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.

Kate Ter Haar/Creative Commons

More than a month after a court decision said Kentucky had to begin paying people who take care of foster children they’re related to, state officials say they still don’t know when or how it will begin making the payments.

Adria Johnson, commissioner of Kentucky Department of Community Based Services, said that the administration is searching for funding, putting together a “payment mechanism,” and reviewing state regulations.

Erica Peterson

Kentucky wildlife officials say the state needs to combat Asian carp, an invasive species that is disturbing the ecosystem in Kentucky’s western lakes.

According to the National Parks Service, Asian carp were introduced to U.S. fish farms in the 1970s to control weed and parasite growth and eventually escaped into the Mississippi River.

Since then, the quick-breeding fish have made it to Mississippi River tributaries like the Ohio River and Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley in the westernmost part of the state.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is asking for a redo of an analysis that says his proposed changes to the teacher pension system would cost taxpayers an extra $4.4 billion over the next 20 years.

Bevin has proposed moving future teachers into 401(k)-style retirement plans and increasing the amount of money the state puts towards the system every year.

The analysis by Cavanaugh Macdonald Consulting showed that under Bevin’s plan, the state wouldn’t see savings until 2034.

Budget Director John Chilton said the analysis used incorrect assumptions of retirement patterns and of how much money the pension system would make from its investments.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin says his proposal to overhaul Kentucky’s troubled pension systems has enough support to pass out of the state legislature, despite skepticism from lawmakers and intense opposition from state workers.

In an interview on the Leland Conway Show on WHAS in Louisville, Bevin said that when the proposal was unveiled the leaders of the state House and Senate “said straight up that they had the votes to pass that bill.”

WKU Public Radio

The head of the company that is planning to build a $1.3 billion aluminum plant in eastern Kentucky claims the state’s new right-to-work law will help it undercut competitors.

Braidy Industries CEO Craig Bouchard said one of the company’s advantages is that it won’t require workers to join a union — unlike some other competitors in the aluminum business.

“We don’t have any work rules, we don’t have anybody telling us how to run the shop,”  Bouchard said at an event in Louisville Thursday. “We can do what is best for our company, our employees, our shareholders and our community and we know how to do it.”

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Republican leaders in the state House of Representatives have hired a law firm to look into sexual harassment allegations against multiple GOP members.

The scandal has already led to the resignation of former House Speaker Jeff Hoover.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Speaker Pro Tem David Osborne said that “new information regarding this unfolding situation has emerged today.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Allegations that House Speaker Jeff Hoover and other Republican lawmakers sexually harassed a female staffer have rocked the state capitol in recent days, pitting political allies against each other and unearthing deep divisions within Kentucky’s GOP.

Hoover resigned from his position as speaker, admitting to exchanging “inappropriate text messages” with an employee.

But he denied committing sexual harassment and claimed he was the target of a political conspiracy to bring him down.

Thinkstock

The FBI has confirmed it is looking into sexual harassment in the Kentucky state legislature. The news comes a day after House Speaker Jeff Hoover admitted to exchanging inappropriate text messages with a female staffer and resigned from his leadership position.

Three Republican lawmakers have been implicated in the scandal and removed from their committee chairmanships.

David Habich, a spokesman for the FBI office in Louisville confirmed the agency is reviewing the allegations.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin is calling for the immediate resignation of all elected officials and staff who have been involved in settling or hiding sexual harassment allegations.

The announcement came in a quickly-organized news conference Saturday afternoon amid allegations that House Speaker Jeff Hoover and several Republican leaders in the chamber had secretly settled sexual harassment claims.

Bevin called for the immediate resignation of  “every individual who has settled a sexual harassment case” and state employees “party to trying to hide this type of behavior.”

J. Tyler Franklin

A Republican state representative is calling for House Speaker Jeff Hoover to resign or be impeached, saying Hoover and leaders of the state legislature tried to cover up sexual harassment allegations made by a female staffer.

Rep. Wesley Morgan of Richmond said three other Republican lawmakers have also been accused of sexual harassment, though he wouldn’t identify them, saying only that they are chairmen of committees in the state House of Representatives.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Republicans in Kentucky’s House of Representatives say Speaker Jeff Hoover still has their support after a report alleging he secretly settled a sexual harassment complaint made by a staffer.

GOP members of the chamber held a closed-door meeting Friday afternoon to discuss Hoover’s position after the bombshell report was published earlier this week.

Hoover did not talk to reporters after the nearly three-hour long meeting and has not confirmed or denied the allegations, which were first raised by the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Ryland Barton

Kentucky House Speaker Jeff Hoover won’t step down from his position after news reports that he secretly settled a sexual harassment claim with a female employee.

According to the Associated Press, at a Kentucky Hospital Association event Friday morning, Hoover said he would “absolutely not” resign.

Republican members of the state House of Representatives are scheduled to meet Friday afternoon to discuss Hoover’s status and a massive pension overhaul proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover has settled a sexual harassment claim with a staffer according to a report published by the Courier-Journal.

The allegations stem from early 2016, when Hoover was still the minority leader in the House — he became speaker after sweeping Republican victories in House elections last November.

According to the report, which relies on anonymous sources, Hoover last week reached a settlement with a female accuser after receiving a letter making unspecified demands.

Thinkstock

As Kentucky lawmakers consider moving most future and thousands of current workers into 401(k)-style retirement plans, the commonwealth can look to a few other states that have had to address pension issues in the wake of the recession.

Many states have enacted changes that shift more of the burden of public retirement programs onto employees, require increased employee contributions and tweak benefits.

Ryland Barton

Hundreds of state employees and retirees rallied on the steps of the State Capitol Wednesday night, protesting Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed changes to the state’s troubled pension plans.

The governor’s proposal would move most future state workers and thousands of current ones away from defined benefit plans and onto less-generous 401(k)-style plans. State workers who reach 27 years of service would have their benefits capped and be forced to transition to the new plans.


Pages