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

Today is the day that new laws passed earlier this year by the Kentucky General Assembly take effect.

Gov. Matt Bevin signed more than 130 bills into law, dealing with issues ranging from charter schools to drug control to doubling campaign contributions for state politicians.

This year’s legislative session was the first in which Republicans had control of both the state House and Senate as well as the governor’s office.

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Robert Stivers, the president of the Kentucky State Senate, said he’ll ask to intervene in a legal challenge against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma in order to release documents that deal with a settlement the company made with the state in late 2015.

Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, suggested the case was improperly settled by former Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway, saying the $24 million windfall amounted to “pennies on the dollar” of what the state could have gotten.

WKU Public Radio

If approved, the proposal would extend the terms of Kentucky’s next governor and other constitutional officeholders by one year, giving the elected officials five-year stints.

Elections for Kentucky’s constitutional officers are now held during odd-numbered years.

Rep. Kenny Imes, a Republican from Murray, said he proposed the bill to save counties money on elections and break up the nearly constant barrage of elections in Kentucky.

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Gov. Matt Bevin said he wants to find more revenue to put toward Kentucky’s ailing pension systems and overstretched state budget, but not everyone is on board if the governor’s solution would mean tax increases.

Bevin said he wants to call lawmakers back to Frankfort later this year to hammer out a plan that would help the state generate more revenue through economic growth and eliminating tax breaks.

Republican lawmakers have historically been wary of tax increases, but Sen. Joe Bowen, a Republican from Owensboro, said lawmakers might be forced to consider it given the state’s financial jam.

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has asked for his city to be exempted from California’s recently announced ban on state-funded travel to Kentucky.

The travel ban was announced last week by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who accused Kentucky of passing a law that steps on the rights of LGBTQ citizens.

In his letter, Fischer asked Becerra to consider exempting some cities from the restrictions.

“It is my belief that cities like ours should be rewarded for inclusive behavior, not penalized; a waiver would highlight our inclusivity and encourage other cities to follow accordingly,” Fischer said in his letter.

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The attorney general of California has added Kentucky to a list of destinations banned from official state travel, saying a new religious expression law passed by the Kentucky General Assembly is discriminatory.

Senate Bill 17 was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin this spring. Supporters say the legislation bolsters First Amendment protections for religious speech in public schools and universities.

Opponents have criticized the new law for language that protects religious and political student groups from being punished for how they select their members.

J. Tyler Franklin

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has unveiled the newest version of a bill to replace many provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Negotiations over the much-anticipated bill were held in private, with even some Republicans like Sen. Rand Paul criticizing the secretive process “with little time to fully evaluate the proposal.”

Paul issued a statement Thursday saying he wasn’t ready to vote in favor of the new bill because it doesn’t fully repeal Obamacare.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Some Kentucky lawmakers want the state to be the next to legalize medical marijuana, at least for end-of-life and hospice care.

Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville, said Kentucky shouldn’t be the last state to legalize the drug.

“There are other states doing this, we know there are benefits to doing it, and we know we can do it in a responsible way that provides ready and available relief to a lot of people,” McGarvey said.

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Attorney General Andy Beshear has announced he is suing Gov. Matt Bevin over a recent executive order that reorganized several education boards.

The announcement comes after the attorney general previously threatened to sue Bevin over the actions and after the governor changed his executive order late last week.

Beshear said that despite Bevin’s changes, “there are still significant constitutional and legal violations.”

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If Republicans in Congress move forward with their plan to replace Obamacare, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin's ideas for the future of the program could also go up in smoke.

About 440,000 people were added to the state’s Medicaid rolls as a result of former Gov. Steve Beshear’s executive order to expand the program in 2013, making more people eligible for benefits under the Affordable Care Act.


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Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear will be back in court soon as the Kentucky Supreme Court weighs in on whether the governor’s attempted overhaul of the University of Louisville trustee board last summer was legal.

A trial court ruled last year that Bevin didn’t have the authority to remove members or abolish state university boards. The governor appealed the decision and the legislature passed a law giving the governor broader powers to retool university boards.

Beshear has characterized Bevin’s actions as a “power grab.”

Ryland Barton

Attorney General Andy Beshear said he’ll wait to decide whether to file a lawsuit against Gov. Matt Bevin over a recent reorganization of several state education boards.

The governor’s office sent Beshear a letter late Wednesday saying Bevin planned to alter the executive order, which tweaked or replaced panels like the Board of Education and Council on Postsecondary Education.

Beshear argues the reorganizations go against the state’s laws and constitution, and said he would take legal action if Bevin didn’t alter the executive order by Friday.

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U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is safe after a shooting at a Congressional baseball practice in northern Virginia. Five people were reportedly shot, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. Scalise is reported to be stable.

On MSNBC Wednesday, Paul said he was in a batting cage at the time that shots rang out at the practice, which took place in advance of the annual Congressional baseball game on Friday.

J. Tyler Franklin

Weeks after announcing a prayer initiative in response to an increase in violent crime in west Louisville, Gov. Matt Bevin is criticizing those who responded negatively to his proposal.

“Those who hate God and hate this administration were happy to mock that,” Bevin said in an interview on WHAS’ Leland Conway show.

Bevin held a meeting with spiritual leaders at a middle school in west Louisville earlier this month. He asked attendees to organize prayer groups to walk the blocks of three West End ZIP codes several times a week for a year.

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On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill rolling back most parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which set up consumer protections and banking oversight in the wake of the 2008 financial disaster that led to a global economic recession.

Dubbed the Financial Choice Act, the bill is the centerpiece of Republican promises to scrap regulations on the finance industry. It now heads to the Senate, which is working on its own version of the legislation.

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