Karen Kasler

Ohio Public Radio and TV Statehouse Bureau Chief

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets.  She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.

Karen is a graduate of Otterbein College, and earned her Master’s as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Program for Mid-Career Journalists at The Ohio State University. Karen has been honored by the Associated Press, the Association of Capitol Editors and Reporters, the Cleveland Press Club/Society of Professional Journalists, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences/Ohio Valley Emmys, and holds a National Headliner Award. 

Ways to Connect

photo of maureen corcoran
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The director of Ohio Medicaid says her agency is dealing with big problems and could face huge fines from the federal government if they’re not fixed. And she’s pointing to the administration of former Gov. John Kasich for creating and not handling those mistakes. 

The memo is scathing. Medicaid director Maureen Corcoran uses words such as “inadequate”, “unacceptable”, “poorly implemented” and a “mess” to describe what she inherited after being appointed by former Gov. John Kasich’s fellow Republican and successor Mike DeWine.

photo of Ben Carson and Sonya Thesing
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development visited Columbus to announce new money to combat homelessness across the country – the day after a new report showed a slight increase in Ohio’s homeless population.   

a photo of Husted and DeWine
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Gov. Mike DeWine has signed a second workforce-related bill in as many days. This one allows his Office of Workforce Transformation to create a one-stop shop for credentials and certificate programs that can be earned by workers and recognized by employers.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted directs the Office of Workforce Transformation, and says this will help businesses fill open positions and help people find training to get those jobs.

Deadly drug overdoses in Ohio fell nearly 22 percent in 2018, to the lowest number in three years. And overdose deaths dropped in every category of drugs except one.

a photo of a correctional facility in southern Ohio
DAN KONIK / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

There hasn’t been a killer put to death in Ohio in 18 months. And the state’s last execution has likely taken place, according to the architect of Ohio’s 1981 death penalty law. But prosecutors said killing off capital punishment entirely would be a mistake.

a photo of one dollar bills
AGROSS96 / CREATIVE COMMONS

A new national report shows once again, Ohio is in the middle of the pack of all 50 states on taxes, spending and other areas that have an impact on policy – except one.

a photo of a Trump campaign rally in 2016
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

President Trump visits Toledo Thursday for the first campaign visit of this election year. And the location, timing and message of this rally could be a preview of his re-election strategy.

Trump won Ohio by eight points in 2016, winning all but eight counties. Trump’s last Ohio visit was in September, when he told workers at a recycled paper plant in Wapakoneta that he won by fighting for Ohio jobs and Ohio workers.

photo of the bill's cosponsors
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

An influential gun rights group says it’s opposing a bill that would make changes in Ohio’s gun and mental health laws. The leader of the Ohio House had pointed to that bill as an alternative to Gov. Mike DeWine’s anti-gun violence package – a proposal that is likely to be opposed by some Republicans.

The Buckeye Firearms Association lists several problems with the bill from Phil Plummer (R-Dayton) and D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) – the biggest, that it would add substance abuse as a reason a person could be involuntarily hospitalized in a psychiatric facility.

photo of Fuyao showroom
JERRY KENNEY / WYSO

A hundred new jobs and $46 million in new investment is coming to the world’s largest auto glass manufacturing plant – located near Dayton. The Chinese company moved into what was a GM plant in Moraine.

Fuyao has invested $600 million into the plant since 2014, six years after GM shut it down and 2,000 workers lost their jobs. Gov. Mike DeWine said these 100 new employees will join the 2,300 workers at Fuyao.  And he’s hoping for more.

photo of a political map of ohio
OHIO SECRETARY OF STATE

The 2020 presidential election could end up being a critical one not just to the winner and his or her supporters, but also to Ohio. Buckeye state voters have picked the winning candidate in each presidential contest since 1960 – and no Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio.  The question is whether the state will do it again.

a photo of Senator Rob Portman at a Right to Life rally
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senator and most of its Republican Congressional delegation have signed onto a court document that could lead to the overturning of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion.

A photo of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio’s governor is pushing back on the Trump administration over a key issue – accepting refugees. 

Gov. Mike DeWine said in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Ohio has a long history of welcoming and assimilating refugees, and will continue to do that through a “well-developed support network, primarily lead by our faith-based communities”. 

Ohio Statehouse
CARTER ADAMS / WKSU

The battle over the energy law that starts providing subsidies to Ohio’s two nuclear power plants in 2021 might not be over. The Ohio Supreme Court agreed to decide whether opponents of the law can take it to voters.

a photo of the Otterbein democratic debate stage
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Wednesday was the deadline for filing for Ohio’s March 17 primary ballot. And 14 candidates have filed for the Democratic primary. There will also be a Republican challenger to President Donald Trump on that ballot.

