbus, she's covered major elections and the controversies surrounding them. Each year she anchors the Bureau's live coverage of the governor's State of the State. She was a moderator for US Senate debates in 2012 and 2010, participated in several debates in 2010, and has led debates over statewide issues. She's produced features for NPR and "Marketplace", and has been interviewed by NPR, the BBC, NBC and several local and regional stations around the country. She's a regular panelist on WCPN/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".

She's been honored by the Association of Capitol Editors and Reporters, the Cleveland Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists, the Ohio Educational Telecommunications Commission, 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 currently 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.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien talks to some observers before the Parole Board hearing on Wayne Keith Henness.
Karen Kasler

The state parole board has unanimously recommended Gov. Mike DeWine not stop the execution of a man convicted of killing his substance abuse counselor in Columbus in 1993 and taking his car, credit cards and wedding ring to get money for drugs.

Minority Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton) offers the Democratic response after Gov. John Kasich's State of the State speech in March. Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron, far right) has announced she'd like to be Minority Leader.
Ohio House Democrats

Ohio House Democrats will pick a new leadership team next week, more than a week after their leader resigned in the fallout from the battle over which Republican would be Speaker.

The transportation budget, which is usually introduced in February, funds major road construction projects. It needs to be passed by the end of March.
Karen Kasler

A coalition of business leaders and local elected officials say there’s no money for big road construction projects in the transportation budget that will come out next month, so lawmakers have to at least consider the possibility of raising the gas tax.

One of the first signs to be completely replaced with Gov. Mike DeWine's name went up over the weekend on U.S. 23 near Toledo.

The state department of transportation has a bigger job than usual in changing the 36 road signs at Ohio’s borders that feature the new governor’s name. 

Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) takes the oath of office on the floor of the Ohio House. Holding the Bible with his back to the camera is Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus).
Andy Chow

The former speaker became the new speaker in a controversial vote, and he’s the first person in almost sixty years to become speaker a second time. And Larry Householder is being described as a masterful politician with a combination of a down-home charm and calculating shrewdness.

On Monday, Incoming Gov. Mike DeWine will bring a public inauguration back inside the Statehouse for the first time in 52 years, since Gov. Jim Rhodes took the oath of office in the Rotunda in 1967. And he also may bring back another tradition to the state capital.

Mike DeWine says Ohioans won’t have to wait long to see some of what he’s going to do as governor.

The vote that made Larry Householder the Speaker of the Ohio House again 14 years after he left that position was the end of the months-long battle to lead the chamber, but it’s the beginning of some new work - and maybe some more changes.

Larry Householder Elected Ohio House Speaker, Ousting Ryan Smith

Jan 7, 2019

In an unprecedented vote, the Ohio House has elected a new speaker, rejecting the Republican who had been serving in that position since June, when the previous speaker resigned.

Rep. Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) speaks before the House votes in June, as Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford, fifth from right) watches.
Karen Kasler

The vote for House Speaker on the first day of the two-year session is usually a unanimous formality, but the battle between two Republicans has allowed Democrats to come into the vote with surprising power.

A graph from the PCSAO report, showing a 28% increase in kids in custody over the last five years.

Gov.-elect Mike DeWine has said children’s initiatives are a top priority. But one group that advocates for kids says it’s going to push him to prove that in the upcoming state budget.

Over the years, Kasich has brought forward a lot of ideas, and his tone has changed dramatically, as he’s worked to accomplish his goals and create a national persona as a Trump critic and a promoter of bipartisan compromise - with mixed results.

It was a big year for the Ohio Supreme Court, with decisions on abortion, the death penalty and bobbleheads, and the final blow to what had been the state’s largest online charter school.

In between campaigning and legislating, state lawmakers also found themselves in the middle of some high profile drama and scandal in 2018. 

Karen Kasler

House leadership is saying a vote is scheduled for Thursday. But the current dean of the GOP caucus says there won't be a vote until he calls it.

A few autonomous vehicle shuttles, including this one parked in the garage at COSI, are now running in downtown Columbus.
Karen Kasler

Both outgoing Gov. John Kasich and incoming Gov. Mike DeWine have talked about autonomous vehicles in Ohio’s economy. State lawmakers say they’ve been studying the industry for the last 14 months, and they’ve now issued a report on what they can do to help.

