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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Catherine Milliner’s grandson Tony died when he was four years old. Her daughter’s boyfriend was charged with murdering the toddler. And as a three-year trial unfolded, Milliner wanted to keep tabs on every step of the case, including the whereabouts of the accused.

Ryland Barton / WFPL

During a hearing on Thursday, the judge presiding over the lawsuit against Kentucky’s new pension law questioned why state lawmakers were able to pass the measure out of the legislature in just one day.

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Kentucky distillers, wineries and liquor retailers can now ship wine and spirits across state lines after the legislature passed the "bourbon without borders" bill earlier this year.

The new law will allow visitors to Kentucky to ship up to 4.5 liters of spirits or 4 cases of wine back home — as long as their home state allows it.

Teachers in Kentucky flexed their newfound political clout in primary elections Tuesday after a series of massive protests at the state Capitol earlier this year.

High school math teacher Travis Brenda ousted one of the Kentucky legislature's top Republican leaders in a primary election. Brenda ran a campaign attacking state Rep. Jonathan Shell for his role in writing bills that weakened retirement benefits for state workers and overhauled Kentucky's tax code.

Kyeland Jackson / WFPL

Community members gathered in Radcliff on Saturday to mark the 30th anniversary of the deadliest drunk driving crash in American history.

The accident took place on May 14, 1988, when a drunk driver hit a church bus carrying 60 people on Interstate 71 near Carrollton, Kentucky.

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J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

Rand Paul still says he will vote against the confirmation of Gina Haspel to be the next director of the CIA, citing her role in the intelligence agency’s brutal interrogation program more than a decade ago.

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J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

After suffering a minor loss in the lawsuit over Kentucky’s new pension law on Monday, Gov. Matt Bevin lashed out at the judge overseeing the case again, calling him an "incompetent hack."

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J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin says problems in Louisville’s public school system are so severe that “we have got to make changes.” Bevin’s comments come a day after the state’s top education official recommended a takeover of Kentucky’s largest school district.

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The leader of the Kentucky House of Representatives is calling for an investigation into the deal that created the Kentucky Wired high-speed internet project, a public-private partnership that has cost the state tens of millions of dollars in delays in recent years.

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Separating parents will get joint custody of their children by default under a bill signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin last week, unless a parent has a recent history of domestic violence.

Kentucky is the first state in the country to create a “legal presumption” for joint custody in divorce proceedings.

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Decades before the Kentucky Board of Education forced out former Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt two years before his contract was up, the legislature passed a massive overhaul of the state education system, including measures to try and shield Kentucky’s top education official from political influence.

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After a shakeup of Kentucky’s Board of Education last week, conservative groups are pushing for the state to intervene in the management of Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district.

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Peter Fitzgerald / Wikimedia

This year’s Kentucky General Assembly was book-ended by turmoil, but over the course of nearly four months the Republican-led legislature was still able to wrangle the votes to approve politically volatile policies like changing pension benefits for public workers and overhauling Kentucky’s tax code amid intense protests from public workers, especially teachers.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Update, Monday, April 16: Bevin has now apologized for his remarks

As one of its final acts of this year’s legislative session, the Republican-led Kentucky House of Representatives passed a resolution formally condemning Gov. Matt Bevin for saying that teachers neglected students by attending protests in Frankfort on Friday, leading to child abuse.

Kentucky state capitol
Alix Mattingly / WFPL, Kentucky Public Radio

On the final day of this year’s Kentucky General Assembly, state lawmakers passed “clean-up” bills that would make changes to the two-year budget and revenue bills that passed into law on Friday.

kentucky teacher protest
Ryland Barton

Teachers from across Kentucky are expected to converge on the state Capitol again Friday as lawmakers return to Frankfort for the final two days of this year’s legislative session.

The Kentucky Education Association — the statewide teachers union — has called for lawmakers to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of the two-year state budget and revenue bills, which set aside more funding for public education than Bevin’s proposed budget did.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

Kentucky lawmakers will consider whether to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of the state budget and revenue bills and whether to pass any other last-minute bills during the final two days of this year’s legislative session on Friday and Saturday.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

A day after Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill overhauling retirement benefits for public workers, Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a lawsuit to try and block it.

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Gage Skidmor / Wikimedia Commons

Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover has admitted that he violated state ethics rules by exchanging sexually charged text messages with a legislative staffer who used to work for him.

Ryland Barton / WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin says it would be “irresponsible” for teachers in Kentucky to strike a week after thousands of educators descended on Frankfort to protest pension and education cuts.

Though state law doesn’t allow teachers to strike in Kentucky, the Jefferson County Teachers Association has called for educators to take a personal day on Friday to protest Bevin’s vetoes to the budget and tax reform bills passed by the legislature.

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The Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission voted to dismiss ethics charges brought against three Republican state representatives, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to show that the men broke ethics rules by secretly signing a sexual harassment settlement with a former staffer.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature has passed a new two-year state budget that cuts much of state government in order to put more money into the state’s ailing pension systems.

But lawmakers also approved about $680 million in new revenue by expanding the sales tax to 17 services ranging from auto repair to country club memberships and raising the tax on cigarettes.

Ryland Barton / WFPL

Thousands of teachers have packed into the State Capitol building in Frankfort Monday to protest the Republican-led legislature’s passage of a bill overhauling the state’s pension systems last week and other policies.

kentucky teacher protest
Ryland Barton

Teachers from around Kentucky descended on Frankfort Friday morning to protest a surprise pension bill that was rushed through the state legislature the day before.

At least 500 people — most of them teachers — crowded the state Capitol building after about two dozen school districts closed for the day.

Ryland Barton / WFPL

After weeks of saying that a proposal to fix retirement benefits for state workers was likely dead, on Thursday Republican leaders of the Kentucky legislature quickly passed a bill overhauling the state’s pension systems. The legislation, which does little to address the state’s pension debt, was attached to an unrelated bill dealing with governance of sewage districts.

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Peter Fitzgerald / Wikimedia

A sweeping bill that would overhaul Kentucky’s foster care and adoption system is nearing final passage in the state legislature.

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J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL

The widow of a state lawmaker who killed himself late last year will not run in this year’s primary or general elections to fill her husband’s vacant seat.

Rebecca Johnson announced her candidacy the day after the death of her husband Rep. Dan Johnson, a pastor from Bullitt County, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in December.

Ryland Barton / Kentucky Public Radio

Hundreds of teachers and other state employees packed the Kentucky Capitol on Wednesday as Republican lawmakers presented their new plan to overhaul the state’s ailing pension systems.

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Under a new Republican proposal to overhaul Kentucky’s pension systems, most state workers hired since 2014 would no longer get a guaranteed return on their retirement investments in the event of a poorly-performing stock market.

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Alix Mattingly / WFPL, Kentucky Public Radio

Republican lawmakers are hoping to overhaul Kentucky’s workers compensation laws with a bill that would cap how long people with some permanent on-the-job injuries can collect benefits, among other things.

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