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 Republican state lawmaker has proposed a bill to ban the state from mandating so-called “vaccine passports” that would that provide proof of a COVID vaccination – though there are no plans to institute that.

A gavel commissioned by the Ohio State Bar Association sits outside the Ohio Supreme Court building in downtown Columbus.
Dan Konik

A big change coming to Ohio’s court system starting July 1, as the state takes a step closer to getting rid of cash bail for people being held in jail.

Gov. Mike and First Lady Fran DeWine toured shot clinics in Morgan, Monroe and Vinton Counties on Monday.
@govmikedewine/twitter

COVID vaccines are available to all Ohioans over 16 starting today. But there are still reports of people having problems finding appointments near home. At a shot clinic in Vinton County Monday, the governor said the state may start moving shots around after it gets its next shipment of vaccines Tuesday.

Screenshots of Josh Mandel's first ad, titled "Faith", and Jane Timken's second ad, titled "First".
Screenshots/Youtube

Ohio’s US Senate race is well underway, with both announced Republican candidates on the air with TV ads and some new money pledged toward one possible Democratic candidate.

Ohio National Guard personnel help load food into cars at the Mid-Ohio Food Bank just before Thanksgiving 2020.
Karen Kasler

Critics of the law that will allow state lawmakers to overturn Gov. Mike DeWine’s health orders say that could be costly when it comes to federal funding. Lawmakers overrode DeWine’s veto of that measure this week.

A technician from the Findlay College of Pharmacy fills a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Reynoldsburg in February 2021.
Dan Konik

Ohio will get more than a half a million doses of all three COVID vaccines next week. Gov. Mike DeWine says it’s by far the highest amount the state has received so far.

Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy joined Gov. Mike and Fran DeWine for the first COVID vaccine among Ohio nursing home residents, at the Crown Point Care Center in Columbus in December.
Karen Kasler

There have been more than 6,900 COVID deaths in Ohio nursing homes – 38% of all the deaths in the state. Now Gov. Mike DeWine says he’ll make public a list of nursing homes and assisted living facilities that have not asked for the vaccine or said that their staff and residents have been vaccinated.

A COTA bus passes in front of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.
Karen Kasler

With the March 31 deadline looming, the state transportation budget is a step closer to becoming law. The House is expected to quickly approve the changes the Senate made when passing it last night.

Dan Konik

A federal judge has dismissed Republican Attorney General Dave Yost’s lawsuit against the Biden administration to force the results of last year’s Census to be released by the end of this month. Ohio had hoped to start drawing new legislative and Congressional maps soon, for the first time under a process approved by voters.

Dan Konik

Public health experts are speaking out against the bill that would allow state lawmakers to overturn a governor’s health and emergency orders, and would restrict those orders at the local level too. Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed that bill yesterday, but legislators are set to override it today.

Auditor Keith Faber at a press conference in November 2019
Statehouse News Bureau

Though the information on the Ohio Department of Health coronavirus website has been questioned by critics and even some state lawmakers, the state’s data on COVID cases and deaths is accurate, according to a review from the Republican state auditor.

Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wayne County) addresses a House committee in a photo on his Ohio House member page.
Ohio House

Gov. Mike DeWine has vetoed a bill that would give state lawmakers the power to overturn his health and emergency orders. DeWine’s fellow Republicans in the legislature who support it are standing firm, so it’s almost certainly headed to a veto override and a court fight.

Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David DeVillers points at a chart at the press conference announcing the arrest of then-Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) and others in a $60 million bribery case.
Dan Konik

The chief prosecutor in the cases involving Republican former House Speaker Larry Householder and suspended Democratic Cincinnati City Councilmember PG Sittenfeld is speaking out about the work he did, after stepping down at the request of President Biden last month.

The reCOVer Clinic is housed at the Cleveland Clinic's Independence Family Health Center, though patients can also be seen by specialists at other facilities or remotely via telemedicine.
Cleveland Clinic

Clinics to help people with long-lasting COVID symptoms are being created all over the country, including two in Cleveland.

