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 fast food restaurant in northeast Columbus has had trouble keeping regular hours because of staffing issues. Opponents of the $300 check program say it kept workers away, but workers say there are many other factors involved.
Karen Kasler

A Franklin County judge has ruled against reinstating the $300 weekly checks for unemployed Ohioans during the pandemic that were discontinued by Gov. Mike DeWine last month. The judge said the law is clear that DeWine wasn’t obligated to continue the program for around 200,000 Ohioans. But the suit isn't over.

A vaccination clinic in Westerville north of Columbus in June
Karen Kasler

Ohio’s COVID numbers are higher than they’ve been in two months, as the number of new vaccinations inches up only slightly.

Supporters of now-former President Trump rioted and breached the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, as Congress was certifying President-elect Joe Biden's 2020 election win.
lev radin/shutterstock.com

Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said he’s talked to Capitol and DC police officers who watched the powerful testimony earlier this week at the U.S. House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol.

A sign on the door of a closed cafe in downtown Columbus
Karen Kasler

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services has 21 days to decide appeals from people who were denied federal pandemic unemployment assistance, according to a ruling from a Franklin County judge.

Former Congressman Jim Renacci, who's also the Medina County Republican Party chair, held a press conference on the Medina County Courthouse steps.
Screenshots/Facebook

Ohio Democrats have been talking up last week’s plea deal from FirstEnergy as proof of Republican corruption in state government. But now Gov. Mike DeWine’s main opponent in next year’s GOP primary is joining in.

Opra/shutterstock.com

A group hoping to regulate marijuana like alcohol in Ohio has changed its legalization plan. It’s now looking at passing a state law rather than a constitutional amendment.

Gov. Mike DeWine takes questions during a press conference on colleges and the state's new anti-hazing law on July 26, 2021.
Dan Konik

Gov. Mike DeWine has made his first public comments since last week’s plea deal from FirstEnergy in the federal corruption case involving the nuclear power plant bailout law known as House Bill 6.

Douglas Sacha, shutterstock

A Franklin County judge is expected to rule in the coming days on a lawsuit that seeks to restore the $300 weekly checks that the federal government was providing to unemployed people through September. Ohio became one of 26 states that ended the program last month.

The Davis-Besse and Perry Nuclear Power Plants, owned by Energy Harbor. The company used to be FirstEnergy Solutions, a subsidiary of FirstEnergy.
Twitter

FirstEnergy will pay $230 million after entering into a deferred prosecution agreement over charges that the company bribed then-House Speaker Larry Householder and former Public Utilities Commission chair Sam Randazzo.

DRC chief inspector Chris Lambert walked reporters through a video that is a compilation of the stationary cameras in the facility that held video of the incidents involving prisons workers and Michael McDaniel on February 6, 2021.
Karen Kasler

Ten prisons workers are named in an investigation into the beating and subsequent death of an inmate at the Correctional Reception Center in Pickaway County in February. Two have quit and eight are facing disciplinary action, and the incident has led to some changes throughout the system.

The 144-foot Giant Slide, a fixture at the Ohio State Fair since 1969, stands empty at this year's fair.
Dan Konik

The Ohio State Fair is open – but there are no rides, no food vendors, no games, and no attendees.

Family members of murder victims, including Marie Delcastro’s grandson Brian Kirk (in yellow shirt) and Margaret Douglas’ niece Cindy Leasure (in white shirt) spoke out against Senate Bill 256 in a small demonstration organized by Kirk in July 2021.
Karen Kasler

A law that took effect this spring puts Ohio in line with US Supreme Court decisions against life sentences without parole for those who kill or commit other violent crimes as juveniles. But the families and victims of some of these underage offenders are angry.

Dan Konik

Last year is likely to have been the deadliest year for drug overdoses ever in Ohio, according to a projection from the CDC.

cards used for SNAP benefits is accepted at a store in Columbus.
Karen Kasler

The idea of “means testing” for Ohioans getting food stamp or SNAP benefits was removed in the final version of the state budget. But advocates for low-income Ohioans and those who cycle in and out of poverty say the idea isn’t dead.

Jair Fonseca/shutterstock.com

Two Democrats are introducing a bill in the Ohio House that would legalize marijuana for personal use beyond the medical use already allowed in law now. It’s the first bill that would set up a structure for the state to regulate and tax it.

Lorenzo Thomas of Columbus, now living in Maui, Hawaii, gets a COVID vaccine at a mass vaccination clinic at the Ohio State University's Schottenstein Center in March 2021.
Dan Konik

With more than 40% of Ohioans unvaccinated against COVID, the Ohio Department of Health is urging people to get those shots. And they say it’s critical with the way the highly contagious delta variant of the disease is spreading.

