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.

Creative Commons

State lawmakers are once again considering a bill that would scale back how much homeowners with solar panels get reimbursed for putting energy back into the electrical grid, though the legislation has stalled for the time-being.

Electric utilities are required to give Kentucky households credits that can be used on future power bills for generating excess energy. Currently those credits are equal to retail price of energy, but under House Bill 277, the credits would be reduced to the wholesale price of energy.

Ryland Barton

The Republican secretary of Kentucky’s health cabinet has resigned her position to run for Congress in the heavily Democratic district that includes Louisville.

On Tuesday, Vickie Yates Brown Glisson filed to run for the seat currently held by Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth. He’s held the seat since 2007.

“I want Louisville to succeed,” Glisson said in an impromptu news conference shortly before the filing deadline. “I want Louisville to become a city that is strong and robust and a city where our citizens can succeed.”


Nearly 300 candidates filed to run for a spot in the state legislature this year as all 100 seats in the state House of Representatives and half of the 38 seats in the state Senate are up for election.

Republicans currently have a 62-36 majority in the Kentucky House after gaining control of the chamber for the first time in nearly a century in 2016. Two seats are vacant and will be filled by a special election in February.

WKU Public Radio

Tuesday is the last day for candidates to file for election in Kentucky. Offices on the ballot this year include all 100 seats in the state House of Representatives, half of the 38 seats in the state Senate, as well as all six of Kentucky’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Monday, more than 30 current elected officials and hopefuls filed paperwork with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ office. A crush of candidates is expected to file shortly before 4 p.m. on Tuesday — the official deadline.


A Kentucky lawmaker has proposed a bill that would strip state funding from cities and state universities that have so-called “sanctuary” policies that restrict cooperation with federal immigration enforcers.

Rep. Lynn Bechler, a Republican from Marion, said the legislation would target immigrants who are in the country illegally and the institutions that provide them with safe haven.

Nicole Erwin

In this week’s episode of Kentucky Politics Distilled, a school shooting at Marshall County High School sparks debate in Frankfort over whether and how state government can try to prevent gun violence.

On Tuesday morning, a student opened fire on his classmates, killing two teenagers and injuring more than a dozen others. The incident has drawn sympathy from across the country and around the world.

And on the lighter side, what do purple cows have to do with the fractured politics of the Kentucky House of Representatives? Listen to this week’s wrap up with capitol reporter Ryland Barton.

Thomas Galvez/Creative Commons

Kentucky schools would be able to designate “marshals” responsible for keeping a gun on campus in order to stop a mass shooting, under a new bill filed in the state legislature.

Republican state Sens. Steve West and Ralph Alvarado filed the bill on Tuesday, the day after two 15-year-olds were killed during a shooting at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky.

West had proposed a similar bill in the past, saying it would help prevent shootings like the one that happened at a Paducah high school 20 years ago.

J. Tyler Franklin

Leaders of Kentucky’s two largest universities warned lawmakers Thursday that Gov. Bevin’s proposed spending cuts would eliminate crucial programs and scholarships that benefit Kentuckians and attract businesses to the state.

Bevin has proposed cutting most state spending by 6.25 percent and eliminating 70 programs — many of which are in higher education.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto said that combined, the cuts add up to a little more than $26 million and would be equal to the school’s state funding 23 years ago.

Ryland Barton

The Kentucky General Assembly has passed Marsy’s Law — a constitutional amendment that would provide protections to victims of alleged crimes and require courts to notify victims when a defendant is released from custody, among other things.

The proposed amendment doesn’t need to be signed by the governor, but will need majority approval by Kentucky voters during a referendum on Election Day this year to become law.

Alix Mattingly

A day after two teenagers were killed and 18 others injured in a shooting at Marshall County High School, state legislators weighed in on whether the General Assembly should pass any policies to try and prevent similar tragedies.

Sen. Danny Carroll, a Republican from Paducah, said he hoped the incident would “pull us together” but that the problem can’t be solved in Frankfort.

“I think the reality is no matter what we do physically, if the student is in the mind to do something like this, they’re going to do it,” said Carroll, who graduated from Marshall County High School and represents the area.

Public Domain

The chief justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court wants lawmakers to increase salaries for judges, clerks and non-elected Judicial Branch employees in an effort to make the positions more competitive with jobs outside the state.

Lawmakers are currently writing budgets for the state’s three branches of government amid a financial crunch spurred on by lax revenue growth and a pension crisis.

Chief Justice John Minton said the courts system is losing employees to surrounding states and other parts of state government.


Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposal for how Kentucky should spend public money over the next two years would eliminate the state’s share of funding for health insurance used by retired teachers.

Bevin’s budget would also do away with subsidies that about 3,500 employees use to pay for health insurance of dependents.

During a meeting of the Public Pension Oversight Board, budget director John Chilton said the state can’t afford the programs.

J. Tyler Franklin

This week, Gov. Matt Bevin presented his proposal for how the state should spend its money over the next two years. In his budget address, Bevin called for cutting spending, putting more money into the pension systems and totally eliminating 70 programs across state government.

Bevin argues additional funding is necessary for the state’s unfunded pension liability, but critics say the reductions will cut some key services to the bone, or end them entirely.


The state House of Representatives has passed a bill that would expand Kentucky’s rape and sodomy laws, making it illegal for 16- and 17-year-olds to have sex with people age 28 or older.

Current Kentucky law allows for 16- or 17-year-olds to have consensual sex.

Rep. Jason Petrie, a Republican from Elkton, said the legislation would provide more protections for young Kentuckians.

Thomas Galvez/Creative Commons

Governor Matt Bevin’s budget bill would keep per-pupil funding for Kentucky’s public education students at its current level. But the plan would still chip away at support programs and requires local school districts to pay a larger share of student transportation costs.

Administration officials say budget pressures created by the pension crisis has made it “harder to protect” public education from cuts.