Karen Kasler

Bureau Chief

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.

A sportbook at New York New York casino in Las Vegas
Tino Bandito/shutterstock.com

The bill to legalize sports gambling in Ohio is not even a week old. And it was changed even before its first hearing on Wednesday.

A hallway at Westland High School near Columbus, photographed in 2018.
Karen Kasler

The school funding formula that’s in the latest version of the two-year state budget now being considered by the Ohio Senate will likely cost more than expected. The formula passed by the House last month seeks to calculate state aid based on 60% property values and 40% income in each school district.

Rep. Larry Householder, in his seat during a House session in March 2021.
Karen Kasler

Former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) remains in the House as he awaits trial on federal bribery charges related to the 2019 passage of House Bill 6, the sweeping energy law.

Karen Kasler

All Ohio students could be eligible for vouchers to go to any private school in the state under a bill being proposed by House Republicans.

Karen Kasler

Ohio’s sales tax revenues were up for the last month, but income tax collections were way down.

Voters cast ballots at the Franklin County Board of Elections on March 15, 2020. Two days later, the polls were closed for the primary statewide because of the pandemic and all voting was done by mail.
Karen Kasler

A bill that would put changes and restrictions on Ohio laws related to early voting, ballot drop boxes and other election laws has finally been introduced, after weeks of speculation.

The Mercer County Library, in a tweet promoting the library's resources for those who need internet access to fill out their US Census forms.
@Ohiolibrarycncl/twitter

Ohio’s libraries say they’ll lose money if the $74.7 billion state budget stays as is. And they told a Senate committee looking into the budget that they also won’t share in the billions that the state and local governments will get from the American Rescue Plan.

Demonstrators shot video of police on their phones during a protest in downtown Columbus in June 2020.
Statehouse News Bureau

One of the four bills that address the interaction between police and people on the streets, including protestors, could have stopped what’s become a common practice – videotaping cops on the job.

Activists gather at the Ohio Statehouse to announce they've filed petitions for a ballot issue to qualified immunity for law enforcement and other public workers. The records on the ground bear the names of people killed in shootings by police officers.
Karen Kasler

A group has taken the first step to asking voters next year to eliminate qualified immunity for police officers and other government employees accused in shootings or other actions.

Ohio Senate Finance Committee chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls)
Ohio Senate

The head of the Senate committee looking over the House-approved version of the state budget says he’s concerned that the new school funding formula includes money that was supposed to be earmarked specifically to help economically disadvantaged kids catch up to their wealthier counterparts.

A sign on I-670 approaching Columbus on March 29, 2020 reminds Ohioans of the "stay at home" order that was in effect. Thousands of Columnbus commuters normally used this freeway daily to get to their downtown offices.
Karen Kasler

Three employees of a conservative think tank in Ohio plan to appeal a decision by a Franklin County judge, dismissing their lawsuit over municipal income taxes paid during the pandemic.

Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) speaks on "The State of Ohio" on April 26, 2020.
Dan Konik

The Ohio Senate is now considering the $74.7 billion two-year state budget, which includes a 2% income tax cut. And the Republican who’s leading the committee looking at the spending plan says he hopes that will change.

Ohio is one of seven states losing a Congressional seat, along with California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
US Census Bureau

Ohio will lose a seat in the US House of Representatives starting with next year's election, bringing its total to 15 – its smallest Congressional delegation since 1833. And it’s unclear who among the 12 Republicans and four Democrats stands to lose their district when the lines are redrawn for next year’s election.

Voters drove up to workers helping them deposit absentee ballots as others waited in line at Franklin County's early voting center on October 24, 2020
Karen Kasler

Groups that represent elections officials and voters are cautiously approaching a Republican-backed bill to make changes in Ohio’s laws on early voting, voter ID and other issues – just a few months after a historic election in which the GOP won the state but their candidate lost the White House. 

A line of early voters stands by a ballot drop box at the Franklin County Board of Elections on October 20, 2020.
Karen Kasler

Ohio has joined the list of states where Republicans want to make changes to voting laws after the 2020 election. And there are changes in this bill that appeal to both parties, but some that Democrats have spoken against.