Former attorney general Betty Montgomery and American Fair Credit Council CEO Denise Dunckel with Sen. Bob Hackett (R-London). The American Fair Credit Council is the national debt settlement companies' association and Montgomery lobbies for them in Ohio.
Karen Kasler

A new bill in the Ohio Senate would allow for debt settlement companies to operate in Ohio. The sponsor says it’s about consumer choice, but opponents says that choice isn’t a good one.

Mayor Nan Whaley (D-Dayton) speaks to reporters after the US Conference of Mayors luncheon, flanked by Mayor Andrew Ginther (D-Columbus, left) and Mayor Tito Brown (D-Youngstown).
Karen Kasler

Hundreds of mayors from around the country from both parties have signed onto the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan being pushed by President Biden. The announcement was made in Columbus, as the new president of the group representing mayors of the country’s largest cities takes over.

Karen Kasler

The new two-year Ohio budget includes a plan for the state to directly fund charter schools, and gives more money for taxpayer-paid vouchers for kids to go to non-public schools. With the budget in place, voucher opponents say they’re preparing to file a lawsuit that’s been months in the making.

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) speaks on the House floor on June 28 in a tribute to departing Rep. Erica Crawley a few hours before the vote on the budget.
screenshot/Ohio Channel

The new two-year state budget includes a 3% income tax cut, a new school funding plan and hundreds of millions of dollars for broadband, foster care, foodbanks and grants for businesses hurt by the pandemic. While the Republican-backed budget also included things that Democrats didn’t like, many of them voted for it.

Office of Budget and Management Director Kim Murnieks watches as Gov. Mike DeWine (center)  speaks at the press conference announcing he'd signed the budget and vetoed 14 items. Joining him was Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and House Finance Chair Scott Oelslager.
Dan Konik

The new state budget sets aside $250 million for broadband programs – that’s a restoration of what Gov. Mike DeWine had initially proposed, which the House reduced and the Senate totally eliminated. But DeWine thinks the resolution is a good one.

Gov. Mike DeWine gestures during the press conference on July 1, 2021, after he signed the state budget hours before.
Dan Konik

Gov. Mike DeWine says he’s still weighing his options on what to do with a bill that includes a provision that bans public schools and colleges from requiring employees and students get COVID vaccines.

Ohio National Guard personnel who helped with distributing food throughout central Ohio during the pandemic get a "clap out" from volunteers and employees at the decommissioning program.
Karen Kasler

Last spring, Ohio was the first state to deploy its national guard to help with what became a critical element of the pandemic: getting emergency food to people in need who were locked down at home, including those who’d been unemployed and many suddenly out of work. The people dispatched to help are now off that job.

Ohio Superintendent of State Instruction Paolo DeMaria, speaking at a press conference on college attainment in 2018.
Karen Kasler

For the first time in five years, Ohio will be looking for a new state schools superintendent, now that longtime Department of Education veteran Paolo DeMaria will be stepping down from that post this fall.

A still of a video taken inside Barley House in Cleveland by the Ohio Investigative Unit in November. The bar's liquor license was revoked in January after several COVID citations.
Ohio Investigative Unit video

One of Gov. Mike DeWine’s 14 vetoes struck a provision of the state budget that got a lot of early attention – the erasing of COVID-19 violations by bars and the refunding of the fines they paid.

Dan Konik

Nearly two hours past the midnight deadline, Gov. Mike DeWine put out a statement saying he signed the two-year, $75 billion state budget – while striking out 14 items. Most of the vetoes were technical and specific, but others were more notable.

The empty Ohio Senate chamber
Dan Konik

The 3% across the board income tax cut in the state budget, along with other tax changes, won’t do much for people making less than $110,000 a year, according to an analysis by a liberal leaning think tank.

Students at Worthington Kilbourne High School came back to class in March, with COVID protocols in place.
Dan Konik

Groups representing Ohio school districts, teachers and education officials are pleased the final state budget includes what’s been called the Fair School Funding plan, an overhaul of the formula by which Ohio calculates state aid to schools.

The budget conference committee unveiled the spending document on Monday afternoon - complete with a few trays of baked goods. The six-member committee and their aides and staff went through the changes after weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations.
Karen Kasler

The two-year $75 billion state budget is awaiting Gov. Mike DeWine’s signature before the fiscal year expires tomorrow. The budget process was led by Republicans, from DeWine’s initial proposal through the House and Senate, which are dominated by the GOP. But a lot of Democrats ended up supporting the final product.

Karen Kasler

With a little over a day till the deadline on Wednesday, the new two-year $75 billion state budget is on its way to Gov. Mike DeWine after overwhelmingly bipartisan votes in the House and Senate late Monday evening.

Pages