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.

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The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments over the state’s new pension law on Thursday, months after teachers and other government workers descended on Frankfort to protest changes to retirement benefits.

Alison Lundergan Grimes
Timothy D. Easley / AP

An ethics panel issued an advisory opinion saying that Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes can’t run for statewide office and serve as the chair of the bipartisan board that oversees elections.

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Timothy D. Easley / AP

Gov. Matt Bevin romanticized the harsh labor practice of indentured servitude during an event promoting Kentucky’s apprenticeship program to business leaders on Monday.

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J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin says former University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino is blaming everyone but himself for recent scandals at the university that led to his firing last year.

Alison Lundergan Grimes
Timothy D. Easley / AP

The executive director of the Kentucky State Board of Elections is accusing Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of improperly accessing the state’s voter registration system, creating a hostile work environment and using her position to politicize the election system.

In a legislative committee hearing on Monday, Kentucky health officials outlined the daunting task of trying to find permanent homes for children in the state’s adoption and foster care system, as a law that seeks to reform the system begins to roll out.

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Timothy D. Easley / AP

Gov. Matt Bevin has appealed the ruling that struck down changes to the state’s pension systems. The Kentucky Supreme Court will hear the case on Sept 20.

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Republican leaders of the state House of Representatives have asked a top official from former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration to answer questions about Kentucky Wired, a statewide broadband project that has racked up more than $180 million in costs associated with delays.

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Rand Paul was in Russia on Monday and invited Russian officials to meet with members of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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Timothy D. Easley / AP

Gov. Matt Bevin didn’t show up to the state’s premiere political speaking event in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, last weekend. His absence came as his favorability rating hit a new low and rumors swirl over whether he will seek re-election next year. Meanwhile, Kentucky Democrats are trying to claw their way back into power, but are at a historic low point of registered voters and elected offices in the state. 

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Timothy D. Easley / AP

The annual Fancy Farm political speaking event takes place this weekend, signaling the unofficial kickoff of the fall election season in Kentucky. 

Kyeland Jackson / WFPL

In another shakeup of Kentucky’s education leadership, the state board of education has elected charter schools advocate Hal Heiner to be its chairman.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Sen. Rand Paul is throwing his support behind President Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, after initially saying he wasn’t sure he would vote to confirm the nominee.

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J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Rand Paul could represent the deciding vote on whether to confirm President Trump’s recent nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh.

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The head of Kentucky’s bourbon association says he’s worried that a drawn-out trade war could slow down growth of the state’s signature distilling industry.

Kentucky bourbon is in the crosshairs of retaliatory tariffs from the European Union, Mexico and Canada after President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from those countries.

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More than 2,000 Kentuckians will have to pay more to receive Medicaid benefits that help them avoid nursing homes. The news comes after state officials said they’ve been charging the incorrect amount for over half a decade.

Stephen Lance Dennee / AP

Experts told Kentucky lawmakers that gun violence needs to be addressed as a public health crisis, advising that they consider legislation that would require gun owners to lock up their firearms.

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PBS / Screen grab

Amid widespread criticism over President Trump’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sen. Rand Paul has rushed to the president’s defense, saying that his detractors are "deranged."

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

Rand Paul applauded President Trump for meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, days after 12 Russian officials were indicted for allegedly hacking the Democratic National Committee.

Ryland Barton / WFPL

A judge has denied Gov. Matt Bevin’s request to reconsider a ruling that struck down changes to Kentucky’s pension system, which were originally set to go into effect this weekend.

Drivers will need to maintain a three-foot buffer when they pass bicyclists, health educators will be required to teach sex abstinence in public schools and sweeping changes to Kentucky’s adoption and foster care system are all included in new state laws that go into effect on Saturday.

New laws take effect 90 days after the state legislature adjourns unless they have a special effective date or have an emergency clause — which would make them effective immediately.

andy beshear governor
Adam Beam / AP

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is trying to capitalize on Gov. Matt Bevin’s unpopularity with school teachers. He’s focusing his run for governor on public education and has selected a rural high school administrator as his running mate.

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Death penalty supporters and opponents both say that Kentucky’s capital punishment system is too expensive, lengthy and in need of reform.

Gov. Matt Bevin said last week that he thinks parents should be responsible for locking up guns when they have children in the house, but he wouldn’t say whether he thinks that should be mandated by law.

Bevin made the comments to reporters after a meeting of the Federal School Safety Commission — a group of federal officials tasked with coming up with safety recommendations after a string of school shootings earlier this year.

Attorney General Andy Beshear says Kentucky State Police illegally restricted a poverty group’s access to the state Capitol building during a series of protests last month.

State troopers only allowed two members of the Poor People’s Campaign to enter the Capitol at a time after a series of recent protests, including a demonstration where 17 people spent the night in the building after business hours.

But a legal opinion published by the attorney general’s office said that Kentucky State Police and the Finance and Administration Cabinet didn’t create the policy using the proper procedure.

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Timothy D. Easley / AP

Gov. Matt Bevin says in order to put an end to school shootings, parents need to stop over-medicating their children and steer them away from cell phones and violent video games.

Kentucky state capitol
Alix Mattingly / WFPL, Kentucky Public Radio

After last week’s court decision that struck down Kentucky’s new pension law, a Republican state representative says he’s confident legislators will pass a new version of the measure if the decision is upheld.

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J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin says the judge who struck down Kentucky’s pension law is “not a very competent attorney,” predicting that the ruling will be overturned because the legislation “doesn’t do much.”

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A judge has struck down changes made to Kentucky’s pension systems earlier this year, ruling that lawmakers violated the state constitution by rushing the bill to passage in a matter of hours.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

For the first time since the Civil War, a majority of Kentucky voters don’t identify as Democrats as Republicans continue to make gains in voter registrations in the state.

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