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.

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.

ThinkStock

Starting this week, Kentucky’s six percent sales tax now applies to a new set of services like automotive repairs, pet grooming, dry cleaning, gym memberships and landscaping.

The state legislature approved the tax increases in order to put more money towards public education and cut the state’s income tax for people and corporations.

But business owners affected by the tax hike say they’ve been unfairly targeted. One of them is Bill Rogers, who owns Parrot Cleaners, a dry cleaning shop in Louisville. A couple of years ago he made a big investment: two massive machines that help his shop run faster and cleaner.

Becca Schimmel

After the announcement of the retirement of the U.S. Supreme Court’s swing-voting Justice Anthony Kennedy, Mitch McConnell told a gathering of Kentucky Republicans that this has been “the best” year-and-a-half for conservatives in recent history.

President Donald Trump has said he’ll nominate Kennedy’s replacement on July 9 and McConnell will be tasked with shepherding the nominee through the confirmation process in the Senate, which is narrowly controlled by Republicans.

J. Tyler Franklin

This week in state politics, federal education officials came to Kentucky to talk about ways to make schools safer, and Gov. Matt Bevin said it all comes down to kids’ cell phone use. One of the Republican lawmakers who helped make changes to the state pension system says they’ll pass the bill again if it’s struck down by the courts. And the state’s new education commissioner talked about the potential costs of taking over Louisville’s school system.


Ryland Barton

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.

The governor’s comments came during a listening session hosted by the Federal Commission on School Safety, which was created by President Trump earlier this year.

Thinkstock

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.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled last week that the pension law is unconstitutional because lawmakers passed it too quickly. Gov. Matt Bevin — one of the defendants in the court battle — has indicated he will appeal the decision.

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