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.

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration is moving forward with a plan that would alter the state’s expanded Medicaid system, even if the Affordable Care Act is repealed or replaced by Congress.

The proposal has been billed as a way to get Medicaid recipients more involved in their healthcare choices and also a way to reduce Medicaid costs for the state. Bevin’s administration expects about 86,000 fewer people would be enrolled in Medicaid if the waiver is approved.

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said on Wednesday that the state would still move forward with the plan, even if Congress moves to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Gov. Matt Bevin has released the names of 10 people who will serve on the University of Louisville board of trustees.

The move comes after the legislature abolished the previous board earlier this month in an attempt to bring the school back into compliance with accreditation standards. The school’s accreditation was put on probation in December as a result of Bevin’s attempt to unilaterally overhaul the board over the summer.

In a video released along with the announcement, Bevin said the board had been used as a “political football by people who frankly do not have the university’s best interests at heart.”

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Gov. Matt Bevin says he’s working with incoming President Donald Trump’s administration to come up with a way to bring Kentucky into compliance with stricter ID and driver’s license standards known as REAL ID.

Kentucky is one of eight states out of compliance with federal identification standards passed by Congress in 2004. The legislature approved a REAL ID bill last spring but Bevin vetoed it, citing widespread misunderstanding of the issue.

The REAL ID legislation was opposed by Tea Party groups and the ACLU of Kentucky, citing privacy concerns.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin has selected 10 people to serve on the newly reconstructed University of Louisville Board of Trustees after the legislature abolished the previous board and created a new one earlier this year.

The move comes after the school’s accreditation was put on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a result of Bevin’s unilateral overhaul of the board last summer.

Bevin announced by video Friday evening that he had chosen 10 trustees to serve on the new board.

“There is going to be the ability to transition as properly as possible in the days and weeks ahead,” Bevin said.

WKU Public Radio

Workers at unionized companies in Kentucky will be able to stop paying union dues or fees once contracts negotiated between their employers and unions expire.

The so-called “right-to-work” policy signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin last weekend forbids payment of dues as a condition to get or keep a job in Kentucky, though current collective bargaining agreements between unions and companies are still enforceable until they expire.

Bill Londrigan, president of Kentucky’s AFL-CIO, said the new law will have a negative impact on labor organizations and companies once some workers decide they don’t want to pay into the union anymore.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration has released a report alleging “endemic” coercion of state employees to make campaign contributions under former Gov. Steve Beshear.

The investigation is based on interviews with 16 political appointees — who remained anonymous — claiming that officials pressured them into make contributions to Democratic political candidates, primarily to the campaigns of gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway and Attorney General Andy Beshear.

The probe, conducted by Indianapolis law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister, construes that the practice was widespread across state government.

Ryland Barton

Attorney General Andy Beshear says he will not defend the state if it is sued over a law passed by the state legislature last week banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

But Beshear, the Kentucky’s top law enforcement official, said he would defend the state in a lawsuit against another new law requiring abortion doctors to narrate an ultrasound as they perform the procedure on women seeking abortions.

Both laws went into effect over the weekend after Gov. Matt Bevin signed the legislation during a speedy first-week of the newly Republican-led General Assembly.

J. Tyler Franklin

The state Supreme Court has agreed to take up Gov. Matt Bevin’s appeal of a ruling that said he can’t overhaul of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.

The move comes two days after the state legislature voted to reorganize the board once again, despite worries that the moves might hurt the institution’s accreditation — which was put on probation last month.

Bevin dismissed the 17-member U of L board in June, later creating a 10-member board and appointing new members.

J. Tyler Franklin

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the commonwealth’s only abortion provider are suing the state over a new abortion law that requires a doctor to conduct an ultrasound and provide a fetal description to a woman seeking an abortion.

The legislation was among a handful of conservative priorities rushed out of the General Assembly last week by Republicans, who had total control of the legislative process for the first time in state history after sweeping elections this fall.

William Sharp, Legal Director of the ACLU of Kentucky, called the law unconstitutional.

J. Tyler Franklin

The state Supreme Court has agreed to take up Gov. Matt Bevin’s appeal of a ruling that said he can’t overhaul of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees.

The move comes two days after the state legislature voted to reorganize the board once again, despite worries that the moves might hurt the institution’s accreditation — which was put on probation last month.

Bevin dismissed the 17-member U of L board in June, later creating a 10-member board and appointing new members.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

The General Assembly gave final approval to a pair of controversial anti-abortion bills on Saturday as Republicans quickly cleared conservative legislation by the end of their first week controlling the legislative process in Kentucky.

Women would be prevented from getting abortions during or after the 20th week of pregnancy under one bill. The other would require doctors performing an abortion to conduct an ultrasound of the woman and verbally describe the fetus before the procedure.

Both bills would take effect once they are signed by Gov. Matt Bevin, which he has indicated he will do.

Ryland Barton

The Kentucky legislature has awarded final passage to a handful of bills opposed by labor unions, most notably “right-to-work” legislation that would ban unionized companies from requiring employees to pay dues.

Union activists swarmed the Capitol as lawmakers altered the legislative calendar to meet on Saturday to approve Republican priorities at the end of the legislative session’s first week.

Rep. Stan Lee, a Republican from Lexington, said despite protests, voters showed they wanted conservative legislation when they voted to send GOP supermajorities to both legislative chambers.

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Lawmakers gave initial approval to two anti-abortion bills Wednesday as Republicans assume control of the legislative process and fast-track conservative policies previously stymied by Democrats.

Protesters came out in force to oppose the measures during committee hearings, at times groaning when elected officials argued in favor of the measures and cheering lawmakers who voted against them.

The bills could be signed into law as soon as this Saturday. Republican House Speaker Jeff Hoover said the legislature would likely meet over the weekend to give final passage to what Republicans consider high-priority legislation.

LRC Public Information

Women wouldn’t be able to get abortions if they are more than 20 weeks pregnant under a bill proposed in the Kentucky Senate Tuesday.

The legislation has a good chance of passing the full legislature and governor’s desk, which are controlled by Republicans for the first time in state history.

Senate President Robert Stivers said that the bill would protect unborn fetuses because they don’t get to decide whether to go forth with an abortion.

“There is at this point in time two viable beings in this decision,” Stivers said. “One had a choice early on to make a decision to conceive or not conceive. But once conception starts there becomes another life involved. And the legislature has its ability to control how that life may proceed or how it may be terminated.”

Ryland Barton

Republicans are officially the majority party in the state House of Representatives for the first time since 1921, putting the party in control of the legislature and the governorship for the first time in state history.

As expected, Jeff Hoover, a Republican from Jamestown, was elected House Speaker after serving as the leader of the minority party for 15 years.

On Tuesday, the first day of the legislative session, Hoover called for unity.

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