The Ohio House approved its version of the $74.7 billion two-year state budget in a session on April 21, 2021.
Karen Kasler

On a mostly party line vote, the Ohio House has approved the version of the $74.4 billion two-year state budget that was proposed by Republican leadership.

The bench of the Ohio Supreme Court
Dan Konik

A bill to list party affiliations of candidates for court of appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court on the November ballot has passed the state Senate – on a party line vote.

fizkes/shutterstock.com

One of the changes made by Ohio House leaders to the budget of their fellow Republican Gov. Mike DeWine deals with language for people who want to become parents through adoption.

The Ohio House Finance Committee met Tuesday, April 20 to receive the final version of the House budget and vote it out to the floor.
Karen Kasler

The Ohio House will vote on its version of the two-year state budget Wednesday, after it cleared a House committee with all Republicans and two Democrats voting for it. But there are still questions about the changes to the school funding formula in it.

A Columbus area gun store
Dan Konik

A week after House Republicans stripped some of Gov. Mike DeWine’s gun regulations from the state budget, minority House Democrats have responded with a package of even tougher legislation.

The Ohio Theatre, one of several operated by CAPA, was shuttered in March 2020, along with performance spaces and venues throughout Ohio and the US.
Karen Kasler

Arts organizations in Ohio and around the country are waiting for the relaunch of a system that will allow them to apply for billions in COVID relief – after it shut down on the day it was supposed to open for business in early April.

Dan Konik

Fourteen Ohio House Republicans have signed onto a bill that could allow the state to reject federal gun laws and rulings that state lawmakers feel violate the Second Amendment.

Attorney General Dave Yost speaks to reporters at a press conference in February 2020.
Karen Kasler

An income tax cut inserted into the budget by Ohio House Republicans only strengthens the state’s case against a ban on tax cuts in the latest federal COVID relief package, according to the official who’s leading the lawsuit over that ban.

Rep. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) speaks to reporters at a press conference at the Statehouse in February 2020.
Andy Chow

The top Democrat on the committee hearing the Ohio House's version of the two-year state budget says she’s not surprised that Republicans have added a 2% income tax cut, though that wasn’t in the initial proposal from their fellow Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. But she’s frustrated by it. 

Signs at the entrance to a bar in downtown Cleveland, indicating that masks are required.
Karen Kasler

Ohio House Republicans added a provision into Gov. Mike DeWine’s two-year state budget that would erase violations of his COVID health orders by bars and taverns, such as selling too many cocktails to go, not enforcing social distancing and masks or allowing drinking past curfew. But it would also refund those liquor permit holders what they paid in fines.

Office of Budget and Management Director Kim Murnieks testified before the House Finance Commitee on February 4, 2021.
Karen Kasler

Republicans in the Ohio House have added a tax cut and changes to school funding to Gov. Mike DeWine’s two year budget. And they’ve made some other changes that Democrats are calling “a mixed bag”.

A sports betting venue in Las Vegas, Nevada
NYCStock/shutterstock.com

A coalition of bowling alleys, bars and other businesses that sell lottery games, and mayors is pushing back and rejecting any plan to allow Ohio’s four casinos to control sports gambling in the state. This comes as a proposal on sports gambling is set to come out of the Senate soon.

Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center was the first facility in Ohio to use the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at a clinic on March 2, 2021.
Ohio State University/Logan Wallace

Some 15 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses had to be discarded after an incident at a production plant in Maryland. And it’s unclear if that will affect Ohio’s plans to continue its vaccine rollout, now that everyone over 16 is eligible to get a shot.

The Kyger Creek Power Plant in Gallia County is one of two operated by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (OVEC), which received subsidies through House Bill 6.
Karen Kasler

This week Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law the end of a billion dollars in charges that Ohio electric ratepayers would have paid to prop up the state’s two nuclear power plants. This new law effectively takes the nuclear bailout out of the energy law known as House Bill 6, which passed in 2019.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) presides over session as Senators override Gov. Mike DeWine's veto of Senate Bill 22 on March 26, 2021.
Dan Konik

There are a little over 167 coronavirus cases per 100,000 Ohio residents this week. That’s more than three times Gov. Mike DeWine’s target number to end all health orders such as the mask mandate issued in July.

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