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.

The JACK Cleveland casino, one of Ohio's four casinos that will be permitted to have sports betting under the Senate bill.
Karen Kasler

The sports gambling bill that passed overwhelmingly in the Ohio Senate this week is already running into problems. The language in it could potentially lock out some of the entities that hoped to control sports gambling in the first place.

Karen Kasler

The state budget process began during the pandemic, when schools and businesses were closed, unemployment numbers were at double digits, and terrifying predictions of death tolls were circulating. A year later, the state and Ohioans are flush with federal COVID relief money, so the budget picture has changed a lot.

Former Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) talks to reporters after the House voted to expel him.
Karen Kasler

In a historic vote, the Ohio House has removed a former Speaker who was re-elected to his seat last fall, after he was arrested in what's considered the largest bribery case ever in Ohio government.

A view of the interior of the JACK Cleveland casino
Karen Kasler

The Ohio Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill legalizing sports gambling, overseen by the Casino Control Commission. The House will now consider the bill, but has wanted the Ohio Lottery to control sports betting.

In their version of the state budget, Ohio Senate Republicans erased money that had been earmarked for broadband programs. But they also added a provision that would ban local communities from doing their own broadband programs.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) speaks to reporters at a press conference unveiling the Senate's version of the two-year state budget.
Karen Kasler

Republicans in the Senate have added to their budget a provision that could directly affect the upcoming process to draw new maps for a 15-member Congressional delegation – down from 16 – and the Ohio House and Senate.

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

Groups representing Ohio’s school boards, school administrators and school financial officials are raising serious concerns about the Senate’s version of the budget, which blew up the $1.8 billion school funding formula overhaul in the House budget.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost at a press conference announcing the settlement with Centene.
Karen Kasler

Ohio has settled a lawsuit filed just three months ago with a pharmacy benefits manager it accused of using subcontractors to overcharge Ohio’s Medicaid program.

Empty desks in a classroom in a central Ohio elementary school
Karen Kasler

It’s been a momentous six months for school funding in Ohio, after decades of debate over how to most fairly fund the state’s more than 600 public school districts. A plan crafted by a group of legislators and school finance experts addressed inequities that plague the current funding formula. But the state House and Senate disagree on the approach--and cost is at the root of it.

The Ohio Statehouse, as seen from the Huntington Building on High Street.
Karen Kasler

The proposed budget from Republican leaders in the Ohio Senate includes a 5% income tax cut estimated to cost the state $874 million over two years. But a new analysis of that tax cut says most Ohioans won’t even notice the change.

The Hilliard branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library
Columbus Metropolitan Library

Advocates for Ohio’s libraries are cheering the Senate version of the state budget, which restores funding that was set to drop when the current budget expires on June 30.

A map showing broadband access in Ohio

There are $1.3 billion in tax cuts in the Senate version of the budget, which Republican Senate leaders say are paid for with spending cuts. Among them is the elimination of $190 million for grants for broadband expansion that’s in the House’s budget.

A battle is coming over the school funding formula overhaul introduced in the Senate’s version of the budget yesterday – which blows up the one proposed in the House that school groups and education advocates supported.

A Step Up To Quality sign on a child care provider in northern Columbus.
Karen Kasler

In introducing their version of the two-year state budget, Republican Senate leaders highlighted three areas – a 5% income tax cut, an overhaul of school funding and a big change to child care in Ohio.

Ohio Senate Finance Committee chair Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) explains a chart showing the Senate budget's formula for calculating per-student aid.
Karen Kasler

Republican Senators have unveiled their rewrite of the school funding overhaul in the House budget, which spends less per student but will be more expensive. But Senators say it’s more sustainable and reliable for the future.

Han maomin, shutterstock

For the second time in less than a year, Ohio lawmakers are considering a bill to ban transgender girls from girls’ sports.

In the weeks following George Floyd's killing in May 2020, signs referencing racism and public policy were posted on the fencing surrounding the White House, facing the part of 16th Street NW that was renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.
Karen Kasler

Ohio has joined the list of around a dozen states where Republican lawmakers are attempting to ban schools from teaching critical race theory, a concept that’s been around for more than 40 years as a way to examine race and inequality as a systemic problem in American society.

A sign in front of a central Ohio gun store in April 2020, indicating it was open but its gun ranges were closed.
Dan Konik

Ohio lawmakers will once again consider a bill to guarantee that state and local governments can’t seize guns or close gun stores or ranges during declared emergencies.  This new version comes as Ohio has seen three mass shootings in three days.

Karen Kasler

Just as the first of five drawings for a million dollars and for a college scholarship is taking place on Monday, a Republican state representative who’s been critical of Gov. Mike DeWine’s mask mandate and COVID shutdowns has sponsored a bill to ban the Vax-A-Million shot lottery. 

Voters drive up to ballot drop boxes set up in the parking lot of the Franklin County Board of Elections on October 24, 2020.
Karen Kasler

A Republican-backed bill that would allow ballot dropboxes only at boards of elections for 10 days before the election and would shorten the window to request early ballots got its first hearing in a House committee.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) speaks to reporters at a press conference after Senate session on May 19, 2021.
Karen Kasler

A federal appeals court has sided with Ohio’s attorney general in his lawsuit to get US Census data earlier than expected to draw maps for Ohio's Congressional and state House and Senate districts. But the leader of the Ohio Senate says at this point, he’s not sure it will make a difference in drawing one set of new maps.


The Senate has okayed a bipartisan bill that allows nursing home and long-term care facility residents and their families to install cameras in their rooms to prevent abuse and neglect.

The Justice Center in Cleveland, the complex which houses the Cuyahoga County jail.
Karen Kasler

A bipartisan group of lawmakers launched another effort to overhaul the state’s bail system, which has been talked about for years and is backed by conservative and liberal groups.

A close up of a restraint on the bed used for executions at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Statehouse News Bureau

Faith leaders are urging lawmakers to consider two bills to repeal the death penalty in Ohio, a state that used to be a leader in capital punishment but has now gone more than three years without an execution under Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH).

Karen Kasler

The state of Ohio overpaid more than $2 billion in unemployment benefits to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans during the pandemic. And a significant percentage of that money went to fraud.

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.