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.

education.ky.gov

Kentucky’s interim commissioner of education has released an audit recommending that the state take over Louisville’s public school system.

The state board of education will have final say on whether to approve interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis’ request.

In a summary of the audit’s findings, Lewis said that the district has “deep-seated organization and cultural challenges.”

“The current state of JCPS is not the fault of any one leader or group. Instead, under the leadership of many and over a long period of time, serious challenges emerged and in many cases were permitted to fester,” Lewis wrote.

Wikimedia Commons

The leader of the Kentucky House of Representatives is calling for an investigation into the deal that created the Kentucky Wired high-speed internet project, a public-private partnership that has cost the state tens of millions of dollars in delays in recent years.

Kentucky Wired was first approved at the end of Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration and is supposed to result in a 3,000-mile fiber optic cable network that stretches to all of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

ONA News Agency/Wikimedia Commons

Separating parents will get joint custody of their children by default under a bill signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin last week, unless a parent has a recent history of domestic violence.

Kentucky is the first state in the country to create a “legal presumption” for joint custody in divorce proceedings.

Supporters of the measure say that joint custody allows for more stable upbringing of children, but critics argue that it unravels protections against abusive parents and makes it much harder for a judge to give one parent more time with children than the other.

J. Tyler Franklin

This week in Kentucky politics, speculation flared that Kentucky’s new education leaders would try to take over Louisville’s public school district. Plus, a judge ruled that Attorney General Andy Beshear can sue the governor over the pension bill that was signed into law earlier this month. Listen to this week’s edition of Kentucky Politics Distilled in the player below.


Creative Commons

Decades before the Kentucky Board of Education forced out former Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt two years before his contract was up, the legislature passed a massive overhaul of the state education system, including measures to try and shield Kentucky’s top education official from political influence.

Before the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act in 1990, Kentucky’s top education official was called the superintendent of public instruction, a position that was elected through a statewide vote every four years — the same years that the governor and other statewide officials were elected.


Creative Commons

After a shakeup of Kentucky’s Board of Education last week, conservative groups are pushing for the state to intervene in the management of Jefferson County Public Schools, the state’s largest school district.

Wayne Lewis, the interim commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education, is expected to release an extensive 14-month audit of the district soon. The audit could include recommendations the state assume control of the district’s operations.

Ryland Barton

This year’s Kentucky General Assembly was book-ended by turmoil, but over the course of nearly four months the Republican-led legislature was still able to wrangle the votes to approve politically volatile policies like changing pension benefits for public workers and overhauling Kentucky’s tax code amid intense protests from public workers, especially teachers.

The legislature also passed a variety of conservative measures like new abortion restrictions, an expansion of the state’s gang penalties and an overhaul of Kentucky’s workers compensation system.

J. Tyler Franklin

As one of its final acts of this year’s legislative session, the Republican-led Kentucky House of Representatives passed a resolution formally condemning Gov. Matt Bevin for saying that teachers neglected students by attending protests in Frankfort on Friday, leading to child abuse.

The reprimand came after Democrats and several Republican statehouse leaders demanded an apology from Bevin for the remarks.

Ryland Barton

After thousands of teachers traveled to Frankfort on Friday to protest, Gov. Matt Bevin said that somewhere in Kentucky children were sexually assaulted or ingested poison because they were left unattended.

Bevin made the comments to several reporters early Friday evening, hours after the Republican-led legislature overrode his vetoes of the state budget and tax reform bills amid noisy protests from teachers.

Ryland Barton

Teachers from across Kentucky are expected to converge on the state Capitol again Friday as lawmakers return to Frankfort for the final two days of this year’s legislative session.

The Kentucky Education Association — the statewide teachers union — has called for lawmakers to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of the two-year state budget and revenue bills, which set aside more funding for public education than Bevin’s proposed budget did.

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky lawmakers will consider whether to override Gov. Matt Bevin’s vetoes of the state budget and revenue bills and whether to pass any other last-minute bills during the final two days of this year’s legislative session on Friday and Saturday.

Plus, teachers are expected to descend on the state capitol for another rally Friday after Bevin signed controversial changes to public employee pension benefits into law earlier this week.

Ryland Barton

A day after Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill overhauling retirement benefits for public workers, Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a lawsuit to try and block it.

The statewide unions for public school teachers and police also joined the challenge.

Beshear argues the new law will lead to mass-retirement of current employees, creating an “imminent” threat to the state.

J. Tyler Franklin

Former House Speaker Jeff Hoover has admitted that he violated state ethics rules by exchanging sexually charged text messages with a legislative staffer who used to work for him.

The admission came as part of a settlement approved by the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, which also fined Hoover $1,000 but did not recommend that he be kicked out of the state House of Representatives.

Ryland Barton

Gov. Matt Bevin says it would be “irresponsible” for teachers in Kentucky to strike a week after thousands of educators descended on Frankfort to protest pension and education cuts.

Though state law doesn’t allow teachers to strike in Kentucky, the Jefferson County Teachers Association has called for educators to take a personal day on Friday to protest Bevin’s vetoes to the budget and tax reform bills passed by the legislature.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin says he will veto the entire two-year state budget and revenue bills passed by the legislature last week, saying that the tax plan isn’t comprehensive enough and the budget spends too much money.

The budget passed by the legislature included about $600 million more in spending than the spending plan proposed by Bevin back in January.

Most of the spending increases went towards K-12 schools and higher education, which education advocates say still received cuts but were funded at higher levels than in Bevin’s budget.

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