Kids walk to class in the hallway of Worthington Kilbourne High School. All students will be back in the district's schools for in-person learning starting March 22.
Dan Konik

A bill to change the way Ohio does federally mandated standardized K-12 tests this year is on its way to Gov. Mike DeWine. The bill also has a change to make sure it isn’t a moot point at the end of the school year.

Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) watches the beginning of House session from the back of the chamber the day after a caucus meeting to discuss whether he should be expelled.
Karen Kasler

Former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) was back at work in the Ohio House Wednesday, after his fellow Republicans met the day before to discuss whether he should stay or go as he awaits trial on federal corruption charges.

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

President Biden will travel to Columbus next week to promote the federal COVID relief package that will send $11.2 billion to Ohio and its local governments. But the state’s attorney general went to court today to stop a provision in that $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

The portrait of Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) as Speaker hangs in a hallway of the Statehouse next to that of the late longtime Democratic Speaker Vern Riffe.
Karen Kasler

Ohio’s House Republicans met Tuesday afternoon to discuss what to do about Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), eight months after the former speaker’s arrest on federal corruption charges, and four months after his re-election to his seat, and two months into a term with no committee assignments.

Ohio Secretary of State

The League of Women Voters of Ohio is opposing a lawsuit filed by Ohio against the decision to hold back Census data till September 30 because of the pandemic and concerns about accuracy. But reports the clock is already ticking on starting the process to draw new maps for Ohio’s state House and Senate districts and for the U.S. Congress.

The "Ohio Find It Here" sign welcomes people on the William S. Ritchie Jr. Bridge, also known as the Ravenswood Bridge, on the border with West Virginia.
Karen Kasler

$2.2 billion is coming to Ohio’s 88 counties from the new COVID relief package, and another $2.2 billion will go to 930 Ohio cities and villages. And local leaders of both parties say they need the money.

Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford), in a session of the Ohio House in December 2020.
Dan Konik

Thirteen elected Republicans in one of the counties in the district of former Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) have asked Householder's successor and majority Republicans to remove him from his seat.

mcjeff/shutterstock.com

Experts say a component of the newly signed federal COVID relief package could lift millions of children out of poverty. The American Rescue Plan puts more money in the Child Tax Credit, which now sits at $2,000 for each kid.

Geraldo Rivera was surrounded by protestors and reporters as a protestor confronted him at a demonstration at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016.
Karen Kasler

There may be another entrant into the Republican race for Ohio’s open US Senate seat next year. A controversial figure says he may challenge announced Republican candidates Jane Timken and Josh Mandel.

Students take tests in a classroom in Licking Heights in 2019.
Andy Chow

A bipartisan bill from two Ohio House lawmakers would once again overhaul the state’s report cards on its schools.

Along with individual stimulus checks and more help for the unemployed, there’s a lot of money headed to Ohio and its cities and counties once the latest $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is signed into law.

A sign on a closed cafe in downtown Columbus
Karen Kasler

Over 120,000 claims for traditional unemployment were filed in Ohio in the last week. At least 21,000 are suspected to be fraudulent, bringing the total of claims flagged for fraud to 127,000 in the last month. But it may be a while before it’s known how big the fraud really is, and who can be blamed for it. 

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

Preliminary Ohio budget numbers for last month show tax collections are up across the board. And that could mean a surprising change in plans in how the state will manage the financial damage from the pandemic.

Former House Speaker Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) held an impromptu session with reporters in September, at his first House session after he was indicted in July.
Karen Kasler

The former Ohio House speaker who’s been indicted in a federal corruption case related to the nuclear bailout law he championed has proposed two new bills – both dealing with accountability in government.

Gov. Mike DeWine’s usual Thursday COVID press conference is now a statewide address at 5:30pm. COVID hospitalizations are trending down, but while it’s unknown what DeWine might say, it seems unlike that he’ll announce Ohio will follow other states’ lead on mask mandates.

The Perry Nuclear Power plant in northeast Ohio
Andy Chow

Ohio Senators have unanimously approved a bill that strips out a key provision of the sweeping energy law that’s at the center of a federal corruption scandal.

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