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 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.

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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.

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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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A bipartisan group of Kentucky lawmakers is writing a bill to legalize and regulate sports betting in the state.

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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.

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