Ryland Barton

Ryland is the state capitol reporter for the Kentucky Public Radio Network, a group of public radio stations including WKU Public Radio. A native of Lexington, Ryland has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. 

Always looking to put a face to big issues, Ryland's reporting has taken him to drought-weary towns in West Texas and relocated communities in rural China. He's covered breaking news like the 2014 shooting at Fort Hood Army Base and the aftermath of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas. 

Ryland has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

When the woman who would become known as Jane Doe started working for the Kentucky House Republican caucus in 2015, she remembers a senior staffer saying her responsibility was “to keep Jeff Hoover happy.”

At the time, the woman was 21. Ky. Representative Jeff Hoover of Jamestown was the leader of the Republican minority in the state House of Representatives. Within two years, Hoover would become the first Republican speaker of the House in nearly a century.


Leaders of the Kentucky legislature have formed a new group tasked with reviewing and analyzing the state’s pension systems, which are underfunded and have been the subject of controversial reform attempts in recent years.

 Republican lawmakers in the Kentucky legislature are advancing an abortion restriction that opponents worry could upend the landmark Roe v. Wade court ruling that legalized abortion more than four decades ago.

Senate Bill 9 would make it a felony for doctors to perform an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which takes place as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.

A bipartisan group of Kentucky lawmakers has proposed a medical marijuana bill that would allow people to buy the drug from licensed dispensaries if a doctor recommends it.

Medical marijuana legislation has been discussed in recent years, but has never gained enough momentum to pass the preliminary stages of the Kentucky legislature.

Rep. Jason Nemes, a Republican from Louisville and one of the bill’s sponsors, said that a majority of the 100-member House support the bill.

matt bevin
Timothy D. Easley / AP

A new state lawmaker from eastern Kentucky has become the first Republican to formally launch a campaign for governor as speculation continues over whether Gov. Matt Bevin will run for re-election.

Former State Auditor Adam Edelen is the third Democrat to launch a bid for Kentucky governor.

During an announcement in Lexington, Edelen said as governor he would focus on fixing the state’s public education system, protecting health coverage and generating new revenue for the state’s cash-strapped budget.

Edelen depicted himself as a new direction for Kentucky Democrats, saying that he is an alternative to “the stale scent of incrementalism and nostalgia.”

An eastern Kentucky lawmaker has filed a bill that would ban women from receiving abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which takes place as early as the sixth week of pregnancy.

Louisville Democratic Rep. Attica Scott has filed a pair of bills for the upcoming legislative session that would eliminate the sales tax on menstrual products and baby supplies.

The proposed exemptions would remove the 6 percent sales tax on tampons, panty liners and other menstrual products as well as diapers, breast pumps and baby bottles.

Scott said the proposals would help poor Kentuckians by eliminating a tax on essential items.

hemp
Pixabay

Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles immediately applied for federal approval of Kentucky's hemp program after the 2018 farm bill was signed into law Thursday afternoon, effectively legalizing the crop.

matt bevin
Adam Beam / AP

Gov. Matt Bevin’s approval rating is at an all-time low, according to a new poll conducted in Kentucky last week.

A little less than 24 hours after Gov. Matt Bevin summoned lawmakers to Frankfort to make changes to the state’s pension systems, the legislature voted to end the special session.

After Gov. Matt Bevin called a surprise legislative session on Monday afternoon, state lawmakers traveled to Frankfort and began working on a new attempt to overhaul the state’s pension systems.

Ryland Barton / WFPL

In a major blow to Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration and the Republican-led legislature, the Supreme Court of Kentucky has upheld a ruling that struck down changes to the state’s pension system that passed into law earlier this year.

andy beshear governor
Adam Beam / AP

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear says he will donate more than $14,000 from his 2015 campaign account to compensate for contributions associated with a former top aide who admitted to taking bribes.

graduation
Pixabay

The Kentucky Board of Education has approved new high school graduation requirements, mandating students demonstrate competency in basic math and reading, and complete benchmarks intended to show they are ready for work or college before they can graduate.

Republican leaders of the Kentucky legislature say they will consider passing another bill dealing with state workers’ retirement benefits if the state Supreme Court strikes down the controversial pension bill that drew thousands of protesters to Frankfort earlier this year.

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Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis has revised his proposal for high schoolers to demonstrate they’re ready to graduate.

Flickr

The head of Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and two Republican state lawmakers say the legislature needs to make changes to the state’s criminal code to address the state’s surging prison population.

Teachers and education advocates voiced concern about proposed changes to high school graduation requirements during a public hearing on Thursday.

Under the proposal, which received initial approval last month, students will be required to pass basic reading and math exit exams before they can graduate, and prove they are “transition ready” by getting on-the-job experience, passing college entry exams or passing college-level courses.

A Democratic state representative has filed legislation that would create an explicit ban on sexual harassment in the statehouse and a process to handle complaints.

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