The first of the field of Democratic presidential candidates to file was Amy Klobuchar last month.  Since then, Tom Steyer, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, Julian Castro, Joe Biden, Deval Patrick, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Cory Booker, Michael Bloomberg, and John Delaney have filed. Only Marianne Williamson didn’t file.

a photo of a school hallway
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A Democratic lawmakers and longtime critic of private school vouchers says she’s not convinced there’s time to do a short-term fix to a huge expansion of the state’s largest voucher program.

a photo of Mike DeWine
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Governor Mike DeWine is still not talking about how he feels about impeachment proceedings against his fellow Republican, President Donald Trump.

DeWine was a Senator during the impeachment trial of President Clinton. DeWine said in September that he wanted to wait to see the evidence against Trump. He now said that it’s up to members of the House and Senate to decide on those two articles of impeachment.

“I’m not following it every day. I mean, I see it in the paper, I hear your reports. But my focus is on Ohio.”

Photo of Dave Yost
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A constitutional amendment backed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost to set up a way to distribute opioid settlement money through a statewide foundation won’t go before voters in March. That’s according to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House, who would have to approve the proposal by next week.

Democratic House Leader Emilia Sykes said taking away lawmakers’ role in appropriating money is problematic, but she says local communities filed these opioid lawsuits because the AG didn’t.

photo of empty desk
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio’s public schools could lose millions of dollars to private schools through an expansion of the state’s biggest voucher program. New rules on criteria for the EdChoice program have increased the number of school buildings considered "failing" by more than 400 percent.

The dam at Buckeye Lake undergoes repairs in March of 2015.
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Just over a year ago, the $100 million project to repair the crumbling earthen dam at Buckeye Lake was finished two years early.  But the state is looking at dozens of the 1,420 dams in Ohio that could be failing.

The state says 124 dams are in poor or unsatisfactory condition. ODNR Director Mary Mertz says her agency is working its way through the list, but there aren’t any emergencies like Buckeye Lake’s dam on it.

“No, not that I’m concerned about that we’re going to wake up tomorrow and see a big dam breach.”

KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BEAURU

State Senators considering one of two bills to ban local bans on plastic bags heard from around 40 opponents, who either came to a committee hearing or sent in written testimony. They were speaking out against a bill that’s similar to one that passed the House this summer. 

There were local officials talking home rule, including Ben Kessler, the mayor of Bexley, one of three communities with bans on plastic bags.

KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BEAURU

Gov. Mike DeWine says he wants to make it easier and quicker for people who have long-ago criminal convictions to be considered for pardons. It’s another part of his recent moves to make changes to Ohio’s parole and post-release system.

DeWine says he often sees pardon applications for murderers, rapists and other offenders.

"They got a snowball's chance in hell of getting granted, some of them," DeWine said. "And so they're kind of clogging the system, and the people who really should be applying aren’t applying."

KAREN KASLER / Statehouse News Bureau

State lawmakers are looking at a bill that would hike the penalties for passing a school bus as it’s picking up or dropping off kids. 

Audrey Napier’s 11-year-old granddaughter, Lizzie Robertson-Rutland, was run down and killed while walking to her school bus in Columbus one early morning in September.

“We don’t want any other family to have to go through what we are dealing with right now. It’s very hard for us,” said Napier. “It’s a very emotional time for us. And we support this bill because we want our children to be safe.”

Representative Stephanie Howse
Jo Ingles / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

An Ohio lawmaker, who went to El Salvador recently on a fact-finding mission, says her experience there is strengthening her resolve to fight abortion bans here at home. 

Democratic Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) says she visited women serving time behind bars in El Salvador for miscarriages rather than deliberate abortions.

Death penalty vigil.
Statehouse News Bureau

Opponents of the death penalty say they are concerned about a newly proposed abortion ban that could charge a woman who gets an abortion, and a doctor who provides it, with a capital crime. It would make abortion punishable by life in prison without the possibility of parole, or death. 

Holiday Shoppers walk in the Easton Town Center, Columbus Ohio.
KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio’s more than 7,000 retailers are expecting a slight increase in sales this holiday season over last year, though where those spending increases are projected may be a surprise.

The Ohio Council of Retail Merchants is predicting $25.3 billion will be spent this holiday season, a .8 percent increase over last year and lower than the national spending forecast. Megan Heare is with the University of Cincinnati Economics Center, which did the research.

Pages