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.

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.

jeff hoover
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.

Wikimedia Commons

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.

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.

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.

Pixabay

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.”

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