Ryland Barton

State Capitol Bureau Reporter

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.

J. Tyler Franklin

This week in Kentucky politics, candidates made their final pushes ahead of next week’s primary elections. Voters across the state will weigh in on who to nominate for Congress, the state legislature and several local offices on Tuesday. Plus, Gov. Matt Bevin named a new secretary of the state health cabinet and headed off to Asia on a trade mission.


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Next week, Kentucky voters will head to the polls to weigh in on primary elections, including who to nominate for state legislative elections this fall.

All 100 seats in the state House of Representatives and half of the 38 seats in the state Senate are up for re-election this year.

At least 40 current and retired educators are running after the legislature voted to make changes to retirement for current and future teachers and other state workers.

And a wave of retirements from the statehouse has sparked hotly contested primaries, with both of Kentucky’s major political parties hoping to flip districts in their favor.

J. Tyler Franklin

Governor Matt Bevin has launched a pilot program that will give high school graduates paid apprenticeships in Kentucky’s social services offices across the state.

The program would give apprenticeships to people interested in social work who are impacted by generational poverty or haven’t had the opportunity to go to college.

Bevin said the state needs more people working in social services.

Ryland Barton

Southern Indiana white nationalist leader Matthew Heimbach has been sentenced to 38 days in jail for violating his probation for a disorderly conduct conviction stemming from a 2016 Donald Trump rally in Louisville.

Heimbach is the founder of the Traditionalist Worker Party. Last year he pleaded guilty to physically harassing an African-American woman at the Trump rally, but a judge released him under the condition that he take anger management classes and stay out of trouble for two years.

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Democrats trying to unseat Republican Congressman Andy Barr all embraced progressive policies like expanding health care, gun control and legalizing some form of marijuana use during a debate that aired live on KET Monday night, but they all distanced themselves from the party’s national leaders.

National Democrats see Kentucky’s 6th congressional district as one that might flip in their favor this November, hoping for a “blue wave” in reaction to President Trump and conservative policies advanced in the Republican-controlled Congress.

Kyeland Jackson

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.

Karolyn Nunnallee’s daughter Patti was 10 years old when she died in the crash. Nunnallee channeled her grief into activism, eventually becoming the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

J. Tyler Frankin

Governor Matt Bevin has gone after Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd several times in recent years. Shepherd is one of two trial court judges who hears certain lawsuits brought against the state.

Bevin has repeatedly accused him of being a “political hack” because he worked in Democratic Governor Brereton Jones’ administration back in the late 1980s.

After Shepherd ruled against a procedural motion filed by Bevin’s lawyers earlier this week, Bevin lashed out at the judge again on 55KRC radio in Cincinnati.


J. Tyler Franklin

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.

During confirmation hearings this week, Haspel said she would “never, ever” restart the interrogation program, which subjected prisoners to waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other interrogation methods.

J. Tyler Franklin

State lawmakers from Louisville agree that the city’s public school system needs to improve, but disagree along party lines over whether the state should intervene in the management of the district.

At an event in Louisville on Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers who represent parts of Jefferson County criticized the proposed takeover.

J. Tyler Franklin

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.”

On 55KRC radio in Cincinnati Tuesday, Bevin accused Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd of “legislating from the bench” and favoring his opponent in the case, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.

“We do typically lose in this guy’s court because he’s not really operating a court of law, it’s a court of his opinion,” Bevin said.

J. Tyler Franklin

This week in Kentucky politics, Gov. Matt Bevin weighed in on the potential state takeover of Louisville’s public school system; the leader of Kentucky’s House of Representatives called for an investigation into a statewide broadband internet project; and a Republican state Representative abruptly dropped out of her re-election campaign, saying that this year’s legislative session was the “nastiest” in history.


Ryland Barton

Louisville’s practice of busing students around the city to try and create more diverse schools is under fire again as Kentucky education officials consider whether to take over management of the district.

Jefferson County Public Schools’ Student Assignment Plan lets students apply to groups of schools based on their address. In a massive state audit of JCPS released last week, interim education commissioner Wayne Lewis said the Student Assignment Plan negatively impacts minority students and that it “serves some, but not all students.”

Ryland Barton

Governor 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.

On Monday, Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis released a 90-page audit that recommended the state intervene in the management of Jefferson County Public Schools due to under-performing schools, racial disparities in student performance and abuse of students.

education.ky.gov

Kentucky’s interim commissioner of education has released an audit recommending that the state take over Louisville’s public school system.

The state board of education will have final say on whether to approve interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis’ request.

In a summary of the audit’s findings, Lewis said that the district has “deep-seated organization and cultural challenges.”

“The current state of JCPS is not the fault of any one leader or group. Instead, under the leadership of many and over a long period of time, serious challenges emerged and in many cases were permitted to fester,” Lewis wrote.

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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.

Kentucky Wired was first approved at the end of Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration and is supposed to result in a 3,000-mile fiber optic cable network that stretches to all of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

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