Karen Kasler (Ohio Public Radio)

Karen Kasler is a lifelong Ohioan with a passion for broadcast reporting. She left her hometown of Lancaster for Otterbein College. As News Director at WCBE in Columbus in the 90s, she covered a variety of events, including the local impact of the Gulf War, the financial problems of the Columbus Public Schools and the trouble-ridden Ameriflora exhibition in 1992.

Karen was selected as a Fellow in the Kiplinger Master's Program for Mid-Career Journalists at The Ohio State University in 1994. After a brief stint at WBNS-TV in Columbus, she moved to Cleveland and became the afternoon drive anchor and assignment editor for WTAM-AM. 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, the "Coingate" scandal and the resignation of former Attorney General Marc Dann. She's also produced features on "green" business, STEM education, campaign ads, the elimination of the state's anti-smoking agency and a demolition derby involving farm equipment.

Each year she anchors the Bureau's live coverage of the governor's State of the State. She was a panelist for the gubernatorial and the US Senate debates in 2006 and the Attorney General's race in 2008, and has also been interviewed by NPR, by the BBC and by Brian Williams for NBC's "Nightly News".

Karen has 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 was nominated for an Emmy in 2006 for hosting "The State of Ohio". She's currently the president-elect of the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters.

Karen joined the Bureau in March 2004. She’s reported for NPR, Marketplace and the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, and is a frequent guest on ONN’s “Capitol Square” , WVIZ’s “Ideas” and WOSU-TV’s “Columbus on the Record”.

Karen is also an adjunct professor at Capital University in Columbus. Karen, her husband and their son Jack live on Columbus' northeast side.

A conservative group wants the Ohio Supreme Court to decide whether Gov. John Kasich and the legislature illegally expanded gambling in Ohio by allowing Ohio’s seven horseracing tracks to become “racinos” with the installation of electronic slot machines. 

But before a group of racino opponents can make the argument against the video slots, there’s the issue of whether the group has the authority to file the lawsuit in the first place. The group’s lawyer Tom Connors says it does.

Lawmakers scrapped Gov. Kasich's proposal that would have given schools less money.
User Thoth188 / Flickr/Creative Commons

The state’s election chief is warning Ohio voters there may be confusion ahead in November, though no issues have officially made the fall ballot yet.

 

The ResponsibleOhio marijuana legalization amendment could be on the ballot at the same time as a measure that would prohibit businesses from creating amendments that give them economic benefits - just like the amendment from ResponsibleOhio does. Secretary of State Jon Husted says if what’s being called “the anti-monopoly” amendment gets more votes, it will negate the marijuana initiative.

Lawmakers scrapped Gov. Kasich's proposal that would have given schools less money.
User Thoth188 / Flickr/Creative Commons

Senators have passed their version of the two year state budget. The $71.3 billion spending plan now goes to a conference committee to work out differences with the House version.

The sweeping proposal would increase Ohio's tobacco taxes, boost higher-education funding and eliminate state taxes for certain small business income.

traffic camera red light camera
Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr/Creative Commons

One provision that’s likely to stay in the final version of the state budget being worked on now is a proposal to deduct state money from cities still using traffic cameras. Officials in those affected cities are frustrated by the move. 

Traffic cameras are a topic that revs up contentious debate for Republicans and Democrats.  But last year, camera opponents prevailed and this March, a law took effect requiring cities to station police officers with cameras to observe violations. Cities say those cameras are important safety tools, and they sued.

Woman spend up to $200 a year on taxes for feminine hygiene products.
Flickr Creative Commons

Republican Senators have made dozens of changes to the budget they unveiled last week, with a final vote by the full Senate likely Wednesday.

Senators eliminated language that would have banned using state money on any projects that require specific agreements negotiated with unions – that ban had angered Democrats. But state agencies would have to hold public hearings when so-called Project Labor Agreements are involved. 

State Auditor Dave Yost says charter school padded attendance.
Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

  A special audit has found that a now-closed Ohio charter school padded its rolls by nearly half, and that may have brought it $1.1 million in tax dollars it shouldn’t have received. State Auditor David Yost says that General Chappie James Leadership Academy near Dayton reported having 459 students in attendance, but only 239 students could be documented.

An online charter school in Ohio has been cleared of allegations lodged in an anonymous email that it failed to withdraw hundreds of chronically truant students to pad its rolls. 

Lawmakers scrapped Gov. Kasich's proposal that would have given schools less money.
User Thoth188 / Flickr/Creative Commons

The State Senate has released its version of Ohio's budget. The chamber plans to send $71.3 billion over two years, which is about one billion less than both the House and Gov. John Kasich's proposed spending plans. 

Senate President Keith Faber of Celina is happy with his caucus’ proposal – which he says has a smaller bottom line than the previous two budget plans. Tax cuts are the big feature in the proposal.  

“We are continuing today to build on our commitment to fund what matters and return to the taxpayers what’s not essential,” Faber said.

As lawmakers talk about changing the process by which groups with economic interests in changing the constitution can bring amendments to voters, one of those groups is planning another amendment that hits back at those legislators.

The ResponsibleOhio amendment would legalize marijuana in Ohio and specify ten growing sites. Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, both Republicans, say they want to make it harder for groups to put before voters amendments which have a benefit for them.

Lawmakers scrapped Gov. Kasich's proposal that would have given schools less money.
User Thoth188 / Flickr/Creative Commons

State lawmakers seem to be moving closer to changing the process by which citizen activists – including business owners – can put constitutional amendments before voters.

Republican Senate President Keith Faber of Celina said the worries about the constitution being too easy to change go back to long before the latest proposal that would put the legalization of marijuana, along with 10 growing sites, before voters.

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