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.

Sen. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) offers proponent testimony on the version of the so-called “Heartbeat Bill” abortion ban she’s sponsoring in the Senate.
Karen Kasler

Almost eight years to the day that it was first proposed, the so-called Heartbeat Bill six-week abortion ban has been introduced at the Statehouse again. And this time it appears to be starting in the Senate.

ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks testifies to the House Finance Committee.
Andy Chow

Ohio’s top transportation official told state lawmakers that drivers could face serious dangers on roads and bridges. His testimony comes in advance of a report expected Friday that’s likely to recommend a gas tax increase.

Sen. Steve Wilson (R-Maineville) shakes hands with Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights) as Rod and Jennifer Blough of Dublin look on. Rod has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and Lewy body dementia and Jennifer is his caregiver.
Karen Kasler

Two state senators say Ohio needs to join all other states in developing a comprehensive plan to deal with rising numbers of residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia that are likely in the next few decades.


State income tax collections have been down for the last two months, leading some to wonder whether Ohio will end the fiscal year with a surplus – or in the red.

Karen Kasler

For the first time, the Secretary of State will send voter registration forms to hundreds of thousands of Ohioans who were removed from the voting rolls for not voting or updating their addresses with county boards of elections. And while it’s not expected many will be filled out and returned, one voting rights group says it’s a positive move.

The Botanist in Wickliffe is the fifth medical marijuana dispensary to open in Ohio. It started operations on Wednesday.
Adrian Ma, WCPN

As a fifth dispensary begins operations and a sixth will soon open, the state is starting to learn more about the patients who are seeking medical marijuana to treat any of 21 qualifying conditions.

ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks reports on his agency’s financial condition before the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure.
Karen Kasler

After just two hearings and two hours of public testimony, the panel appointed to recommend solutions to the funding crisis at ODOT is leaning toward one conclusion – the gas tax should be increased.

ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks presents his agency's case to the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Transportation Infrastructure.
Karen Kasler

The road ahead is rough for the Ohio Department of Transportation, according to the agency’s director.

A train on RTA's Waterfront Line in downtown Cleveland stops in 2012.
Cleveland RTA/Facebook

Advocates for public transportation say they’re concerned that there’s no one from that sector on Gov. Mike DeWine’s committee that will recommend how to find money for major road construction projects. That group meets this week. But public transit might not be top of mind for the Ohio House leader either.

Karen Kasler

A new policy is starting today at the state’s purchasing agency – which investigations show wasn’t following its own rules in awarding some no-bid contracts to outside consultants.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) kicked off his "Dignity of Work" tour of key presidential primary and caucus states Wednesday night in Brunswick, OH.
Nick Castele

Ohio’s senior US Senator has launched a tour of key presidential primary and caucus states, but says he hasn’t yet decided if he’ll seek the Democratic nomination in 2020.  But three campaign experts in Ohio have thoughts on Sherrod Brown’s “Dignity of Work” tour.

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

The 15-member committee that will make recommendations on how to fix the lack of funding for major road construction will meet soon.  But there’s one group of advocates who feel they’ve been left out of the process.

Karen Kasler

The money to pay for ODOT's big road construction projects has run out. So Gov. Mike DeWine has put together a panel to make recommendations on where to find more money - and he wants them to work fast.

Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) is the Ohio House Democrats' first new leader in five years.
Daniel Konik/Gabe Kramer

The election of a third Ohio House Speaker in less than a year caused a shakeup among the minority party as well, and a three-term representative from Akron with a family history in politics has been picked to lead the caucus.


An office that inspects and reports on conditions, trends and violence in Ohio’s 27 adult prisons and three juvenile facilities is down to one staffer, and its work is being done largely by college interns. The office’s former director says she’s worried that trouble which should have been foreseen is on the horizon.

The Ohio Parole Board met to hear the clemency case of convicted killer and death row inmate Ronald Phillips in December 2016. Sen. Shirley Smith is second from right.
Karen Kasler

A former state senator has left the Ohio Parole Board, saying there are serious problems with how the prisons system is operated.

Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), when she was first sworn in to the House in 2014.
Ohio House

The election of Republican Speaker Larry Householder caused a shakeup among Ohio House Democrats as well. They’ve now picked new leadership, and for the first time women make up a majority of that team.

Daniel Konik

Around 7,000 federal workers in Ohio aren’t receiving paychecks because of the government shutdown. And none of them will be offered unemployment checks from the state either.

Mackenzie Lewis, Adonia Belqis, Jaxson Edwards and Quinica Garrett won their divisions in the state's annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. oratory contest.
Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission - Facebook

The winners of this year's state oratory contest got a bit political in their speeches, referencing the Flint water crisis, police-involved shootings and NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem.

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.