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.

Kevin Willis

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.

Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory said distillers are worried that if the dispute escalates, it’ll offset some of the industry’s massive growth over the past decade.

Flickr/Creative Commons/ Lora Zibman

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.

The change is scheduled to take effect on August 1 and applies to people with disabilities who receive at-home and community-based Medicaid services in Kentucky and make more than $750 per month.

Kentucky Health Cabinet officials say that for more than 5 years, the state hasn’t been collecting the correct amount for the “patient liability”— the amount beneficiaries have to pay every month.

Flickr/Creative Commons/James Case

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.

A legislative committee heard testimony on Wednesday about how gun violence impacts young people across the state and country. The meeting came after a string of school shootings across the country earlier this year, including an incident at Marshall County High School that killed two 15 year-olds.

J. Tyler Franklin

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.”

Paul and Trump have had a love-hate relationship since the two publicly sparred during the race to secure the Republican nomination for president in 2015 and 2016.

But on the PBS News Hour Monday evening, Paul said that Trump’s detractors are unfairly criticizing the president for deriding intelligence findings that Russia meddled in U.S. elections.

J. Tyler Franklin

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.

During a news conference in Louisville, Paul said dialogue with Putin would help build a better relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

“I think people who say we shouldn’t talk,  I think are wrong. I think we should have conversations,” Paul said.

Ryland Barton

This week in Kentucky politics, Attorney General Andy Beshear announced he’s running for governor, the state auditor released a report finding a “pervasive lack of accountability” in Kentucky’s courts administration, and a bunch of new laws go into effect this weekend. 


Ryland Barton

The agency that runs Kentucky’s court system has “disorganized and unchecked leadership” and “pervasive lack of accountability” according to a special examination released by state Auditor Mike Harmon.

Harmon said that the Administrative Office of the Courts improperly held employee-only sales of surplus property and didn’t oversee how top officials used state resources, leaving the system vulnerable to abuse.

Public Domain

Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed another lawsuit against a drug manufacturer, accusing a company that makes morphine and codeine of using deceptive marketing to promote painkillers that fueled the drug addiction epidemic in Kentucky.

In a news conference on Thursday, Beshear said that St. Louis pharmaceutical company Mallinckrodt underplayed the risk of addiction in order to promote its opioid products.

“Mallinckrodt sold and promoted their opioids by falsely claiming that their drugs could be taken in higher doses without disclosing the additional risk of addiction,” Beshear said.

Ryland Barton

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.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd blocked the pension law last month, saying that lawmakers had violated the state Constitution by not following proper procedure.

Bevin had asked Shepherd to amend his ruling to determine if the pension bill violated the state’s “inviolable contract” — a provision that protects state worker benefits from being tinkered with after they’ve been hired.

J. Tyler Franklin

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.

Ryland Barton

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.

Beshear, a Democrat, announced that he would run for governor on Monday after months of speculation that he would challenge Republican Gov. Bevin, who he has sued eight times since taking office in 2016.

“As your governor, I will listen especially to those who disagree with me and together we will move forward and these days of bullying, name calling and ‘my way or the highway’ will be in the past,” Beshear said in his announcement.

AndyBeshear.com

Attorney General Andy Beshear will launch a run for Kentucky governor this week and his running mate will be Jacqueline Coleman, an assistant high school principal and political recruiter.

Beshear, a Democrat, sent out a press release on Sunday promoting a series of speaking events across the state on Monday and Tuesday in order to make an “announcement concerning the future of Kentucky.”

Wikimedia Commons

Death penalty supporters and opponents both say that Kentucky’s capital punishment system is too expensive, lengthy and in need of reform.

Kentucky has had a moratorium on the death penalty since 2010, but state prosecutors still pursue capital punishment in more than 50 cases every year.

During a legislative hearing on Friday, Louisville Republican Rep. Jason Nemes said that the death penalty needs to be sought only in the most extreme circumstances.

Flickr/Creative Commons/James Case

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.

Ryland Barton

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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