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.

kentucky state capitol building
Peter Fitzgerald / Wikimedia

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

rebecca johnson
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.

Kentucky teachers crowd a meeting room during a public hearing on their pension system.
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.


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.

Kentucky state capitol
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.

Kentucky state capitol
Alix Mattingly / WFPL, Kentucky Public Radio

Republican leaders of the state legislature say a new proposal to overhaul the state’s public retirement systems will be unveiled later this week.

Kate Ter Haar / Creative Commons

The state will begin compensating Kentuckians who serve as foster parents to children they’re related to after a federal court ruling last fall.

J. Tyler Franklin / WFPL, Kentucky Public Radio

Leaders of Kentucky’s two largest universities warned lawmakers Thursday that Gov. Bevin’s proposed spending cuts would eliminate crucial programs and scholarships that benefit Kentuckians and attract businesses to the state.

Gov. Matt Bevin proposed cutting most state spending by 6.25 percent over the next two years and eliminating 70 programs across state government during his budget address Tuesday evening.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Ahead of Tuesday’s State of the Commonwealth and budget address, Gov. Matt Bevin has hinted at major spending cuts and eliminating entire sections of state government to set aside more money for the public pension systems.

Kentucky lawmakers are still working on revisions to a massive bill that would overhaul the state's pension systems. But a statehouse sexual harassment scandal is slowing down the process.

Alix Mattingly / WFPL, Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky lawmakers attended a mandatory sexual harassment prevention session on Wednesday, a day after the House speaker announced he wouldn’t resign his seat amid a harassment scandal.

State Rep. Dan Johnson committed suicide Wednesday evening, two days after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published accusations that he sexually assaulted a minor.

Johnson was a preacher from Mt. Washington in Bullitt County. He shot himself on a bridge over the Salt River, according to WDRB.

Johnson posted a suicide note on Facebook Wednesday evening calling the accusations false and telling conservatives to “take a stand.”