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.

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.”

J. Tyler Franklin

As Gov. Matt Bevin’s mansion was inspected Tuesday by a board that will determine how much it’s worth, the governor lashed out on Twitter at reporters covering the meeting.

The value of Bevin’s home, located in the outskirts of Louisville, has been scrutinized in recent months after the Courier-Journal first reported he paid significantly less than the official estimate of the property’s value for the mansion and surrounding 10 acres.

Bevin bought the home for $1.6 million from Neil Ramsey, an investment manager and political donor whom the governor appointed to the Kentucky Retirement Systems board of trustees.

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The first woman to fly an F-18 fighter jet in combat says she’ll run as a Democrat for the central Kentucky Congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr.

Retired Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Amy McGrath flew 89 combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, worked as a congressional aide and taught classes at the U.S. Naval Academy before moving back to her native Kentucky this summer.

She released a video on Tuesday calling out Barr for his support of Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

J. Tyler Franklin

A revenue shortfall during Kentucky’s recently completed fiscal year means the state will have to make more money over the next year in order to meet expectations, state budget officials say.

The General Assembly crafts budgets every two years and since Kentucky had a $138.5 million revenue shortfall, the state needs to bring in about 3.8 percent more money over the next 12 months to satisfy goals.

In a report, the Office of State Budget Director said the shortfall has made the next year’s forecast “more formidable.”

J. Tyler Frankin

The ACLU of Kentucky is suing Gov. Matt Bevin for blocking people on Facebook and Twitter, saying the governor is violating the free speech rights of his constituents.

The challenge was filed on behalf of two Kentucky residents who say they have been “permanently blocked from engaging in political speech” on the governor’s official social media pages.

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