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

Justices on Kentucky’s Supreme Court heard arguments over whether Gov. Matt Bevin had the right to overhaul the University of Louisville board of trustees last year under a law that gives the governor power to reshape state boards while the legislature isn’t in session.

Flickr/Creative Commons/J. Stephen Conn

A bipartisan group of community leaders and lawmakers called for the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue from the state Capitol rotunda during a rally on Wednesday.

The gathering came in response to the violent white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, over that city’s removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

“Do not ever tell me that Confederate symbols have no meaning,” said Sadiqa Reynolds, president of the Louisville Urban League.

“We have fought in America’s wars, we have nursed your children, we have prayed for your souls and still when we walk through our country and see the symbols of hate that we endure being flown, raised and honored, we are told to get over it.”

J. Tyler Franklin

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned white supremacists who are gearing up for a rally in Lexington in response to plans to remove statues of Confederate generals from city property.

“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred,” McConnell said in a statement. “There are no good neo-nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”

Jacob Ryan

Gov. Matt Bevin says that he’s opposed to removing Confederate monuments from public property, calling it a “sanitization of history.”

The statement comes days after violence in Charlottesville, Virginia stemming from a white nationalist protest of that city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

“I absolutely disagree with this sanitization of history,” Bevin said in an interview on WVHU radio in Huntington, West Virginia.

Credit Flickr/Creative Commons/J. Stephen Conn

Kentucky’s NAACP chapter is renewing efforts to remove a statue of Jefferson Davis from the state capitol rotunda after a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

“It is an issue that speaks to today’s society and where we are in America in terms of race,” said Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville NAACP.

Cunningham said the statue is offensive to African-Americans and that Davis, former president of the Confederate States of America, is falsely regarded as a hero.

“That he was not. He was a traitor to the United States government, aside from the other convictions he had in regard to slavery,” said Cunningham.

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For the first time, the public will have access to records held by the administrative arm of Kentucky’s courts system, though there are several exceptions to the new policy.

The state’s judicial branch had for years refused to adhere to the state’s open records law, saying that the legislature couldn’t write laws that govern them because of the separation of powers principle.

J. Tyler Franklin

Adding to Kentucky’s financial woes, economists are predicting the state will bring in around $200 million less than originally projected this fiscal year.

The state’s Consensus Forecasting Group, a panel of economists that budget writers rely on to estimate how much money the state will make, predicted Kentucky will bring in a little more than $10.6 billion in revenue instead of the more than $10.8 billion initially estimated.

NPR

President Donald Trump is using his bully pulpit to scold Kentucky’s senior senator Mitch McConnell for failing to pass a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as ‘Obamacare.’

When asked if McConnell should resign from his seat—as recently suggested by Fox News commentator Sean Hannity—Trump said his response would be based on McConnell’s ability to pass Republican initiatives in the future.

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A judge says Attorney General Andy Beshear’s fourth lawsuit against Gov. Matt Bevin can proceed, recognizing that any ruling in the case will likely be appealed.

This particular challenge deals with Bevin’s executive order from earlier this summer that reorganized several education boards using a little-known state law. This law has also been used by previous governors but never challenged in court.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate converted Bevin’s request to dismiss the case into a motion for summary judgement, meaning the challenge won’t go to trial and will have an expedited ruling.

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Gov. Matt Bevin says changing the state’s tax code will have to wait until lawmakers come up with solutions to Kentucky’s public pension crisis.

The governor had promised several times this year to call lawmakers back to Frankfort to find ways to bring more revenue into the state’s coffers and make changes to the ailing pension systems at the same time.

But after Republican lawmakers voiced concerns that Bevin’s revenue strategy would include a pitch for raising taxes, he told WEKU that the pension and tax issues would be addressed in separate legislative session.

J. Tyler Franklin

Even though there aren’t any major elections this year to stoke the political flames, Kentucky politicians had plenty of rhetoric to hurl at each other at the annual Fancy Farm picnic.

Bobby Richardson, a Barren County native and former Democratic speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, emceed the event and encouraged the speakers and crowd to have a “civil afternoon.” But he still took his turn at landing verbal punches at the participants.

Richardson told his former University of Kentucky law school classmate Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the two had much in common.

Ryland Barton

The Fancy Farm Picnic kicks off Saturday in Graves County in far-west Kentucky. The annual political speaking event takes place in the afternoon, drawing politicians and barbecue lovers from around the state.

Before a Democratic dinner Friday evening, Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear stoked the flames of an ongoing feud with Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Beshear said he had alerted federal authorities about a house Bevin purchased from a political donor and state contractor.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin has won an appeal over the official value of his mansion on the outskirts of Louisville.

The governor had appealed the official assessment after the Courier-Journal first reported that Bevin paid nearly $1 million less for the property than the county’s estimate of its worth.
Now, the Jefferson County Board of Assessment Appeals says that Bevin’s house and surrounding property is worth $2.15 million instead of the $2.97 million value originally set by the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administrator.

Public Domain

After years of dwindling returns, revenue into Kentucky’s road fund was higher than expected during the fiscal year that ended on June 30.

But state officials say that won’t happen again this year because money gleaned from motor fuels is due to be flat and vehicle registration taxes aren’t expected to surpass projections again.

The road fund finances state road and bridge construction across Kentucky. The fund’s main sources of money are gas tax revenues, which are pegged to the price of gas, and the motor vehicle usage tax, which is paid when someone buys or transfers ownership of a car.

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A former dentistry professor says members of Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration pressured University of Kentucky officials to fire him after he wrote a critique of the governor’s plan to reshape the state’s Medicaid system.

Dr. Raynor Mullins, who worked at UK for more than 40 years, filed the suit in federal court against UK Healthcare Vice President Mark Birdwhistell, UK College of Dentistry Dean Stephanos Kyrkanides and an unknown member of Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration listed as “John Doe.”

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