The head of Ohio’s government watchdog agency has found what he’s calling “rampant fraud, waste and abuse” in the inmate vocational training program that operates 33 shops at 13 prisons. The report now goes on to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office.

Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) are both vying to lead the House next year.
Ohio House

As state lawmakers come back to work after Christmas to consider overriding at least one veto – if not more – from Gov. John Kasich, Republicans are being pushed to hold a long-awaited vote for Speaker to lead the House next year. And one member is suggesting a sudden move to break the impasse.

Karen Kasler

Gov. John Kasich has included a new category into state protections against discrimination in an executive order he signed Wednesday. But those protections might not last very long.

The Ohio House Democratic Caucus, in a photo taken after the U.S. Supreme Court's Janus decision on labor unions in June 2018.
Twitter @OHHouseDems

The behind-the-scenes battle over who will lead the Republican-dominated Ohio House next year isn’t just between supporters of current Speaker Ryan Smith and former speaker Larry Householder. 

Gov. John Kasich (left), Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) all spoke at the unveiling of the permanent display of Ohio's two constitutions at the Statehouse in November. But they did not appear together.
Karen Kasler

As state lawmakers race toward the end of this lame duck legislative session, they’ve been considering two bills that Gov. John Kasich opposes – the six-week “Heartbeat Bill” abortion ban and the “Stand Your Ground” self-defense bill.  And if he vetoes them as promised, lawmakers would have to come back to vote on them again during the holiday break.

Gov. Ted Strickland held his public inauguration ceremony on the west steps of the Statehouse in January 2007.

Gov.-elect Mike DeWine is giving a few hints about his inauguration next month.

House Speaker Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) spoke at the winter gathering of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and the County Engineers Association of Ohio.
Daniel Konik

State lawmakers could return during their holiday break to override vetoes on the so-called Heartbeat Bill abortion ban and on the Stand Your Ground self-defense bill, though they did remove a provision Gov. John Kasich didn’t like. But the Republican leader of the House is suggesting there may be another veto in the works that they could push back on.

Pic: Gov.-elect Mike DeWine speaks at the winter gathering of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio and the County Engineers Association of Ohio.
Karen Kasler

With just over a month before he takes office, Gov.-elect Mike DeWine spoke to the leaders of the state’s 88 counties – who plan to pressure him for more funding in the upcoming budget process.

Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) speaks on the Ohio House floor in March 2018.
Ohio House

A veteran conservative lawmaker wants a raise – and wants his elected colleagues at the local, county and state levels to get one too.  And he says it’s urgent that the idea moves forward right away.

Karen Kasler

A proposal to make it more difficult for citizens and groups to put amendments to the Ohio Constitution before voters may be running out of time. It didn’t get a vote in a House committee today. State lawmakers had wanted to make changes in the process because of recent big-money ballot issues that failed overwhelmingly.

The Ohio Department of Taxation office in Columbus
Karen Kasler

There was less money coming in to the state last month from personal income taxes, but the budget department’s forecasts still appear to be on track to avoid cuts.

Sen. Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) speaks at a November 2018 press conference on her bill to reform step therapy.
Karen Kasler

The bill doesn’t ban so-called "step therapy", but would allow for exemptions such as if medication causes an allergy or if the patient has already tried the treatment and it didn’t work.

Ohio's 1802 and 1851 constitutions are now on display at the Statehouse.
Karen Kasler

A hearing is set Thursday morning on a proposal designed to make it harder for citizens and groups to put constitutional amendments on the Ohio ballot. The plan would have to be approved by voters if lawmakers okay it, and the leaders of the Ohio House have very different ideas about it.

Ervan Rodgers, Alisha Nelson, Ann O’Donnell, Laurel Dawson, Mary Mertz and Major General John Harris stand behind Gov.-elect Mike DeWine as he announces they are his choices for various cabinet and senior staff positions.
Karen Kasler

Attorney General and incoming Republican governor Mike DeWine has announced more people he’s chosen to be members of his cabinet.